opinions, everybody's got one...
Friday, October 11, 2002
the aba meets ernie the attorney
The American Bar Association takes a look at weblogs from lawyers in an article called For the Tech Savvy, the Buzzword is Blawg. Not only that, but they smartly call upon Ernest Svenson, better known online as Ernie the Attorney, for some insight to the blawging phenomena. (link via metafilter).
before you close that unwanted pop-up ad...
If you haven't had the chance to visit the illegal art project, make sure that you schedule in a time to view the site soon. The first couple of times I went, I looked around at the graphics, and barely scanned the text. The pictures were compelling enough to guarantee return trips, but make certain that you read some of the words that go with them on the pages.
AND, before you close that pop-up box that shows, when you first arrive, make certain that you read the terms and conditions of use of the site. It's not your run-of-the-mill, garden-variety set of terms. I've gotten to the point where I just close pop-ups without looking at them. It was a mistake the first few times I went to illegal-art.org. They are worth reading carefully. One paragraph from the agreement:
This Website End User License Agreement accompanies the Web Pages and related explanatory materials ("Crap"). The term "Crap" also shall include any upgrades, modified versions, or repaintings of the Website licensed to you by either The Prince of Wales, a sentient washing machine, or my old Rabbi (the one who used profanity). Please read this Agreement carefully. At the end, you will be asked to accept this agreement and provide this Website with a warm, lingering, creepy hug. If you do not wish to accept this Agreement, simply click the "I do not accept" button while forcefully shoving your computer off the back of your desk ("Card Table").It gets sillier from there.
the rave act
My nephew is young and bright and industrious, and likes music. He and a couple of his friends put together a concert in the spring, renting out a hall and booking a number of bands. They didn't lose money, but they didn't earn much either. From what I hear, everyone who attended had a good time. He would like to try to put on more shows, but there's a concern in his household that it might not be a good idea because of some of the rumors circulating about the Rave Act. He's also noticing some hestitation on the part of the churches and firehalls to allow performances from bands.
So, what is going on with the Rave Act? The House of Representatives started looking at a version of the bill within the last couple of weeks, and Delaware's Senator Joseph Biden made a presentation to the Senate this week in response to criticism leveled at the Senate's version of the bill
On October 1, a bill was introduced in the House of Representatives called the "Reducing Americans Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act of 2002?? or the ??RAVE Act" (pdf). (H. R. 5519). The subtitle of the bill is:
To prohibit an individual from knowingly opening, maintaining, managing, controlling, renting, leasing, making available for use, or profiting from any place for the purpose of manufacturing, distributing, or using any controlled substance, and for other purposes.In addition to its initial presentation on the first, it was also sent to the Committee on the Judiciary, and the Committee on Energy and Commerce. On the tenth, it was forwarded to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.
The Senate version (pdf) of the bill was introduced on June 1, 2002 (note: the link points to a slightly modified version of the bill, dated June 18th).
On Wednesday, October 9, Joe Biden spoke before the Senate in an attempt to address some of the criticism that has been leveled at the bill. I've reproduced some of his words below, but the text of his whole statement (pdf) is worth taking a look at.
Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, in June I introduced S. 2633, the Reducing America's Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act, also known as the RAVE Act. Since that time there has been a great deal of misinformation circulating about this legislation. I rise today to correct the record. Simply stated, my bill provides technical corrections to an existing statute, one which has been on the books for 16 years and is well established.While Senator Biden's statement provides some optimism concerning the bill, it's difficult not to also look at the criticism that he is attempting to address. I've collected some statements concerning the Rave Act from the media and other sources below. Click through the links for more from each:
Law May Link Rave Promoters, Ecstasy
House Members Consider Making Rave Promoters Liable for Ecstasy Use
Associated Press, October 10, 2002
Lawmakers want to go after organizers and hosts of dance parties called "raves" in an attempt to halt the fast-rising use of the drug Ecstasy, which has been linked to damage to the brain, heart and kidneys in American teen-agers.US Drug Officials Support 'Rave' Crackdown Law
By Todd Zwillich, Reuters, October 10, 2002
The law would extend current drug penalties to make it illegal for property owners to knowingly rent or maintain property that is being used to manufacture, store or use drugs. Under the legislation, property owners or managers could be fined up to $250,000 if convicted of the offense, even if they are not involved with drug dealing or distribution.Few complaints about RAVE Act
By Collegian Editorial Board, Colorado State Collegian, October 09, 2002
But this act, as it is currently written, may go too far and may be difficult to prove. The definition of what constitutes a rave or other event may be too expansive, and it may be very difficult for prosecutors to prove that a promoter or business owner "knowingly" allowed drugs to be bought or sold on their premises or at their events.CULTURE VULTURE: Orrin's Charge on the RAVE Scene May Have Legal Hangover
By Dan Nailen, Salt Lake Tribune Columnist, October 8, 2002
The ACLU has a point. For the RAVE Act to be fair, promoters of all types of music events would have to be held responsible for the activities of the audience. Can you imagine Clear Channel executives being arrested because someone was using drugs at a Delta Center show, or United Concerts people being handcuffed because some '60s throwback was selling acid at the Deer Valley Bob Dylan show?"Rave Act" Action Alert
Talkleft, October 8, 2002
Chemical Warfare: The RAVE Act
By Will Doig, Metro Weekly, October 8, 2002
At the security checkpoint, a man in a windbreaker asks you to remove your jacket, your shoes and your hat. You lift your arms parallel to the floor and he frisks just about every inch of your body. Your hair is searched. He checks your piercings. You lift up your tongue so he can look underneath with a flashlight. You think, "So this is how produce feels." You pass the inspection, minus one Chapstick.ASK THE DJ / Evolution's Jon Sutton
By Humberto Guida, Miami.com, October 3, 2002
Question:The U.S. Congress is considering the RAVE Act, which includes stiff penalties for promoters when narcotics are sold or used at their events. Many fear this will deter people from throwing parties. Would the U.K. dance community tolerate a law like that?Study in Primates Shows Brain Damage From Doses of Ecstasy
By Donald G. McNeil, Jr., New York Times, (reg. req'd). September 27, 2002
The amount of the drug Ecstasy that some recreational users take in a single night may cause permanent brain damage and lead to symptoms like those of Parkinson's disease, a study in primates has found.Buzz Killed: Legendary D.C. Party Is RAVE Act's First Victim
By empathogen75, September 20, 2002
Before the RAVE Act is even passed, it's having a chilling effect on the dance music scene. It will only get worse after the bill passes. Here in DC, we're going to take the scene back underground, with warehouse parties and map-points, just like it was back in the old days. There's no way this is going to kill the scene. It's just going to put it back into places where they can't see it and they can't control it.Rave promoters, enthusiasts defend the events
By Steven Hyden and Greg Bump, Post-Crescent staff writers, September 19, 2002
While raves started out as clandestine, Ecstasy-fueled techno music parties held illegally in warehouses in the late 1980s, they have evolved into professionally organized live music events not unlike a conventional concert, he said.Antirave new world
By Evelyn McDonnell, Miami Herald, September 18, 2002
A bill expected to pass the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent this fall could have a chilling effect on Florida's nightclub industry. Senate bill S. 2633, a k a the Reducing Americans' Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act of 2002, or the RAVE Act, would broaden federal standards for prosecuting venues under the so-called crack-house laws, which were designed to stamp out crack cocaine dealers. It would also add stiff civil penalties.ACLU Action Alert: Oppose Culture War Against Raves!
September 5, 2002
A new kind of social event that mixes an electronic music concert, light show and dancing--popularly known as raves--has been similarly stigmatized. The media often portray raves as dangerous, sinister drug fests and the people who attend them as criminals who only use the events to sell drugs to youth. Raves, however, are a legitimate cultural event just like rock concerts, art exhibitions and film screenings, and are an important outlet for youth culture today.While I'm happy to see Senator Biden's clarification, I don't think that my nephew will be attempting to promote any concerts for a while. I think that's a shame.
what is an LLC's Operating Agreement, and where can I get one?
An Operating Agreement is critical to the planning, development, and operation of a Limited Liability Company. It should directly reflect the business plan and correctly frame the relationships, rights, duties, and authorities of the members and officers.
As it should reflect the business plan, there should be a business plan. So if you are going to create an LLC, start at the beginning and make a business plan. A business plan does not need to be much more than an improved outline of what you want to do and how you plan to get there. The process of writing it down is very helpful and may highlight problem areas for you before you experience the problem.
Here are some links to sites which can assist you in preparing a business plan:
Small Business Administration
Remember, it is the process of developing the business plan that may be as helpful as the finished product itself. Don't skip this planning process by blindly incorporating someone else's sample form, or you will have missed the point. You may find it helpful to consult with a professional during this planning phase.
Once you have your Business Plan, then we start with the drafting of your Operating Agreement. The LLC's Operating Agreement is akin to a mix between a corporation's by-laws, and a partnership agreement. The assistance of an attorney may be helpful to you at this stage to frame the concepts that you have developed in your Business Plan in the context of the formal drafting of the Operating Agreement. Forms are useful to the extent that they remind us of topics that should be addressed, but they are dangerous in that they can be misused to drive the drafting process instead of being driven by it. They are doubly dangerous because they tend to encourage people to skip the planning phase, and just "fill in the blanks". With every business endeavor, planning is critical. And anything that interferes with or prevents planning is to be viewed as an obstacle, not a help. As my Granny used to say... "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".
[October, 11, 2002, 3:19pm -- Larry, another resource for putting together a business plan that I like very much is from the Online Business course at MyOwnBusiness.com. I like it so much, that I'm adding it here as an addendum to your post rather than as a comment, so that people interested in this topic can also visit over there. I think it approaches everything from a very practical perspective, which makes it worth looking at. The quizzes it includes aren't really necessary, but the insights the course provides are really good. -- Bill]
Thursday, October 10, 2002
Here's a quiz question for you...In Delaware, at what age may you let your child be alone?
Well, it is unlawful to "abandon" a child of less than 16 years of age. In this context, "abandon" means to leave a child unattended with the intention not to return (ever). (11 Del.C. 1101.)
But if you don't intend for it to be permanent, by the letter of the law you can't leave a child without supervision until they reach 18. This is a very vague section (11 Del.C. 1102.), especially with respect to this issue. In fact, it doesn't specifically talk about it at all.
In practice, there may be an informal policy by the Division of Family Services not to suggest prosecution when children are age 12 and above, except in unusual circumstances. This is a policy, however, and not available to the public, according to a helpline social worker I spoke with. Her supervisor on the other hand, offered to mail me their new policy manual when it gets revised in a few weeks.
Meanwhile, at the link above, I found that DFS has its policy manuals online. This particular policy is at page 14 of the User Manual. Don't you just love it when our government workers refuse to permit us to see a policy that effects us? Here, the policy had already been posted on the internet. I wonder if the refusal had more to do with ignorance and laziness than actual reason. I am referring here to the intial contact worker, not to the supervisor. The supervisor was appropriate and helpful. Shouldn't the line worker be that way?
What does it mean to leave a child alone? Just what it says: you can't leave a child unsupervised in your car or home while you run into the store; you can't leave a child unsupervised if you have to leave for work before they have left for school; you can't leave a child unsupervised to walk to school or wait at the bus stop; you just cannot leave a child alone period.
I suspect in this county alone that there are tens of thousands of children, every school day, who are left alone at bus stops or walk to school alone. Technically, I think this is a violation of the law on the part of the parents, guardians (or whomever has undertaken the responsibility to care for that child). Should the police arrest those tens of thousands of parents each day?
If not, where is the rule or law that we can look to so as to be able to determine what is legal and what is not legal? (I take as a given for the purpose of this limited discussion that we as parents will make our parental but not legal analysis based upon our parental judgment. And so here I am only referring to the legal analysis.)
Should we rely upon a policy of DFS? Should that policy be posted in the open at schools and other public places? Have we delegated the law making authority to the employees of a State Agency that has a huge turnover rate? Or any State Agency?
This ambiguity troubles me greatly.
I found this helpful article online. While it covers these topics using Maryland law, the general discussion is pretty good.
Wednesday, October 09, 2002
law school at a distance
Can distance learning and law mix? Would you take a chance attending an online law school when the American Bar Association refuses to accredit the school? How will law firms react when a student from a virtual school applies for a position as an associate?
The South Florida Business Journal's article Virtual law school challenges norm reports that a third of Concord Law School's first graduating class will be taking the California bar exam this February. The school is based in Boca Raton, but its students and professors live all over the country. Their biggest hurdle appears to be getting American Bar Association accreditation, but it will be interesting to see how many of their students pass the California bar. The school presently has 1,100 students.
I'm looking forward seeing what shape Stanford's Center for E-Commerce will eventually take. I like the idea of a law school looking at online business in depth, and working towards helping people to consider the legal aspects of electronic commerce. A news.com article, Stanford puts Net policies to the test, describes the focus of the school's efforts:
The new Center for E-Commerce, announced Tuesday, will be an interdisciplinary project that will try to help lawyers, business people and the general public shape policy and grapple with legal questions presented by the Internet. The center will host conferences and speaking engagements where people can hash out issues including Internet jurisdiction, intellectual property and the legal fallout of the dot-com bust.I hope that they extend the reach of their program beyond hosting local events by building an web-based repository of articles and information.
If they need a model for what could be done, one approach that they might want to consider is the Wharton School's Knowledge @ Wharton.
Imagine if you could stop the hands of time, and capture the moment, hang on it, and reap whatever riches it brings.
A couple of years back, a copyright extension act was passed by Congress. Some people who were hoping to benefit from the entry of books, music, and film into the public domain were denied that opportunity because the act added another 20 years to works protected under copyright. When those artistic endeavors were created some 70 or so years ago, there was no expectation that copyright would still be in effect and royalties would still be rolling in come the twenty-first century.
We value freedom of expression in the United States. But, we also believe in giving people an incentive to create, and in rewarding them for their artistic expressions. When you render it down to simple terms, copyright is a way of limiting expression by giving people who have created something new an opportunity to benefit from that expression. Our founding fathers limited that monopoly over expressions. People would profit from their works, and then the expressions and ideas would enter into the public domain where others could use those creations to make something new. Or, at least, that was the idea.
An argument today before the Supreme Court in the case of Eldred v. Ashcroft challenged the latest act to extend copyright which benefits companies like Disney. If the challenge is successful, the movie makers would lose some of their oldest creations to the public domain. The greatest irony, perhaps, is that Disney's most loved accomplishments were movies based upon older tales from the public domain, such as Cinderella, Snow White and the Little Mermaid.
The studio has a new movie coming out this Friday. I read a New York Times review (reg. req'd) yesterday, and a passage from that article made me think of Disney's efforts to cling so tightly to the past:
In some ways, it's the most obvious, evergreen story line around, the stuff of daydreams from Ponce de León onward. What sets "Tuck Everlasting" apart from the usual fairy-tale fantasy of immortality, however, is its dark, cautionary note about the dangers of interrupting nature's progression. "I was happy that in this seeming children's book, there was this lurking terror, not of death but of undeath," Mr. Hurt said in a telephone interview. "Most people think of life as the story of life and death. Death is a bookend. If you take that bookend away, what have you got?"The original idea behind copyright is a good one. Provide incentives for people to create. Give them an chance to earn some money and credit for their expressions. And then, allow those ideas to enter into society were they can be used by other people to create something new. Endlessly extending copyright protection interrupts that progression of expressions, and keeps them from being the inspiration for new works.
to do list for the supreme court today:
Tuesday, October 08, 2002
administrative agencies and privacy impact statements
A new House bill (pdf) introduced and passed by voice vote on Monday, might make federal agencies more sensitive to privacy concerns. The Federal Agency Protection of Privacy Act requires that agencies perform two different assessments of the impact on privacy of proposed rules.
The first would be published as an initial impact statement:
(A) A description and assessment of the extent to which the proposed rule will impact the privacy interests of individuals, including the extent to which the proposed ruleThe bill also calls for a final privacy impact analysis:
(A) A description and assessment of the extent to which the final rule will impact the privacy interests of individuals, including the extent to which the proposed ruleThis seems like a really good idea on paper. There's speculation that the Senate will follow suit, and introduce a version of this bill "at the end of the congressional session when other non-controversial bills are considered." I can't want to see the first initial impact statement on a regulation that does affect privacy.
a swiss magazine looks at lawyers blogging
It really is enjoyable to hear from visitors from around the globe. The web is a nonspatial place, where country borders find difficulty in limiting communication with people from all corners of the world. We've been fortunate to have been linked to by an online magazine from Switzerland this week. The magazine is Jusletter, which is the "first legal on-line technical periodical of Switzerland." They come out with a new issue every week, and this week's issue includes the following article:
Weblogs ? ein Informations- und Wissens-Managment-Mittel für Juristinnen und Juristen?The magazine publishes in German. Fortunately, Altavista's Babelfish is around to translate it into English for us.
Weblogs - an information and a knowledge Managment means for lawyer inside and lawyers?Ok, the translation may not be perfect. I'm not sure exactly what they were trying to express with the first sentence in the synopsis of their article. But, it's interesting to see that legal weblogs are being looked at by the Swiss, and in a positive manner. To read the article, cut and paste the following URL into the appropriate box in Babelfish, and choose "German to English" in the drop down box next to it:
To our Swiss visitors: Dank für das Besuchen!
arts & letters daily
A site that we had on our list to the left has closed down. Arts & Letters Daily was an interesting place to find some of the more thoughtful and unusual articles on the web. The company that owned it, University Business LLC, filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, and the site will be auctioned off as one of the assets of the company later this month. We are replacing it with two new sites, which are associated with the former editors of Arts & Letters Daily. One is SciTech Daily Review, and the other is Philosophy & Literature. I'm sorry to see the old site go. Thank you Tran Huu Dung and Denis Dutton, for all your hard work.
Monday, October 07, 2002
lawyers, guns, and honeys
The Vice President of Iraq has proposed that Saddam and George W. duel to resolve their differences, and that the U.N. Secretary General Koffi Annan be the referee. The respective Vice Presidents would be standing by as Seconds, in case both leaders died at the same time. Alternatively, Italian porn star turned politician (or is it the other way around?) Ilona Staller, has offered to give herself to Saddam in exchange for world peace. The U.N. Secretary General is "amused".
I think they are both good ideas, assuming all participants are willing adults. ~
[the links to Ms. Staller's sites were intentionally omitted]
a hacker oriented introduction to lawschool
LawMeme has a very enjoyable look at the Eldred v. Ashcroft case in the guise of an introduction to law school for programmers and web designers. Law School in a Nutshell, Part 1, and Law School in a Nutshell, Part II, are both fun, and educational. Very nicely done.