opinions, everybody's got one...
Saturday, October 19, 2002
Defining Organic Food Labeling
I was over checking out what's in rebecca's pocket, when I came across a post on the federally mandated labeling of organic foods. She points to an article from last Tuesday that describes a food revolution settling into place this coming week:
Next Monday, organic food will take its largest leap ever into mainstream America when the federal government puts into effect a new national system of organic food labeling.Rebecca points out some other articles worth reading that ponder if small farms producing organic foods will suffer at the hands of big business with this change, and question what the term "organic" actually means anymore.
You'll see those labels in your grocery store on Monday.
Business Plans and Contracts on the Web
I just came across the fourth part in a series called This Web Business from A List Apart. I read through the four parts and another article by the author, and they are definitely worth reading if you run a business on the web. Here are the parts:
Part one: A Simple Plan -- on putting together a business plan.
Part two: Getting a Loan -- on the benefits and methods of financing your business.
Part three: Selecting Professionals -- on finding accountants, attorneys, financial institutions, and registered agents.
Part four: Business Entity Options -- on the benefits and detriments of different types of business forms.
In addition, the author of those articles has also written another article for A List Apart called In Praise of Contracts, which offers some really good advice.
Friday, October 18, 2002
ACLU Commercials on TV
The ACLU is trying to Keep America Safe and Free, according to a Wired magazine columnist who reports about them in an article called ACLU Acts Against Patriot Act. As part of the campaign, they've created commercials which are:
featuring a close-up of a hand cutting up and re-writing the U.S. Constitution as a voiceover charges Attorney General John Ashcroft with violating the First and Fourth amendments, which guarantee free speech and guards against unreasonable searches and seizures.It will be interesting to see some of these on prime time TV.
One stat that I'm staggered by in the Wired article is that the Operation Tips page reports that it has resulted in more than 200,000 tips being received from the public (see the last paragraph on the TIPS page).
Thursday, October 17, 2002
Visas Denied in Digital Millennium Copyright Case
It sounds a bit like the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, but the American Counsulate in Russia denied visas to two key witnesses in a trial under the DMCA, which is scheduled to start on October 21st.
PlanetPDF broke this story originally, and has more details. No reason was given for the denial of the visas.
DMCA Compromising Computer Security in the US?
M. Claire Stewart is linking to some great articles over on Current copyright readings, quickly making her blog an indispensible source of information on subjects such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
One of the latest is a story in the Register called If I tell you that I'll have to kill you: Red Hat fights the DMCA:
Red Hat has struck a small blow against the DMCA, by publishing a security patch which can only be explained fully to people who are not within US jurisdiction. The company's position here seems to be not altogether voluntary - according to a spokesman "it is bizarre, and unfortunately something Red Hat cannot easily do much about," but like it or not Red Hat has been recruited to the campaign to make the DMCA look ridiculous.The explanation behind the security patch details, in part, how security can be breached in the Red Hat system and how the patch addresses that problem. Because of this, it could possibly be viewed as a violation of the DMCA.
To keep the company safe from breaking the law, the explanation for the patch is only available through another link which leads to Thefreeworld's 'NO DMCA' licence, in which you have to warrant that you are not an American citizen, or within America's jurisdiction. I didn't press the button to accept the license that clearly states: "I accept the license. I am not a US citizen, nor resident in an US Territory." (Not because I'm an American citizen, within America's jurisdiction. I just don't need the patch, so I didn't have to go there.)
If you need this security patch, and its explanation, and you are an American citizen, you might want to send a comment to the Copyright Office of the Library of Congress and explain how the DMCA might be possibly compromising the security of your computer system. Unfortunately, the length of the comment period might leave your computer vulnerable to people outside of the US who have access to the Red Hat information. The patch is still available to you without the license, which applies to the explanation of what the patch does. From the license:
Note that if you are a US citizen or under US jurisdiction, circumventing this access control is a violation of the DMCA, punishable a prison term of up to 5 years and a fine of up to $500,000 per violation. On request access_log information will be provided to the law enforcement agencies from the jurisdiction where this webserver resides.This may be something that we will have to get used to unless Congress revisits this law.
Off the Fence
Charlie.nu has a new blog on Law, Technology and Society, Politics, Humor, and Geeks called Off the Fence. He is going to be entering law school soon, and the site has hit the ground running.
Speaking of running, he has posted a link to a series from New York Lawyer magazine called Law 101: Running From the Law, about Lawyers getting out of the legal profession. Stop by, and say hello. via Ernie the Attorney)
Wednesday, October 16, 2002
New Deputy Alderman at City of Newark Alderman's Court
This morning I was sworn in as the Deputy Alderman for the Alderman's Court of the City of Newark. I shall continue in my private practice, and other business ventures, but I shall not take any new criminal defense cases.
Full Faith and Credit, and Tax Collection
A resident of Nevada, who formerly lived in California, sued a California tax collection agency because they were allegedly harassing him to pay taxes owed in California.
The Nevada court ruled that a California law declaring its immunity to such suits was trumped by Nevada's interest in punishing the sort of harassment alleged by Hyatt.The dispute has mushroomed from a dispute over taxes to a question of the relationship between states. The US Supreme Court has decided to hear this case, California Franchise Tax Board v. Hyatt, probably in early 2003.
First ADA Action Against a Web Site?
A man unable to make a plane reservation online via a screen reader may be bringing the first suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) versus a business based upon their internet access. Does the ADA apply to the internet? The federal government is required to bring accessibility to people with disabilities under Section 508. But, how accessible are your web site's pages? Take them for a spin through the Watchfire Corporation's scanner Bobby to find out.
[October 17, 2002 -- See Dive into Mark on the Myths of Web Accessibility, for some fine writing on why accessibility matters, and how it adds to a site, rather than taking anything away.]
[October 22, 2002 -- the judge hearing this case has ruled that the Disabilities Act does not cover the web. ]
This quote, from the United Arab Emirates Minister of Information and Culture, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zaid al-Nahayan, on the subject of the sole ISP in his country blocking certain internet addresses is encouraging:
Knowledge is the right of the citizen before it is the right of the government to prevent the citizen from the means of acquiring knowledge.I hope that it's a sentiment that will be shared in other places where people are considering limiting access to ideas online everywhere. (via the excellent BNA Internet Law News)
From the Front Line
You've probably been pointed towards Larry Lessig's reflections on the argument he presented in Eldred v. Ashcroft, but if you haven't visited his blog and read them, they make for interesting reading. Regardless of some of the hesitations he might hold, I don't think that we could have hoped for a better voice to make the arguments that he did. Thank you, Professor Lessig.
I'm looking forward to the time when Vàclav Havel becomes a poet and a writer of plays once more. The following is from an essay written by him and translated by Paul Wilson in the New York Review of Books called A Farewell to Politics that deserves attention:
I am saying only this: to set out on the path of reason, peace, and justice means a lot of hard work, self-denial, patience, knowledge, a calm overview, a willingness to risk misunderstanding. At the same time, it means that everyone ought to be able to judge his or her own capacity and act accordingly, expecting either that one's strength will grow with the new tasks one sets oneself or that it will run out. In other words, there is no more relying on fairy tales and fairy-tale heroes. There is no more relying on the accidents of history that lift poets into places where empires and military alliances are brought down. The warning voices of poets must be carefully listened to and taken very seriously, perhaps even more seriously than the voices of bankers or stock brokers. But at the same time, we cannot expect that the world -- in the hands of poets -- will suddenly be transformed into a poem.His three observations, lessons learned, or perhaps just reinforced from his time in politics, at the end of the essay are ones we might all wish to consider.
Monday, October 14, 2002
More on Stanford's Center of E-Commerce
An announcement was made recently that Stanford would be starting up an addition to their Program in Law, Science and Technology. Some more details are emerging from the School:
At the center, students will learn from business leaders and practicing lawyers as well as visiting scholars, policymakers and graduate students from outside the United States.It sounds like an exciting time to be attending classes at Stanford. Anyone aware of any other law schools that are considering similar programs?
Have an opinion on the US copyright laws? Is there something about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (pdf) that bothers you? Should there be an exception to the law? The Copyright Office of the Library of Congress is soliciting comments (pdf) from the public on possible exceptions. As zdnet news reports, this is only the second time in five years that the law is open for comment, and the first comment period did result in a couple of exceptions to the law. What types of comments are they looking for?
This time around, the office is again asking for specific examples of cases where the law's restrictions cause "actual instances of verifiable problems occurring in the marketplace."The Copyright Office's notice does give more information on how to get your comments to them, and includes a deadline date of December 18th for written initial comments. Electronic internet comments can be made through this page on their site.
Reply comments may also be made (comments that are replies to comments filed during the initial period) from January 21, 2003 through February 19, 2003:
In the reply comments, persons who oppose or support any exemptions proposed in the initial comments will have the opportunity to respond to the proposals made in the initial comments and to provide factual information and legal argument addressing whether a proposed exemption should be adopted. Since the reply comments are intended to be responsive to the initial comments, reply commenters must identify what proposed class they are responding to, whether in opposition, support, amplification or correction. As with initial comments, reply comments should first identify the proposed class, provide a summary of the argument, and then provide the factual and/or legal support for their argument. This format of class/summary/facts and/or legal argument should be repeated for each reply to a particular class of work proposed. The Copyright Office intends to place the comments and reply comments that are submitted in this proceeding on its website (http://www.copyright.gov/1201).That page also leads to much more detail regarding the formats to be followed in submitting comments, and details regarding the previous rulemakings under the DMCA.
I was having so much fun with the Lost in Translation page which had been posted over at Metafilter that I thought I'd share it over here. The page allows you to enter a phrase in English, and then it translates it into another language, then back into English, and so on for five different languages, finally returning a result in English that often looks little like the original. The question, though, was what phrase to use.
One phrase that's very important to understand is a Miranda warning. The exact wording of the warning varies from state to state, but the basic ideas behind it remain the same in each. Not understanding a Miranda warning can be a problem, so I thought I would also look a little at how comprehension of Miranda rights might be viewed from a psychological and legal stance.
A Miranda warning used in Oregon:
1. You have the right to remain silent.The Oregon warning babelized:
1. They have the right to continue being calm.In a fairly recent Delaware case (pdf), we see that the Court bases its determination on whether Miranda warnings were understood in a totality of the circumstances test. One aspect of the opinion looks at whether psychological tests were administered, and of what type. In this particular case, the test applied was Professor Thomas Grisso's Instruments for Assessing, Understanding, and Appreciation of Miranda Rights.
Another issue that is often raised is the competency of juveniles to understand Miranda warnings. A page from the Washington State Bar News called Juveniles? Waiver of Miranda Rights: Competence and Evaluation delves into the problems that situation presents and examines how Professor Grisso's tests are used in this context.
First, the Comprehension of Miranda Rights asks the individual to paraphrase the four warnings to assess his or her general level of comprehension of the warnings. Second, the Comprehension of Miranda Rights-Recognition asks the subject to identify other statements that are "the same as" or "different from" Miranda warnings. This second test addresses the difficulty that some subjects may understand adequately but lack the verbal ability to express what they know.There is also the possiblity of involving parents and guardians when the comprehension of Miranda rights by juveniles is a question, and a Vanderbilt Law Review article proposing to to "strengthen juvenile Miranda rights" by Requiring Parental Presence in Custodial Interrogations goes into detail on that subject.
Sunday, October 13, 2002
Even Alaskan Natives like me get the Mickie D Munchies once in a while. But we should all know that three meals a day at fast food establishments may turn us into a moose. So try out the low fat entree items!