First actual post
Welcome to my blog. Thanks to Joe Nekrasz for helping me set it up.
I'm still testing everything, so too soon to start with the "serious" writing.
Come back soon!
Welcome to my blog. Thanks to Joe Nekrasz for helping me set it up.
I'm still testing everything, so too soon to start with the "serious" writing.
Come back soon!
In the fall I will begin law school. With several friends who have already gone through it, and having also talked to some lawyers and researched law schools, I've come to learn that the law school regimen is designed to change how one thinks generally, and particularly about the law. I am curious about how this transformation will affect me, so I decided to blog so that I could track the process.
It seems a pity that it should require a JD to truly understand the American legal system. Average citizens clearly have a sense of how things work, but from what I've observed of lawyers and law students, it seems that what people in general think about how the law works and how it actually works are frequently not the same.
Right now I am still a layman. I have my sense of how things *should* be, and I want to blog my experience to see how my perspective changes as I find out how things are. Maybe to some extent my idealized perspective and reality are the same. I suspect that frequently the opposite will be true. I wonder if I will somehow be converted into seeing the "rightness" of how things actually are, or if I will resist and continue to think that the idealized version is better. Probably all of the above.
In the meantime, I have several months before I begin law school (at a school to be named later). My consciousness has already been raised regarding certain legal issues (which is what movitivated me to pursue becoming a lawyer). Over the summer I suspect I will want to comment on those issues. Such blogging not only gives me a soapbox but also provides a benchmark for my legal sensibilities as a layman.
I suppose there's no point in writing in great depth right now about who I am. I'm sure plenty of details will leak out as I write. I will probably also post about non-law related things in my life. Just because they are interesting, and because they make me me. And who I am now probably will make a significant difference in who I am once I'm done with school.
(Though for a quick snapshot about who I am, you might want to visit my homepage.)
I'd recently read about Arista's plans to start releasing in larger quantities "cd's" with so-called "copy protection" in yet another volley by the Record Industry in the war against fair use.
Meanwhile, and this is one of the details about me that was bound to leak out at some point, I'm a Huey Lewis and the News fan (someday I'll explain further about what this means vis a vis my life...) and I've been participating on a chat board for Huey Lewis and the News fans.
Someone posted that Duran Duran (yes, this was off-topic) had just been signed to Arista. I commented thusly:
Way way back in 7th grade I met one of my best friends because of Duran Duran. I was a HLN fan, and she a Duran Duran fan. We used to ask each other trivia questions about each other's bands. Back and forth... for months! In the meantime we did discover other things to say to each other and became proper friends... But even though I've never gotten all that into Duran Duran, I still have a soft spot in my heart for them because of that.
I do not, however, have a soft spot for Arista who plans on polluting the market with copy-protected "cd's". I would not recommend buying them*, not if you believe you should own the music you buy and be able to play it on whatever device you choose, be it a stereo, computer, or any device designed to play media created with the CD standard. Copy protection is not part of the standard, so these copy-protected "cd's" frequently break standards-compliant devices as well as eliminate the fair use rights you have previously enjoyed. And by "break" I mean anything from "not play properly or at all" to "get jammed inside of" to "permanently damage the equipment."
* It's very difficult to tell which compact discs are legitimate and which are the usage-impaired "copy-protected" ones because only some of them are labelled as such. You might want to think of supporting the Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act (DMCRA, H.R. 107) which would call for labelling all such discs so that you don't get caught buying the wrong ones.
Stay tuned to see how people react. I do think I may need to learn to be more subtle (at least in that forum - I'm probably developing a reputation, and maybe it's not one I would want). On the other hand, Paul Revere was said to have galloped through the village shouting "The British are coming!" and I don't think many Americans would have wished him to have been more subtle in the warning. Sometimes the threats are more real and more urgent and need to be treated as such. The problem is when other people are unaware of the urgency and get turned off by a tone of alarm that they can't possibly believe is reasonable, so they therefore never become informed of just how dire the circumstances are.
It turns out that Duran Duran may not have been signed to Arista after all. Apparently the source of this tidbit may not have been all that reliable. Nonetheless the points about Arista still stand.
In other depressing news regarding the RIAA's bullying, today the Justice Department weighed in on their side in the RIAA v. Verizon case. This is very annoying, particularly in light of the Appellate court's decision limiting Verizon's ability to present amicus curiae briefs in support of their position. The RIAA are under the same limitation, but they get a bonus by having the government on their side.
In this case the government is wrong. If the RIAA wins it will represent a horrible blow to personal privacy and significantly chill people's inclination to speak freely. Of course, with Total Information Awareness, the Patriot Act and all its demon offspring and inbred cousins, the current Justice Department has already shown a tremendous disregard for all sorts of privacy. So while it's a disappointing position for them to take, it's hardly surprising.
I suppose within the context of my own blog I should explain the cases and other items I refer to. But I am way too tired and have too much of a headache to be able to do so coherently. Go follow the link for more information for now.
It's not like I don't have enough on my mind without having to deal with these fair-use-killing, freedom-squelching, technology-stifling small-minded greedy oligarchs.
The chilling and threatening litigation continues. I'll comment on it specifically one of these days but I wish to go on record now protesting the general absurdity.
In addition to stifling all sorts of freedoms and innovations, it's abhorrent the way they try to claim the moral high ground on the issue of file sharing. I got in an argument with one of my best friends last night, and I'm on the verge of picking a fight with another musician I've admired for nearly 20 years because although the RIAA doesn't serve their interests, they essentially buy into the RIAA's rhetoric equating file sharing with piracy.
It isn't. That association is wrong and oversimplistic. I think file sharing is the Kindergarten principle simply expanded: that it's good to share. (Although this too is oversimplified. My thoughts on it are more robust but for the moment I will linger on this particular aspect.) My friend did raise an interesting point, wondering if it's one thing to share with friends and another to share with strangers on such a wide scale. It's worth thinking about, but I don't think a negative answer to that question should still impugn file sharing, if for no other reason than by banning file sharing and its technology, you also ban myriad legitimate uses, both actual and future, in an unaccepatable way that threatens others' freedom of expression. Not all files shared on P2P systems are copyrighted by entities unwilling to have them shared, but destroying the technology at the behest of those who are unwilling also destroys the avenue for other people who would wish to have their work disseminated through that technological vehicle. And by work, it's not just music or MP3s: pictures, other sound technology, video, documents... file sharing is file sharing. All sorts of files - and encapsulated in them, all sorts of ideas - can be shared. The impact of shutting down the alleged "copyright-infringing" tools means that much more is destroyed.
At some point I will be inclined to elaborate further. Right now I want to throw a tantrum at the persistent destructive litigious stupidity of the RIAA, and I mourn the fact that a huge rift is opening up between me and others I care about over this issue. This type of battle for these types of threatened freedoms is what I want to devote my life to. I hope I don't have to lose people who mean a lot to me in the process.
In the meantime, for a humor break, here's a funny comment on Slashdot today regarding the RIAA's legal activities.
Tonight I went to a Kaplan-BarBri free seminar on the first year law experience. I hate enabling Kaplan and its hard-sell marketing pitches, but it was free so I went. The event itself became sort of a hard-sell for the weeklong BarBri prep course. I'm not impressed by the pitch, but I might do it anyway because it's worth it to me to turn over any stones I can in order to succeed at this.
The guy who led it was interesting; I could see him being a good lecturer because he led a stimulating class session. But his assessment of the law school experience at times seemed a bit off in comparison to what I've gathered from other students. And I tried to ask him a question at the end that he just couldn't seem to understand (although I was tired so I suppose I may be responsible for a lack of coherence in the query).
He had raised the issue that for a lawyer, the goal is to take a fact and somehow make it support the client's position. Each side has the same fact to deal with so clearly the treatment won't be the same in most instances. He sort of suggested that the gist of law school was to learn how to handle facts in that way. But I was wondering if there's a third viewpoint - that of a third-party arbiter of justice. That party wouldn't need to wrap facts in such a way to be a proponent of a position: instead it would be guardian of a principle, to set groundwork so that certain types of fact patterns could fit uniform legal logic and be applied to many different cases. If the fact pattern of a case coincided with that of precedent, the precedent could be applied in the new case. His point seemed to suggest that precedent-applying, or even analysis with the purpose of being able to establish a coherent precedent, was not as important: manipulating facts to support arguments seemed to be. I think that's an important skill to learn in order to learn to be a good advocate, but I'm wondering if he overemphasized it as the crux of the law school experience?
Meanwhile I did finally hear an explanation of what the socratic method is: that the information comes from the student rather than being rotely distributed by the professor. So law professors structure their lectures so that the students are induced to reveal knowledge rather than simply receive what might have otherwise been spoonfed by the teacher.
People and employers with references to "Sudan, Burma and five other countries" are having those references automatically removed by Monster.com, claiming such removal is required by Federal law.
"In a move the company claims is designed to comply with federal regulations, Monster.com on Thursday will delete most references to those countries from job postings and resumes. A note that Monster.com sent to affected users says: 'Your resume will be altered, removing all sanctioned countries from your resume.'"
Regardless of whose idea this was, exactly how is the world going to be a better place as a result of this policy?
I didn't get a chance to post yesterday because of the frenzy of activity surrounding what I'm going to talk about: there finally was a legal decision regarding file sharing that was made correctly.
The RIAA and MPAA juggernaut, fearing what they allege to be "piracy" in the trade of music and video files, have tried to pick off each P2P service. They managed to effectively shut down Napster, having a court rule that Napster was liable for copyright infringement its users may have committed.
In the wake of that decision, the players in the P2P space readjusted their businesses and their technology and introduced new client software. The RIAA and MPAA then went after them. And thanks to the EFF, they didn't succeed.
Assuming the decision survives on appeal (and it's a near certainty that the US District Court ruling will be appealed) it correctly makes a delineation between the Napster P2P model and the new model of P2P technology, it correctly applies the Sony Betamax decision (1984 or thereabouts), and it notes that tools that allow for legitimate uses cannot be banned because some people might use them for illicit uses.
I read the decision and found it to be quite readable. I recommend all people interested in this issue to read it for themselves. It's written in plain (enough) language and does not require extensive knowledge of the issue in order to understand.
Today was my last day as erstwhile webmaster for the EFF. The regular webmaster had gone off to Australia for a month and since I was already hanging around interning, they asked if I'd mind covering. Mind??!! It was probably the most visible and most important web site I'd ever worked on. Two pages I spent particular "effort" on (actually, it was just basic HTML - nothing too challenging technically or creatively) were linked to Slashdot during my tenure. This one on the state-level Super-DMCAs, and the one about the Morpheus/Grokster decision. That was an exciting day - having that verdict announced and then needing to get everything coded quickly so that it could be reflected on the web site.
This needed to be posted. The RIAA is going to look for downloads of certain songs, then send threatening instant messages via the P2P client software telling them they're breaking the law.
I wonder if they can be found guilty of practicing law without a license. To my knowledge, file sharing may in fact be a legitimate instance of fair use. To say otherwise is an opinion, not a factual certainty as the RIAA would have us all believe.
On edit, here is the text of the warning:
COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT WARNING: It appears that you are offering copyrighted music to others from your computer. Distributing or downloading copyrighted music on the Internet without permission from the copyright owner is ILLEGAL. It hurts songwriters who create and musicians who perform the music you love, and all the other people who bring you music.
When you break the law, you risk legal penalties.There is a simple way to avoid that risk: DON'T STEAL MUSIC, either by offering it to others to copy or downloading it on a "file-sharing" system like this.
When you offer music on these systems, you are not anonymous and you can easily be identified.You also may have unlocked and exposed your computer and your private files to anyone on the Internet. Don't take these chances. Disable the share feature or uninstall your "file-sharing" software.
For more information on how, go to http://www.musicunited.net/5_takeoff.html.
This warning comes from artists, songwriters, musicians, music publishers, record labels and hundreds of thousands of people who work at creating and distributing the music you enjoy. We are unable to receive direct replies to this message. For more information about this Copyright Warning, go to www.musicunited.net.
Just to follow-up, Monster.com apparently backpedalled on the censoring of job postings containing references to blacklisted countries. However, I still think the whole thing is ridiculous. I don't think Monster was under any legal burden to do so, and if the Administration wants to assert that they have one, then Bush et. al. are seriously overextending the term "services" in the sanctions. Either people are free to live and work where they want, or they aren't free. I don't believe the Bush Administration has any right to interfere with that level of personal freedom, but then again, since when is freedom important to them?