May 282009

Brian Cuban has been in the news a lot lately for spearheading a campaign to get FaceBook to ban groups of Holocaust deniers. I fear I may have inadvertently picked a fight with him on Twitter however when I recently tweeted:

“Can’t support (@bcuban‘s efforts to force FBook to purge Holocaust deniers. Suppressing those who were X in ’30s enabled what happened in 40s.”

Of course, as I also tweeted later, “Nothing like tweeting about the Holocaust 140 characters at a time…” While I know what I meant by my tweet, so compressed my meaning might not be clear to others. So I’ll elaborate here.
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 Posted by at 7:44 am
May 272009

One of the most interesting courses I took in law school was on comparative constitutional law, which I took during my semester in Germany. I think as Americans we tend to take for granted our federal constitution: that it exists, and how it exists. No matter what the school of thought behind how it should be interpreted, there’s a reverence towards it that percolates through all of them. We therefore tend to expect that other modern democracies have their own constitutional equivalents — an expectation that in reality is rarely met. Many democracies have no constitutions at all, or when they do, they don’t necessarily map to our own.

Of course, we needn’t look abroad to see these other examples of constitutions. Within our own borders each state bears its own constitution, which may greatly differ in form and substance from the one tying our nation together. Case in point: California.

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 Posted by at 10:06 pm
May 252009

It’s Blawg Review, and once again I’ve been organized enough to contribute to it. Kevin Thompson at Cyberlaw Central is hosting and has composed his Blawg Review in honor of Towel Day, a day of tribute to Douglas Adams, author of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. That guide is known for its helpful travel tips, including that one must always be sure to have their towel.

Speaking of travel, my post about going to INTA is linked to this Blawg Review, but without the picture my friend took of me there holding a Travelodge towel due to some concern on my part that given the angle, lighting, and wardrobe choices (or lack thereof) I ended up looking too much like an artichoke in said picture. So instead I sent in a different one, one where there’s no danger of me being confused for being a vegetable of any kind. (At least none known in this part of the galaxy.)

 Posted by at 7:29 am
May 242009

I suppose I have Jeremy Phillips, aka @ipkat, to blame. One of the legal folks I met in England earlier this year, it was he who first suggested I attend the annual INTA conference this year. INTA is an international trademark organization, and thus I might not have thought to attend given that I’ve typically focused more on copyright than trademark in my cyberlaw work. But cyberlaw is rife with trademark issues, and, like, copyright, trademark law deals with regulating expression — which is what fascinates me about these areas of law generally. So perhaps it would be worth attending?

Of course, once I realized how many people from around the world I knew who would be there, there was no question.

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 Posted by at 11:42 am
May 032009

The Inside Washington show today was talking about the popularity and potency of the Obama administration. Even people who don’t like his policies seem to like him, which, they point out, poses a huge problem for his political opposition.
Count me among those people who like him, but are not quite behind all his policies. Make no mistake: there is no one else I’d want to have be president right now. His intellect, poise, thoughtfulness, meticulousness, etc., mean that although there’s a slew of things going wrong in the world I can bear the news of them with so much less anxiety because I trust that someone capable is in charge of getting us through it. As I’ve said before, it’s not policies I care about, per se, but the methodology by which they are developed. And his methodology I’m inclined to trust a lot.

And yet, on several big ticket issues I care about, I find many of his current policies coming up short in troubling ways. Stocking the DOJ with representatives of the content cartels and backing their litigation efforts against users, supporting the government’s efforts to spy on citizens’ communications with even greater zeal than even Bush had, taking a rather milquetoasty approach to the Bush administration’s torture program, these policies all run completely contrary to everything I’ve endeavored to fight against in my personal and professional life. Moreover, they also run completely counter to the liberal ethos he espoused in his campaign, and, indeed, the values I suspect he truly believes in.
So I comfort myself with the thought that he is just getting started. It is a new administration, only slightly more than 100 days into his multi-year marathon, with an enormous list of crises and tasks to deal with. That he has already handled so many with the deftness someone with much more experience in his role could only hope to have is to his credit and inspires tremendous confidence. Thus I feel it’s only a matter of time before he realizes the folly of some of his administration’s positions, including how they may prove counterproductive to his larger policy goals. There are already some good and talented people in his midst ready willing and able to point this reality out to him, and others like me on the outside who will continue to advocate for these polices’ reversal.

I still believe he’s the kind of president who will hear us.

 Posted by at 5:41 pm