July 29, 2006
Pledge Protection Act of 2005
By a vote of 260-167, the House has passed a bill (H. R. 2389) "to protect the Pledge of Allegiance from federal judges who might try to stop schoolchildren and others from reciting it because of the phrase 'under God'". [RJ]
Cultures of Corruption: Evidence From Diplomatic Parking Tickets
Cultures of Corruption: Evidence From Diplomatic Parking Tickets (NBER)
by Raymond Fisman, Edward Miguel
Abstract: Corruption is believed to be a major factor impeding economic development, but the importance of legal enforcement versus cultural norms in controlling corruption is poorly understood. To disentangle these two factors, we exploit a natural experiment, the stationing of thousands of diplomats from around the world in New York City.
Diplomatic immunity means there was essentially zero legal enforcement of diplomatic parking violations, allowing us to examine the role of cultural norms alone. This generates a revealed preference measure of government officials' corruption based on real-world behavior taking place in the same setting. We find strong persistence in corruption norms: diplomats from high corruption countries (based on existing survey-based indices) have significantly more parking violations, and these differences persist over time. In a second main result, officials from countries that survey evidence indicates have less favorable popular views of the United States commit significantly more parking violations, providing non-laboratory evidence on sentiment in economic decision-making. Taken together, factors other than legal enforcement appear to be important determinants of corruption.
July 28, 2006
The House Passes DOPA
Our sister blog, Tech Law Prof Blog is reporting on the House's passage of Deleting Online Predators Act by a vote of 410-15 yesterday. DOPA is the response by Congress to sexual predators using the Internet and social-networking sites to prey on children. Critics view the bill as poorly written and overly broad to accomplish the task. [JH]
CALI Legal Education Podcasting Project Survey
John Mayer has posted the final survey results from the Legal Education Podcasting Project. Check it out. [JH]
AOL and Google Testing Adaptive Technologies for the Visually and Hearing Impaired
TechWeb Technology News is reporting that AOL and Google are testing online services for the handicap. According to the report AOL is testing closed captions in streaming news from CNN to help the deaf or hearing impaired, and Google's research unit is testing a search engine that favors Web pages it determines are easier to read for the visually impaired. The Google service, which the company calls "accessible search," examines the HTML behind Web pages to find those that have fewer visual distractions, render well with images turned off, and have other attributes favorable to the visually impaired. [JH]
New Study Refutes Ethanol Cost Saving Claim
From Growing Federal and State Ethanol Subsidies Won't Dampen Prices at the Pump by the National Taxpayers Union & NTUF:
"With Mid-East turmoil, rising demand for energy, and record high gas prices, some politicians view ethanol as a panacea to Americans’ energy concerns, but ... ethanol is not up to the job. [The report] predicts that consumers and taxpayers will see few benefits from growing federal subsidies to a 30-year-old industry that has yet to become self-sufficient."
EUR-Lex is the official portal to European Union laws, including case law and treaties. Bookmark it! [RJ]
Tax Law Journal Rankings by Citation
Are they really useful for anything? Certainly not very much for collection development. We do our patrons a disservice if we rely too heavily on citation counts to decide on keeping or terminating a journal title; patron use is far more meaningful. [JH]
Opening: Continuations Specialist, Albany Law School
Albany Law School seeks a Library Continuations (Serials) Specialist. This position is responsible for receiving continuations (serials) and creating and maintaining records for them in Sirsi's Unicorn library management system, preparing and handling materials for bindery, claiming, and preparing material for the shelves. This material is complex; dealing with it offers an on-going challenge and learning experience. The successful candidate must be detail-oriented, possess excellent organizational skills, and be able to work independently.
Qualifications include: Bachelor's degree and minimum one year of related library experience; Associate's degree with more extensive experience considered. Ability to analyze and resolve problems and apply rules and procedures, strong communication and interpersonal skills, experience with MS-Windows and personal computers and the ability to shelve and retrieve books and lift boxes required.
Albany Law School offers competitive pay and a comprehensive benefit package. To apply, please send cover letter and resume to:
Albany Law School
Attn: Director of Human Resources
80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208-3494
Fax: (518) 445-3262
Visit the school's website at www.albanylaw.edu.
Albany Law School is an Equal Opportunity Employer
July 27, 2006
ABA Article on the Future of Law Reviews
Kudos to TaxProf Blog editor and co-founder of the Law Professor Blogs Network Paul Caron for being featured in this month's ABA Joural: Revising Law Review: Journals Struggle for Relevancy in a Field Redefined by the Internet, by Terry Carter. [JH]
Judging Under Uncertainty: An Institutional Theory of Legal Interpretation
Judging Under Uncertainty: An Institutional Theory of Legal Interpretation
by Adrian Vermeule
List Price: $55.00
Hardcover: 346 pages
Publisher: Harvard University Press (May 15, 2006)
Book Description: How should judges, in America and elsewhere, interpret statutes and the Constitution? Previous work on these fundamental questions has typically started from abstract views about the nature of democracy or constitutionalism, or the nature of legal language, or the essence of the rule of law. From these conceptual premises, theorists typically deduce an ambitious role for judges, particularly in striking down statutes on constitutional grounds. In this book, Adrian Vermeule breaks new ground by rejecting both the conceptual approach and the judge-centered conclusions of older theorists. Vermeule shows that any approach to legal interpretation rests on institutional and empirical premises about the capacities of judges and the systemic effects of their rulings. Drawing upon a range of social science tools from political science, economics, decision theory, and other disciplines, he argues that legal interpretation is above all an exercise in decisionmaking under severe empirical uncertainty. In view of their limited information and competence, judges should adopt a restrictive, unambitious set of tools for interpreting statutory and constitutional provisions, deferring to administrative agencies where statutes are unclear and deferring to legislatures where constitutional language is unclear or states general aspirations.
New Book Debunks Techno-hype
Future Hype: The Myths of Technology Change
by Bob Seidensticker
List Price: $15.95 (paperback)
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers (2006)
Book Description: Author Bob Seidensticker asserts that today's achievements are not unprecedented. He explodes nine major myths of technology, including "Change is exponential," "Products are adopted faster," and "The Internet changes everything," and he argues that we can't control technology change unless we know how it changes. Examining the history of tech hype, Seidensticker uncovers the inaccuracies and misinterpretations that characterize the popular view of technology, explaining how and why this view has been created, and showing how technology change actually works. He concludes with "hype vaccine," specific strategies to become a shrewder technology adopter.
Commentary: Basically Bob Seidensticker is asking you to imagine yourself living in the woods for a week without any IT to see if you miss your gadgets. Well of course not if you imagine a black bear eying you as a snack. At that moment I would want some old school technology, 50 caliber or higher please.
However, is this the right scenario to field test techno-hype? Sure there is empty bravura about technology and its unpredictable and often unintentional effects. Hype is hype and the consequences of technology are the stuff for the social sciences. The more appropriate question is how would your react if some but not all of the gadgets you depend on disappear. Technology has very relative personal valuations. If my iPod or my PC or my laptop dies, I won't lose any sleep but I get very twitchy when my connection to the Internet at breaks down. [JH]
First Extensive Legal Treatment of Puffery
Temple Law Prof David A. Hoffman has distributed The Best Puffery Article Ever via SSRN. Here's the abstract:
This article provides the first extensive legal treatment of an important defense in the law of fraud and contracts: puffery. Legal authorities commonly say they make decisions about whether defendants should be able to utter exaggerated, optimistic, lies based on assumptions about buyer behavior, concluding that consumers do not rely on such speech. However, as the Article shows, such analyses are proxies for a deeper analytical question: does the speech encourage or discourage a type of consumption activity that the court deems welfare maximizing?
The Article presents a novel constitutional analysis of puffery doctrine that focuses on the meaning of misleading speech, a term of art at the heart of the Supreme Court's contested and still evolving commercial speech jurisprudence. Missing from that jurisprudence is a satisfactory account of how consumers and investors react to speech that is not literally false but which has false implications. I present such an account, focused on the incentives and capabilities of sellers to exploit buyers' cognitive vulnerabilities. I draw on economic, marketing, psychology and consumption literatures.
I conclude by offering a novel liability proposal. Because legal authorities are incapable of satisfactorily drawing a line between harmful and innocuous puffery, the law should make sellers presumptively liable if their speech contains exaggerated, but vague boasts. This approach would place the onus on sellers to balance the costs and benefits of puffery, and thus lead both to more satisfying doctrine and a more optimal level of fraud.
Opening: Collection Development Library (new position) Oregon
Law Collections Librarian (new position)
John E. Jaqua Law Library
University of Oregon Libraries
Duties: Engages in strategic planning for the legal collection; updates the collection development policy; coordinates selection activities of subject specialists; evaluates and acquires electronic resources; coordinates input of aggregator titles into integrated library system (Innovative Interfaces); works on digitization of rare and local legal materials; manages law collections budget; determines policies and systems used in acquisitions; oversees ordering, receipt, and payment for law library materials; supervises 1.0 FTE classified employee and student employees.
Required: ALA-accredited MLIS degree; minimum of three years of related collection development experience; experience working with electronic resources; experience working with integrated library system; strong organizational skills; excellent oral and written communication skills; strong service orientation; ability to work independently and collaboratively with staff at all levels and with people of diverse backgrounds; demonstrated initiative; excellent problem solving skills; ability to successfully train and motivate staff in collegial and cooperative work environment.
Preferred: Knowledge of legal materials and current developments in legal publishing, education, and research; budgetary experience; supervisory experience; experience with electronic resource management software; demonstrated use of educational technology tools; and developed expertise in web technologies.
Salary: $36,000 minimum, increasing depending on education and experience. Oregon's benefits package totals 48% of salary on average, and currently pays 100% of healthcare and retirement costs.
Application Deadline: August 23, 2006.
To Apply: Send Word or pdf attachments via e-mail and include the following: cover letter, resume, and list of four references with names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses (one of whom must be indicated as your current or most recent supervisor) to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For complete announcement and further application details, see: http://libweb.uoregon.edu/admnpers/Jobs/academic/lawcoll.html
The University of Oregon is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employment/ADA-compliant institution committed to cultural diversity.
July 26, 2006
Helane Davis Appointed Director at U Kentucky Law
Kudos to Helane Davis who has been appointed Law Library Director and Assistant Professor of Law at the Alvin E. Evans Law Library, University of Kentucky College of Law, the largest academic law library in the state. Previously, she was Associate Director and Head of Public Services, and Interim Director of the Library. If memory serves, Helane also served in similar positions at Howard and Seattle before moving to Kentucky. [JH]
Check This Out Hosts AALL Centennial Variety Show Podcast
The AALL Centennial Variety Show podcast is hosted on Jim Milles' Check This Out. So check it out! [JH]
Recent Publications on Network Neutrality
- Richard N. Clark, Costs of Neutral/Unmanaged IP Networks
- Tim Wu, Network Neutrality: Competition, Innovation, and Nondiscriminatory Access
- Bill Herman, Opening Bottlenecks: On Behalf of Mandated Network Neutrality
- Barbara Van Schewick, Towards an Economic Framework for Network Neutrality Regulation
- Christopher S. Yoo, Network Neutrality and the Economics of Congestion
Richard N. Clark, Costs of Neutral/Unmanaged IP Networks (AT&T) (May 2006)
Abstract: This paper examines the cost of an unmanaged network and demonstrates that as Internet usage patterns evolve and become both more bandwidth-intensive and real-time oriented, a model of pure neutrality would be extremely expensive for the typical consumer. Right now, the Internet activities of most residential consumers center around e-mail, web browsing and modest file downloads. Thus, the shared elements of current IP networks are scaled to accommodate the aggregate of this moderate use. Other applications, such as real-time, television-quality video services and business services typically have been delivered over managed networks.
However, usage is beginning to explode. As high bandwidth, real-time services such as streaming music and video proliferate on the Internet, existing IP network capacity is being exhausted and large upgrades to the local access, regional and core backbone portions of the Internet are required. The extent of these required upgrades depends on the degree of management network operators are allowed to exercise. If a completely unmanaged/neutral network is required, the required upgrade investments appear to be massive. Indeed, to provide sufficient network capacity to accommodate expected growth in traditional Internet data services as well as use of Internet connections for bandwidth-intensive applications equivalent to just two simultaneous SDTV channels per home, customers may need to pay roughly $140 per month for their Internet service only - before they additionally pay for the video content itself. But if customer data use or viewing habits become more intense - say, the equivalent of viewing two simultaneous HDTV channels, Internet service bills may reach $466 per month.
It seems unlikely that enough customers would be willing to pay the fees (between $140 and $466 per month) that fully unmanaged IP networks would require. Such fees are so high as to make such networks commercially nonviable.
Tim Wu, Network Neutrality: Competition, Innovation, and Nondiscriminatory Access (Coumbia Law School)(April 24, 2006)
Abstract: The best proposals for network neutrality rules are simple. They ban abusive behavior like tollboothing and outright blocking and degradation. And they leave open legitimate network services that the Bells and Cable operators want to provide, such as offering cable television services and voice services along with a neutral internet offering. They are in line with a tradition of protecting consumer’s rights on networks whose instinct is just this: let customers use the network as they please. No one wants to deny companies the right to charge for their services and charge consumers more if they use more. But what does need to be stopped is raw discrimination that is nothing more than a tax on innovation taken by government-supported corporations.
Bill Herman, Opening Bottlenecks: On Behalf of Mandated Network Neutrality (Penn)(59 Federal Communications LJ ___ (2007)
Abstract: This paper calls for mandated “network neutrality,” the principle that broadband service providers (BSPs) should generally treat all nondestructive data equally. Without such a mandate, BSPs will likely begin charging content providers for the right to send data at the fastest speeds available. The present frequency with which BSPs block some data entirely will also likely increase.
Neutral networks are preferable for two key reasons. First, they spawn innovation, as illustrated by the explosive online innovation to date. Second, neutral networks better distribute communication power, promoting First Amendment values. Extant and likely future acts of discrimination erode both goals. The danger is real in the highly concentrated broadband market; BSPs have the incentives and means to engage in a high degree of broadband discrimination.
This paper further demonstrates that ad hoc regulation is ineffective in dissuading even grossly anticompetitive network discrimination. Further, network congestion can be and is managed adequately without resorting to discrimination. Finally, it rejects Christopher Yoo’s call for multiple special-purpose networks as both unrealistic and undesirable.
Barbara Van Schewick, Towards an Economic Framework for Network Neutrality Regulation (Technical University of Berlin; Center for Internet and Society, Stanford Law School) (5 Journal on Telecommunications and High Technology Law ___ (2007))
Abstract: The paper develops an economic framework for network neutrality regulation. Network neutrality rules forbid network operators to discriminate against third-party applications, content or portals or to exclude them from their network.
The analysis shows that calls for network neutrality regulation are justified: In the absence of network neutrality regulation, there is a real threat that network providers will discriminate against independent producers of applications, content or portals or exclude them from their network. This threat reduces the amount of innovation in the markets for applications, content and portals at significant costs to society.
While network neutrality rules remove this threat, they are not without costs. Due to the potentially enormous benefits of application-level innovation for economic growth, however, increasing the amount of application-level innovation through network neutrality regulation is more important than the costs associated with it.
Apart from advancing the debate over network neutrality, the paper highlights important limitations of the 'one monopoly rent' argument: It shows that there are more exceptions to the 'one monopoly rent' argument than have previously been identified and that these new exceptions may be quite common in the Internet context. It shows that exclusion may be a profitable strategy, even if the excluding actor does not manage to drive its competitors from the complementary market. It also shows that competition in the primary market may not always be sufficient to remove the ability and incentive to engage in exclusionary conduct.
Christopher S. Yoo, Network Neutrality and the Economics of Congestion (Vanderbilt)(94 Georgetown LJ ___ (2006))
Abstract: The Supreme Court's recent Brand X decision has reignited the debate over broadband networks' ability to restrict end users' ability to access content, run applications, and attach devices. In this Article, Professor Christopher Yoo draws on the economics of congestion to propose a new analytical framework for evaluating such restrictions. He concludes that when transaction costs make usage-based pricing prohibitively expensive, imposing restrictions on bandwidth-intensive activities may well enhance economic welfare by preventing high-volume users from imposing uncompensated costs on low-volume users. Usage of bandwidth-intensive services can thus serve as a useful proxy for congestion externalities just as port usage served as a proxy for consumption of lighthouse services in Coase's classic critique of the economic parable of the lighthouse. The case against network neutrality also draws on other economic considerations. Claims that network neutrality is needed to foster innovation are misplaced in the context of the Internet. Furthermore, allowing network owners to differentiate their services can mitigate the sources of market failure that require regulatory intervention in the first place. Finally, the classic telecommunications precedents invoked by network neutrality proponents were adopted during an era in which local telephone companies represented the only available means of transmission and in which the traffic consisted solely of person-to-person communications. Concerns that telephone companies may prevent end users from using their DSL connections to access VoIP at most justify targeted regulatory intervention. They do not justify a blanket prohibition of restrictions on end users' ability to access content, run applications, or attach devices.
Legal Trivia Question of the Day
Hat tip to PropertyProf Blog's Alfred Brophy for calling attention to this legal trivia question:
What modern day actress is related to 19th century legal scholar, Theordor Sedgwick, author of A Treatise on Constitutional and Statutory Interpretation?
Why Kyra Sedgwick of course.
I wonder if she could answer the question correctly? [JH]
Colorado Univ Law School Launches Global Energy Treaties Database
Excerpted from the press release:
The Energy and Environmental Security Initiative at the University of Colorado at Boulder School of Law has unveiled an online global database of international energy treaties called the International Sustainable Energy Assessment. The database contains in-force energy treaties from all 192 countries in the world dealing with 45 energy-related subject areas.
At present, there are two versions: an internal, password-restricted version that contains all 1,700 agreements -- of which the United States is party to approximately 1,100 -- and a free public version located at lawweb.colorado.edu/eesi/ that contains about 500 agreements. The goal is to have all 1,700 agreements available on the public site in the next six months.
Call for Presentations at Fall 2006 Federal Depository Library Conference
The 2006 Depository Library Conference Committee invites the Federal Depository Library community to submit proposals for the 15th annual Federal Depository Library Conference this fall. The Conference committee invites proposals from introductory to advanced level on topics related to Federal information librarianship and information dissemination, including but not limited to:
- Web Discovery and Harvesting
- Virtual Depository Library Collection
- Best Practices for Stand-Alone or Integrated Depository Library Collections
for Collection Development, Public Services, and Staff Development
- Inventive Marketing and Other Promotional Strategies to Maximize Your
Library's Participation in the FDLP.
- Nuts and Bolts of Daily Library Operations
To submit a previous proposal or a new one, please fill out the Web form at:
Please send your proposal before August 31, 2006. Those accepted will be notified by September 15, 2006. Questions? Please contact Marian MacGilvray at email@example.com