August 23, 2010
Short Takes On The News
- If someone lives in Philadelphia and blogs, and collects even a tiny amount of income from that activity, then that person could expect a tax bill from the city for $300. It represents the cost of a business privilege license. Apparently any activity that generates even a tiny amount of money is subject to the license fee. The Philadelphia City Paper tells the story or Marilyn Bess, who operates a low traffic blog that generates about $50 in ad revenue. She received one of the bills, which was not a mistake after she investigated it. It's sad that even in rough economic times that a city such as Philadelphia would stoop to these tactics. I wonder how Ben Franklin would respond? Hat Tip to Andrew Sullivan's blog for the tip.
- Speaking of bloggers, there are a few stories popping up on rules being applied to new media in the area of online libel. The Guardiannotes a lawsuit filed in New York about model Carla Franklin suing Google to find out the name of the person who posted to YouTube and called her a "whore." The Los Angeles Timeshas a story that highlights the growing number of lawsuits from around the country where plaintiffs are attempting to unmask anonymous individuals who had posted allegedly libelous comments online. Remember kids, the First Amendment doesn't protect defamation. Google and the others will hide your real name until a valid court order says otherwise. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a FAQon online defamation law.
- Fordham University won a court victory last week over its attempts to expand its Lincoln Center campus. A private condominium board for property located near the campus sued claiming New York City violated the original covenants granting the campus land to the University. Those covenants limited the height of buildings to 20 stories or 200 feet. The city changed the terms over the years, negating a challenge to the original terms of the grant. Fordham plans a new law school as part of the expansion. The original story is in the Wall Street Journal.
- Google is testing instant search results. As someone types a query, the results below change dynamically as the terms change. This can be really great or really annoying, depending on the implementation of the concept, if it's even implemented at all. eWeekhas the story, with links to a video of the test hosted at TechCrunch..
- And finally, a tiptoe into the immigration debate, though in the context of academic research. Inside Higher Ed is reporting on a suit filed by Arizona state superintendent of education against the University of Arizona and Arizona State University. He wants to enforce subpoenas seeking the names of teachers, schools, and school districts studied by researchers in evaluating Arizona's policies for schoolchildren learning English. Arizona separate children from other studies to focus exclusively on learning English. The Court ruled that the names cannot be disclosed, but the names of schools and districts can be disclosed. The studies are part of an expert witness report on a suit against the policies. The story is here. [MG]