Saturday, September 25, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Media coverage of the role of interest groups and political parties in judicial elections has the potential to shape citizens’ attitudes toward the judiciary. By framing the participation of groups in certain ways, the media can influence the way that citizens perceive a problem such as unlimited third party spending and alter their final evaluation of the issues. This paper examines the media frames that are used to explain the participation of groups in judicial elections, and how the groups might have contributed to the development of the media’s frames. An exploratory factor analysis indicated that the elements clustered into four frames: buying justice, polluting elections, politization, and loopholes. Overall, groups were portrayed as having a negative impact on judicial elections and the judiciary. Even if groups were not directly influencing the decision-making of justices, the media’s frames were adding to the perception that justice is for sale.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
More than three dozen states around the world take part in censoring what their citizens can see and do on the Internet. This practice is increasingly widespread, with extensive filtering regimes in place in China, Iran, Burma (Myanmar), Syria, and Uzbekistan. Censorship using technological filters is often coupled with restrictive laws related to what the press can publish, opaque surveillance practices, and severe penalties for people who break the state’s rules of using the Internet. This trend has been emerging since at least 2002.
As Internet use overall and the practice of online censorship grow, heads of state and their representatives have been gathering to discuss the broad topic of “Internet governance” at a series of high-profile, global meetings. These meetings have taken the form of periodic World Summits on the Information Society and, more recently, meetings of the Internet Governance Forum. The widespread practice of blocking citizens from accessing certain information on the Internet from within a given state offers a point of engagement for the Internet governance debate that takes place at these summits and forums. Those who have participated in and lead these global efforts - k Force, the members of the United Nations’ Working Group on Internet Governance, the Internet Governance Forum’s leaders - have by and large avoided this matter of Internet filtering. These influential meetings could profitably be focused on this issue in order, at a minimum, to establish a set of principles and best practices related to Internet filtering.
The reason that the Internet filtering issue is not at the top of the agenda for these global discussions may seem obvious. On a superficial level, this topic is an unattractive candidate for the Internet governance decision-makers to take up. Diplomatic niceties make hard conversations about divisive issues unpleasant. A serious discussion of Internet filtering would dredge up thorny topics like free expression, privacy, national security, international enforcement, and state sovereignty - issues on which states are likely to disagree vehemently.
But in so doing, the Internet governance debate might take on new life and importance. It might, in the process, engage more stakeholders in the conversation in meaningful ways. It could focus discussion on the core problems related to the divergence of views among states as to what a “good” Internet looks like. It would put in relief the jurisdictional issues related to every country in the world sharing a single, unitary, public network of networks, far more powerful than any such network that has come before, with the power to bring people together and to divide them - while also acknowledging the fact that states can and do exert power over what their citizens do on this network. It could help situate local conversations about issues like Network Neutrality into a global context. It would prompt an examination of whether any single set of rules might serve to address concerns related to content on the Internet. And, in the process, it would encourage states to come clean about the lengths they are willing to go to block their citizens from accessing information online. At best, such a discussion would bring the issue of state-based Internet censorship into the spotlight and might, in the process, lead some states to reform their Internet filtering practices so as to become more open and transparent.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.
Content owners claim they are doomed, because in the digital environment, they can't compete with free. But they've made such claims before. This short essay traces the history of content owner claims that new technologies will destroy their business over the last two centuries. None have come to pass. It is likely the sky isn't falling this time either. I suggest some ways content may continue to thrive in the digital environment.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
As the movie makes abundantly clear, the facts behind its founding are in dispute but, without a doubt, Zuckerberg did create Facebook. Yet far from celebrating this feat, the movie examines how a man who cares little about money became the world's youngest billionaire yet lost his one true friend.
At least that's what the movie says happened. The film, written by Aaron Sorkin, is based on Ben Mezrich's book "The Accidental Billionaires" and Sorkin's own research yet neither writer, predictably, was able to talk to Zuckerberg to get his point of view. So it is as a fictional construct -- based on ample public sources, however -- that "Mark Zuckerberg" achieves its Shakespearean dimension. He gains the whole world but loses his most meaningful asset because of a fatal flaw on view in the very first scene.
Monday, September 20, 2010
The Supreme Court's recent 8-1 decision in United States v. Stevens only served to reiterate the Court's concern with overbreadth in First Amendment challenges to statutes. Concluding that the statute in question prohibited a good deal of speech that was unrelated to the statute's legitimate target, the Court held that the statute was substantially overbroad and therefore invalid.
Stevens as well as earlier First Amendment decisions shed considerable light on the problems of overbreadth and vagueness in copyright law, particularly the derivative works right. The copyright holder’s derivative works right prohibits others from making any work “based upon a copyrighted work” that “modifies, transforms, or adapts” the copyrighted work in any way. Because all new expression must necessarily borrow from existing expression to some degree, the derivative works right sweeps a good deal of speech within its prohibition, much of which is either harmless to the copyright holder or else outside the legitimate boundaries of copyright protection. While the fair use doctrine purports to protect some of this new expression, fair use is vague and unpredictable in application, particularly when it intersects with the derivative works right. Further, the doctrine can be asserted only after a speaker has risked an infringement claim.
This Article compares the Copyright Act and the way courts have applied it to a variety of other provisions that limit speech and that have been struck down or construed narrowly on overbreadth grounds. It demonstrates considerable overbreadth and vagueness in the scope of copyright protection, arguing for narrowing rules of construction that will mitigate these First Amendment concerns.
Sunday, September 19, 2010