September 25, 2010
Courage Under FireFrom the New York Times, the BBC, and NPR, coverage in this country of a Mexican newspaper's address to the drug cartels:¿Que quieren de nosotros? What do you want from us? after killers cut down two of its reporters, both in their early twenties. One survived and is still in the hospital. Here's the original of El Diario's editorial, reprinted throughout Mexico, and now, the world. As Los Angeles Times bloggers point out, Mexico's media is frustrated at the lack of ability the country's authorities have shown to deal with the drug trade and its violence.
September 24, 2010
The Colbert Reports To CongressStephen Colbert brought his own brand of inspired nuttiness to Capital Hill yesterday to testify before the House Judiciary Subcommittee Immigration and Farm Labor. Between the yucks, he had a message: unemployed Americans should be more interested in jobs in the agriculture sector.
The Media's Presentation of Interested Parties in Judicial Elections
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.
One Silly TweetA British man sends an ill-advised message via Twitter, and suffers consequences. Should he lose two jobs and be found guilty of a crime? Helen A.S. Popkin discusses the issue here. More here from "Jack of Kent" (UK lawyer David Allen Green).
September 23, 2010
Where Is a Newspaper "Printed and Published?"Anita Ramasastry on a New Jersey court's interpretation of a statute defining where a newspaper is "printed and published" in the state. The case is Courier-Post v. County of Camden.
Lawsuit-a-What?Lindsay Lohan has abandoned her "Milkawhat?" lawsuit against ETrade, the financial trading firm, which stars babies talking about investments. A commercial first aired during this year's Super Bowl features a girl baby cross-examining her male boyfriend about a third party "Milkaholic" Lindsay who might have enticed him away. Ms. Lohan sued, alleging that the reference was to her. See here for more about the filing of the lawsuit and a link to the commercial.
September 22, 2010
Jean-Luc Godard and the Case of the Internet PirateFamed filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard is trying to assist photographer and Internet pirate James Climent, who owes 20,000 Euros for violating copyright laws. Mr. Godard wants to help Mr. Climent take his case to the European Court of Human Rights, where Mr. Climent hopes to overturn his conviction. Mr. Godard said in a recent interview, "Copyright (sic) really isn’t feasible...An author has no rights. I have no rights. I have only duties." ("Le droit d’auteur, vraiment c’est pas possible. Un auteur n’a aucun droit. Je n’ai aucun droit. Je n’ai que des devoirs.") More here from the New York Times.
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 Owner Claims Over Time: The Chicken Little Angle
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.
Czech Republic's Privacy Protection Agency Says "No" To Street View ProgramGoogle, which faces lawsuits over its "Street View" program in a number of countries, is now encountering a setback in the Czech Republic. The Czech government's Office for Personal Data Protection has told the company it cannot register the program there, according to this story from MSNBC.com. Permission might be forthcoming later, however.
September 21, 2010
"The Social Network": Shakespearian Commentary On Social Media?
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.
Is Greed Still Good?Oliver Stone's back in the boardroom. More here from MSNBC.com.
Twitter.com HackedMSNBC.com reports that someone hacked Twitter early today, sending users willy-nilly to third party sites. Twitter now assures users that it has fixed the problem.
September 20, 2010
The Derivative Works Right
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.