Sunday, April 18, 2010

Samuel Warren and Louis Brandeis, "The Right to Privacy," goes digital, with my Foreword

Posted by Alan Childress

Admittedly 120 years too late, and not exactly on-topic to the blog, but Warren and Brandeis have now Samuel D Warren wedding published their landmark article on the iPad!  Or any PC, or Kindle, iPhone, iTouch, BlackBerry, or Mac.  They do not do Droid. 

I wanted to post a link to the Amazon DTP version of The Right to Privacy and my Foreword and other materials in the compilation (including active TOC, linked notes, and period photos and press clips provided to me, graciously,
by Amy Gajda, who did extensive research up on SSRN on the infamous backstory). Sorry to charge for the ebook, but that is Amazon rules for non-bigtime-publishers (and I must make it a buck more on July 1). You can get my own contribution part of it free anyway, below.

Any free Amazon app for those devices, even just on the PC or a laptop, will work great to read this and their ebooks (which do include 20,000 free classics), or on Kindle. I will try to post some more old pics later this week...

From the blurb:

The most influential piece of legal scholarship in history, many scholars say, is this 1890 Harvard Law Review article by two Boston lawyers (one of whom later became a legendary Supreme Court Justice).  Warren and Brandeis created -- by cleverly weaving strands of precedent, policy, and logic --  the legal concept of privacy, and the power of legal protection for that right.  Their clear and effective prose stands the test of time, and influenced such modern notions as "inviolate personality," the law's "elasticity," and the problems of "piracy."  They resisted the label of "judicial legislation" for their proposals.  And they foresaw the threat of new technology. 

Most of all, they asserted the fundamental "right to be let alone," and its implications to modern law are profound.  Their privacy concept has grown into a constitutional law norm raising issues about abortion, drug testing, surveillance, sexual orientation, free speech, the "right to die," and medical confidentiality.  All these spinoffs trace their origins to this master work.  It is simply one of the most significant parts of the modern canon of law, politics, and sociology.

The Foreword shares not only this import and effect, but also the fascinating backstory behind the article.  Its origins are found in Warren's own prickly experiences with the press, famously after its reports on his family weddings.  One myth was recently debunked by Gajda:  it could not have been his daughter's wedding that upset him.  The newer legend is explained, including the role of The Washington Post and the emerging paparazzi.  This was no mere academic exercise to Warren and Brandeis, it turns out.  The Foreword adds a biographical summary of each author,  noting some less-known questions about Brandeis's own judicial ethics later in life (debunking another myth), as well as noting the possible tension between the privacy right and the First Amendment that Brandeis championed.

If readers here want to do a similar compilation, formatting, and Foreword to classic legal scholarship in pre-1923 U.S. books, for digital readers, ask [email protected] You must be willing to write original work or annotations, and work from source materials not just scanned crap.  The goal is high quality ebooks, not the formatting nightmares that are out there now (even the online versions of The Right to Privacy are all full of substantive errors, including one on a Harvard site!)

[You can also, without needing an app, Download Foreword TRTP2]

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