Author Archives: Michael Froomkin

Am I the Only Person Perturbed by This?

Disturbing UM Sports news:

UM coach Mark Richt surprised his team with an unexpected gift in a meeting this week.

Richt gave every player a Bible, and the coach personalized it by putting the player’s name on the cover of the copy that player received.

Receiver Braxton Berrios said Richt told the players that reading it is “optional.”

“This speaks volumes to the type of coach we have,” Berrios said.

Faith is a big part of Richt’s life.

Asked in July how much he has used faith to create unity in the team, Richt said: “Yeah, well, everybody has a belief system. Everybody looks at life through a certain filter. I happen to be a Christian. That’s just what I am. I’m not using it. I think we need to be true to who we are, what we believe.

“I’m not trying to make anybody believe anything I believe. I just want to do things in a way that I think God would be pleased with me. That’s my goal on a daily basis.

“In doing that, I know if I do that, I’m blessing the players I’m in charge of. We’ll be doing things right in recruiting. We’ll be working our tails off.

“So I don’t think much about it. I’m not trying to use anything. I’m just trying to be who I am.”

(via the Miami Hearld)

The University of Miami is a secular institution.  But the coercive aspect of this is obvious, and improper, whatever disclaimers accompany it.

Some students were vocal in their appreciation; where does that leave the others?

If I gave out religious tracts  (that had nothing to do with the course) as optional reading in my class, I would be justly criticized. How is this different? I think UM President Julio Frenk ought to say something about this, but I am not holding my breath.  Especially given we beat Georgia State …

Posted in U.Miami | Leave a comment

Lousy Ad

I don’t know who this Democratic Coalition Against Trump is.  I like their URL.  But I don’t at all care for this web ad they’ve done — it strikes me as utterly ineffective.  The issue of Trump being in the tank for Putin — or just a dupe — is a serious one.  This doesn’t help.

Posted in Politics: International, Trumpalooza | Leave a comment

Why the Attempt to Enjoin the IANA Transfer is Baseless

The Attorney Generals of four right-wing states sued today to block the transfer of the US’s control over IANA to ICANN.  Here’s a link to the plaintiffs’ complaint and request for declaratory and injunctive relief.

And here’s my very quick take on the lawsuit: The APA claim is bogus.  I think they lack standing for the property claim. The property claim is also meritless, as the government is not giving away any property it “owns”.  The US is letting go of a contractual right to veto alterations to the data in a computer file (the root zone file) held on a privately owned machine.  There is no intellectual property right because the contents of the file are in the public domain, and US law would not recognize this as a compilation copyright.  What’s at issue in the IANA transfer is the loss of the US government’s right to veto authoritative changes to the file, not to own the contents.

In any case, the proposed transfer doesn’t harm the defendants in any way now, and their complaint fails to say that it does.  Plaintiffs only give extremely speculative allegations of possible future damage. Indeed, the most they can come up with in para 22 of their complaint is that “Plaintiffs will lose the predictability, certainty, and protections that currently flow from federal stewardship of the Internet and instead be subjected to ICANNs unchecked control.”  While I am more sympathetic than most about the dangers of being subject to ICANN’s unchecked control, the fact remains that in the absence of any clear threat by ICANN do something that would harm the plaintiffs in some way this is far too speculative a harm to be recognized by a US judicial system that is allergic to speculative harm. The same argument applies to the claim that ICANN might – no sign at all it will – increase fees to GSA for .gov, which might – no clear sign it would – be passed on as a cost to the plaintiffs. (para 29).

More generally, the complaint takes a surprisingly collectivist view of private property given that it was filed by some of the more right-wing state officials in the land.  My computer is not a public forum.  Yet, by claiming that “the internet” has been “established” by the US as a public forum, the plaintiffs seem to want to (in effect) nationalize every computer on the Internet, or at least all the US ones. See for example paras 32 and 35-36 of the complaint which refer to the private use of private computers, but try to turn the computers and the uses into something that requires licenses or which government could control.

Count 3 is bogus because the Commerce Department’s act isn’t a rule in either form or substance.  It might arguably be an adjudication – I wrote an article arguing that other related actions should be seen as adjudications (but the courts didn’t bite).  NTIA has always taken the view that changes to the IANA relationship are just contract negotiation, like buying paperclips, and those don’t require notice and comment and are not adjudications either; instead it’s just purchasing (I thought the $0 cost of the purchase orders was odd, but that failed to convince enough people.) In any case, not renewing the contract is even less an action than altering it.

Count 4 – the claim that the government is lacking statutory authorization for its actions – is a little more interesting.  It has two problems, however: first, the plaintiffs lack the standing to bring it.  Second, if it is correct, it likely proves too much, for if getting rid of the Root Zone File was lacking authority, so too was maintaining it.  So were this to go forward, the result would be to say the government couldn’t do any of the things it has done in the ICANN/IANA space … which is exactly the result that the plaintiffs are suing to prevent.

Count 5, the tortious interference with contractual relations claim, founders on the absence of any non-speculative damages.  US tort law requires you have damages to prevail on a tort claim.

In the long run, this claim cannot succeed.  Whether the parties might be able to scare a judge into throwing a spanner in the works while he or she figures things out, I don’t know, but even if they do I just don’t see any way for this lawsuit to prevail in the long run.

Posted in ICANN, Internet, Law: Internet Law | 1 Comment

This Is Silly

…but it’s also fun: The Hillary Shimmy Song:

by Jonathan Mann.

Posted in Completely Different, Trumpalooza | Leave a comment

John Oliver Explains the Clinton e-Mail ‘Scandal’

…and as a bonus explains the Clinton Foundation controversy too.

This will undoubtedly enrage certain people.

Posted in 2016 Election, Law: Ethics | 2 Comments

Baked

The jokes this year have been on us. Here’s the first actually funny joke I’ve spotted about the 2016 campaign:

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump go into a bakery. As soon as they enter the bakery, Trump steals three pastries and puts them in his pocket. He says to Hillary, “See how clever I am? The owner didn’t see anything and I don’t even need to lie. I will definitely win the election.” Hillary says to Donald, “That’s the typical dishonesty you have displayed throughout your entire life, trickery and deceit. I am going to show you an honest way to get the same 3 pastries without stealing or lying, and also prove that I’m much more clever than you! Hillary goes to the owner of the bakery and says, “Give me a pastry and I will show you a magic trick.” Intrigued, the owner accepts Hillary’s offer and gives her a pastry Hillary swallows it and asks for another one. The owner gives her another one. Then Hillary asks for a third pastry and eats that, too. By this time, the owner is starting to wonder where the magic trick is and asks, “What did you do with the pastries?” Hillary replies, “Look in Donald’s pocket”!

I don’t care if it’s a rerun of an older joke (it sounds like one), it was new to me.

Spotted, in all places, in the comments section to Gizmodo, Conspiracy Theorists Are Very Concerned About Hillary’s Mic Pack.

Got any good jokes about this election? We could sure use them.

Posted in 2016 Election, Completely Different | Leave a comment

Save the Day

The PAC has a video:

Warning: contains swearing, discussions of nudity, and lots of meta-snark.

Posted in 2016 Election | Leave a comment