Monthly Archives: December 2004

Is Class Bloggable? How About Private Chats?

Yale Law Student Will Baud puts the cat among the pigeons: should (can) professors limit what students say about them in blogs? FWIW, my view is that class is bloggable, but that it's bad taste to blog any private conversation, whether with a professor or anyone else, without that person's consent. Smart students will, however, consider that people, yes even professors, may figure out who they are, and modulate their remarks as they would in any other signed communication. Plus, once you post something, it's pretty much up there for ever.

I certainly feel very constrained, maybe the word is “shy”, about posting much personal stuff here. Pretty much anything that mentions my family I clear with my spouse.

Posted in Blogs | 4 Comments

Leading UK Lawyer Won’t Take Part in Detention Cases

The Guardian reports that Ian MacDonald QC, one a relatively small number of British barristers allowed to represent suspected terror suspects before the UK Special Immigration Appeals Commission , has announced he will not longer take those cases following the House of Lords ruling that the detentions are illegal. The Guardian speculates that many, perhaps all, of the other barristers with similar status will follow suit, putting a real spanner in the works. Once again, the British lawyers are ahead of us.

Posted in UK | 3 Comments

More on “Not Just a Good Defense”

Based on some of the comments elsewhere I guess I was too terse in my earlier post on the battle between free speech via technology and the counter-urge to monitor it (a technique which may not be designed to censor but enables censorship). [Good Defense Is Not A Victory. It Just Means You Haven't Lost Yet.]I agree there have been some good (lower) court decisions in the US, although I remain very nervous about what the Supreme Court will do to them. The problem is, though, that I don't think that the courts are the major battlefield here. The significant facts, to me, are in the legislature and the executive.

Perhaps the biggest worry is that the fix is in to try to do a CALEA to VOIP: just as they did with old fashioned phones, so now the governments of the world intend to require the service provides to build in the ability to wiretap large numbers of simultaneous internet-based phone conversations. Of necessity, that technology will also work for all other internet-based methods of communication. That’s major. (The cybercrime convention is just a warm-up exercise.)

A secondary issue is the move towards tightening screws on Internet access – more countries are showing an interest following Pakistan and China’s lead in requiring internet cafes and other kiosks to record who uses the service and when so that if something is traced back to that place and time the user can be identified. These are in effect speech licenses.

And, there’s stuff to worry about in the para-copyright realm. We can deal with copyright (trademark, other than famous mark rights expansion, and patent, other than process patents, I generally support more or less as applied). DMCA itself continues to throw an ugly shadow. And I am also concerned about intellectual property style protections for data compilations (databases).

Posted in Law: Copyright and DMCA | 2 Comments

I Should Start Selling Virtual Swampland

The BBC reports

A 22-year-old gamer has spent $26,500 (£13,700) on an island that exists only in a computer role-playing game (RPG). The Australian gamer, known only by his gaming moniker Deathifier, bought the island in an online auction. The land exists within the game Project Entropia, an RPG which allows thousands of players to interact with each other.

Eighty years ago when people sold land in Florida that didn't exist, we put them in jail. Now we give them venture capital. This is progress!

(Kidding aside, it is either lunacy or a graphic demonstration that Dan Hunter is right about the coming value of virtual property.)

Posted in Virtual Worlds | 5 Comments

How to Do Sarcasm

First Draft takes this quote from Tom Ridge:

Outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Tuesday that the government should reconsider how it warns people about security threats, saying that its color-coded scale has invited “questions and even occasional derision.”

And destroys it .

Posted in National Security | Leave a comment

The Ultimate in Bad Taste

This, to me, is about the weirdest thing I ever read in the newspaper. Well, after invading Iraq with too few troops because someone else, living elsewhere, attacked the World Trade Center. Or that the US is systematically torturing people, and elite lawyers are writing opinions justifying it or working out strategies to allow the torturers to avoid prosecution.

In Death, Loved Ones Can Live On As Diamonds: When William Lucas' mother died nearly two years ago, he found an unusual way to keep her memory close at hand.

The general contractor from Kitty Hawk, N.C., had some of ''Momma Luke's'' ashes converted into three synthetic blue diamonds, each about a third of a carat. One is set into his wedding band.

Posted in Kultcha | 3 Comments