Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The End of Copyright?

I need to preface this post with a note that the title article comes from a video game centric blog. Parts of this post will respond directly to that article but will also scope over a broader range of the concept. I also apologize for a long post.

I don't agree with this article simply because it falls a little far down the slippery slope. Looking at this in a vacuum without any pragmatic background, the author makes an interestingly abstract point. The advent of new technology does, on some level, diminish individual property rights in intellectual property. Weakened rights stem from the diminished control of intellectual property once its left the producer hands. Digital music is a good example. Consumption of digital music exploded with the birth of internet giants like Napster, and the "owner's" of digital material were unable to control the profit scheme for mass market consumption. Recently, a new approach to digital content has sprung up around this digital debacle. Sony's rootkit mess is a good example. On a tangential note, controlling use in the digital age is futile due to the ability of the users to alter content and the method of consumption. I don't think, however, will not amount to the end of copyright or intellectual property rights as the article hypothecates.

Some material, like console games, will be easier to control since they are reliant on a specific kind of hardware or software for use. Music, movies, and books, lack this dependence, but each presents its own problems. E-Books are easy to transport, but hard to read since LCDs cause excessive eye-strain. As a result, books will always be in production, and the control of distribution remains with the producers. Music and movies are a special case since they are not dependent on anything, and readily transferable into several different consumable forms. This modular use should not cause the industries to worry and jump on any technology band-wagon that is hostile to consumers. The industry needs to figure out how to control sharing, and the United States Supreme Court decision in Grokster was a step in the right direction. An analysis of the case reveals that the Court did enforce intangible property rights by providing a cause of action against those who distribute protected material. This will not likely push the file share "industry" into open source because "the" open source program, namely bittorrent, already has terms of service restrictions on sharing protected material. The demise of Grokster and the rise of iTunes should provide some substance to alleviate the fears in the industries. Regardless, this does not point to an end of copyright. Rather, this points to a necessary shift in the administration of these rights through the legal system. Industry v. Consumer action will likely spell the end of the industry. Distribution models and laws benefiting both the individual and the industry are necessary. How about restructuring business models and criminalizing distribution rather than changes in formatting for personal use, like with VCRs in the 1980's?

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Going too far?

While its no secret that law enforcement may request wire taps on internet services, the FCC wants to take it one step farther. The title link goes to a story detailing a new movie by the government to make it extraordinarly easy to access information flowing over the web. The premise for this particular action is to assist the department of homeland security in investigating and stopping terrorists. The other side of the coin is the privacy rights of the average individual. How far do we have to go before these regulations provide the government with the power to watch over every individual regardless of whether they are breaking the law? One relevant question is whether intangible information like electronic paper qualifies as papers or effects under the Fourth Amendment. Moreover, this seems like it could open the door to outrageous restrictions on the First Amendment if the government decides to get into the business of censoring the internet. Arguably this has already happened with broad statutes that aim to protect children. This can't stand, call your congress-person.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Interesting Approach to Revolution

So the The Times is running a story on a blogger/camgirl who is taking an interesting approach to the political division in China. Not that the bloggers fighting the man is anything new, but in this case, the weapon is humor. Its abnormal to think that a 25 year old self-proclaimed party girl would be fighting for civil liberties, but the reality is this attempt to speak, regardless of the fashion, utilizes a hotly contested method of communication. The internet is changing into the meeting place for the liberation movement, see France circa two weeks ago. What's even more interesting is that this humorous approach could . While Mu Mu is making a stand on a divisive political issue, her approach softens the blow and gets people interested. More power to her. The worst thing is that a government actually wants to end this exercise.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Proving the Aged Axiom...

The title link goes to an article about how an exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History almost wasn't because it couldn't get a corporate sponsor. Interestingly enough, corporations feared the negative press that could evolve from sponsoring the exhibit because it chronicled the work of the in/famous Charles Darwin. Apparently, business didn't want to rebuff possible customers by tacitly supporting evolution over other concepts of the origin of life like intelligent design.

Notwithstanding the subject matter of the exhibit, this news-byte demonstrates that refusing to do anything means you have still made a choice. In instances like this, that choice may not produce beneficial results, and assist in propagating misconceptions about empirical process which defines the sciences. Moreover, it demonstrates the devolution of capitalist ideology proving once more that the almighty dollar rules even the most rational of thought processes.

I am pleased to say that the exhibit was saved by a private charity. A big thanks to those who saved the day.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Congratulations to Chicago Kent School of Law

Just a quick post to congratulate a friend of mine on a national moot court win. Elaine Wyder-Harshman and I both worked for the Illinois Attorney General's Office last summer. The title link goes to the story. Congratulations again Elaine, and good luck to Kent at this years Vanderbilt competition, they should look for strong competition from us here at Valparaiso University School of Law.

Don't forget to read The Divide Destroying Democracy.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Diminishing Rights of Detainees...

Last term, the United States Supreme Court determined that detainees held by the military during war time had a right to due process in the American legal system to challenge their detainment. This allowed the detainee to petition the Federal District Court through a Writ of Habeas Corpus. The title link goes to a story about how the Senate just passed a bill that would circumvent this decision, effectively obliterating any due process rights detainees may have had. In order for this particular statute to avoid violating the Constitution, it has to be made under Congress's power to limit the jurisdiction of the federal courts. While this highlights the tension between the politics of the executive/legislative branches and the judiciary, the larger problem is the willingness of lawmakers to limit the rights of those with the fictional title of "enemy combatant." This title works in a particularly negative way. Its not a term acknowledged by international human rights treaties. This means that permanent detention is not within the restrictions of the Geneva Convetion. While a moment of rhetorical brilliance, do we really want to allow our government to violate human rights by changing the definition of who may be a detainee?

Don't forget to read "The Divide Destroying Democracy."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

More on Gay Marriage Bans...

The title link goes to a blog by John Ichikawa. I came to it through a post by another blogger, Wesaturtle, whom I became exposed to via Fazed. Now that the circle is complete, lets get to the point. Jonathan's blog post deals with a law just passed in Texas banning gay marriage. The language of the Texas state Constitutional Amendment indicate on their face that it bans all marriage. I posted a comment to his post detailing how this probably isn't the case. the language indicates that marriage is constitutionally defined in Texas as between a man and a woman. The following subsection states explicitly that no governmental entity in Texas may acknowledge a marriage that does not fit the definition in the prior subsection. This goes back to my repeated rebuke of limitations on definitions of marriage. Under cases like Loving v. Virginia and Lawrence v. Texas, its more likely than not that a future panel on the United States Supreme Court could invalidate these restrictions under due process and equal protection.

Please don't forget to read "The Divide Destroying Democracy" and promote my use of alliterations as titles.

The Divide Destroying Democracy

The Grey Area this month takes a philosophical swipe at the bipartisan party structure in American politics. Ideally, political parties help express specific ideas through the political process. Unfortunately, the structure of the parties is doing a disservice to the goal of allowing more citizens express their political beliefs.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I Don't Know Why but This Bothers Me...

The article in the title link informs the American Public that its President currently wages war against individuals it calls political enemies. What is even more interesting is that these so-called enemies are American Citizens, and the executive keeps files on each one of them. This process started when Bush was Governor of Texas. Sounds more like Gestapo politics to me. I was unaware that having an adverse political opinion these days could land you on the political enemy combatants list...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


This blog makes no bones about the fact that I can't stand DRM (digital rights management). The only thing worse is when the government backs DRM with legislation already struck down by the Courts as unconstitutional. Unfortunately, the Broadcast Flag legislation is back. Ladies and gentlemen, this is an attemtp to restrict information flow to the American people. This is asinine. Call or write your congressman. Please!