Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Sorry about the neglect, yo

So, I received my Juris Doctor degree on Saturday. I also had a jillion family members roll into town. Folks I haven't seen since I was 4 and 7 years old. Crazy. Good to see 'em tho. Plus a surprise visit from one of my dearest, bestest friends, Tater State. That was definitely a highlight of the whole graduation cluster f**k weekend.

I really got nothin' for you. Just know all is well and I am happy as the clam that I am.

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Saturday, May 21, 2005


Hey kids in the Portland area, today (Saturday) and tomorrow (Sunday), St. Philip Neri Parish is having a rummage sale. There should be all sorts of good stuff for cheap.

Hours are Sat. 9-4 and Sun. 9-2 with a "dollar a bag" sale starting at noon on Sunday.

St. Phil's is on Division between 16th and Tamarack (SE corner of Ladd's addition)--just west of the New Seasons.

Hope to see you there.

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Myth of Anonymity

Tyranny of the majority or not, folks are getting a lesson on the myth of internet anonymity over at Portland Communique.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A "wounded white dragon resting on the grass"

For anyone who ever loved a rollercoaster...

Or Spirited Away.

Via Boing Boing

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On wine and filesharing

I love music and I love wine. That's why I've been pondering the similarities between the wine direct shipment controversy and the whole P2P filesharing hullabaloo. Both of these things are controversies for the exact same reason: the internet fucks with distributors and distributors don't like that.

First music. U.S. Copyright law exists to promote the progress of art. That is, we give an economic incentive to artists by granting them monopolies on their art for limited times, which hopefully induces them to make more art. But, see, artists are kind of single minded individuals. The economic incentive theory only works if in fact artists want to sell their art for money. Most artists would rather make their art then spend time trying to sell it. In economics this is called a transaction cost. Traditionally, the transaction costs associated with producing and marketing music have been high. That's why most of the time copyright only indirectly benefits the artist. They can assign their copyright to a middleman (e.g., record label who then gives a cut to the distributor) in exchange for the middleman doing all the boring marketing stuff. All is well in the world. Record labels and distributors become rich and powerful. Musicians do not, but they still make their records because what else are you going to do? Along comes the internet. This fucks everything up because suddenly transaction costs are reduced dramatically. Huge paradigm shift which sends the record industry reeling. The middlemen are suddenly obsolete, or at least their role is dramatically altered. Their only recourse is to lobby for copyright laws that can force us all to keep the status quo. Lucky for them they have the force of the Constitution Art. I, sec. 8, cl. 8 (the copyright clause) to help them along.

Same shit with the wine industry. We can think of small wine producers as artisans much more interested in making good wine than doing all that boring marketing shit. But, they gotta sell their wine. Enter the distributors. Both large and small winemakers were entirely dependent on distributors to get their wine in the hands of consumers. Distributors became big and powerful. But, enter the internet. Suddenly transaction costs for getting wine to consumers drop. Small wineries can market their wine and ship directly to consumers with ease. Distributors freak out. They lobby states to prohibit direct shipment of wine, couching their reasons in terms of harm to minors. Lucky for them, they have the force of the 21st Amendment to help them along. But, at least here, the Supremes have said that the Dormant Commerce Clause trumps the 21st amendment. However, the Dormant Commerce Clause only means that whatever action states take to regulate alcohol can't be discriminatory. That means if they allow direct shipment by instate wineries, they also have to allow direct shipment by out of state wineries. Of course they could always prohibit direct shipment completely, and only allow wine to be sold through distributors. What do you think the distributors are going to lobby for?

On second thought, I'm not so sure I'll be sending wine to Virginia any time soon.

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Monday, May 16, 2005

Dormant Commerce Clause Trumps 21st amendment

That means, according to a 5-4 decision by the Supremes today, New York and Michigan's laws against direct shipment of wine to their residents is unconstitutional. Hopefully, the opinion applies to all 22 states that have direct shipment prohibitions. Maybe I can finally send some Oregon Pinot to my family in Virginia. Thus far it would have been a felony to do so.

See Granholm v. Heald.


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Sunday, May 15, 2005

St. Lawrence University abuses copyright

Apparently a group of anonymous student bloggers who are highly critical of their school have induced the school to file a complaint against them in NDNY district court seeking the identity of the students and damages.

While, the posts on the blog might be considered defamatory, the problem lies in the fact that the college is not suing for defamation. Instead it is suing for copyright infringement.

Here's a little background:

In both defamation and copyright infringement cases online, the plaintiff can subpoena the names of the individuals from an ISP. The tests for whether a court will issue the subpoena are drastically different, however.

In defamation cases, the court will balance the 1st amendment right to free speech with the government's subpoena power. This gets strict scrutiny. Additionally, the court balances the interest of the plaintiff in its lawsuit with the interest of of the defendants in maintaining their anonymity because "[a]nonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority." McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission (Supremes, 1995). Factors include: good faith, the information relates to a core claim, the ID of the individuals is directly relevant to the claim, and the information is unavailable from any other source.

Copyright is a whole other ball of wax. Pursuant to the Digital Milleneum Copyright Act § 512(h), a subpoena can be issued to the ISP to reveal the identity of the individuals. However, in the copyright context there is no First Amendment analysis. That's right, no strict scrutiny for free speech. No scrutiny at all. Instead, the plaintiff just has to swear that it has a good purpose and will only use the information for its copyright claim. All this can be done without the ISP notifiying the individuals (except in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which does require notice).

So, you can see why St. Lawrence University would rather file a copyright infringement claim than a defamation claim. To its credit, the bloggers did post photographs to which the college lays claim. However, it is obvious from the text of the complaint that it is not really concerned with the use of the photographs, but the offensive postings about its faculty and staff, i.e., defamation. As such, these students should at least get the benefit of a first amendment analysis before their identities are revealed. However, thanks once again to the DMCA that ain't gonna happen.

Via Copyfight!

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Forgive me for the blog slow-down as of late. I haven't been spending much time near the computer as usual. Instead I've been doing yardwork during the day, and drinking heavily at night. It's as though the last three years never happened. Except, I wonder who these people are doing yardwork and drinking with me.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005



Ah, lovely. Call me up, so we can drink.

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Monday, May 09, 2005

Good riddance!

I'm done with my BizAssII(Corporations) exam (aka Economics 410). Now we shall never speak of it again.

One left, and it is trademark. Beautiful, beautiful trademark. Trademark that I know and love. Please don't let me down, dear trademark.

End of line.

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Sunday, May 08, 2005

Happy Mother's Day

The original Mother's Day Proclamation by Julia Ward Howe 1870:

Mother's Day Proclamation

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of fears!

Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience."

"We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says 'Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.'"

Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel.

Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.

Thanks, Susan. Oh, and thank goodness for the public domain.

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Saturday, May 07, 2005

Almost there...

(stay on target).

Half way done as of yesterday afternoon.

Here's what I want for my birthday: this and this.

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Friday, May 06, 2005

Congress does not hide elephants in mouse holes

Remember my rants (here and here) about the FCC's broadcast flag rule that would take effect this July? Well, the DC Cir. Court of Appeals just told the FCC to shove it in Am. Library Assoc. v. FCC.

Can't remember what I'm talking about? Here's a recap of what the broadcast flag was intended to do (from the court opinion):

The broadcast flag, or
Redistribution Control Descriptor, is a digital code embedded in
a digital broadcasting stream, which prevents digital television
reception equipment from redistributing digital broadcast
content. See id. at 16,027. The effectiveness of the broadcast
flag regime is dependent on programming being flagged and on
devices capable of receiving broadcast DTV signals
(collectively "demodulator products") being able to recognize
and give effect to the flag. Under the rule, new demodulator
products (e.g., televisions, computers, etc.) must include flag-
recognition technology. This technology, in combination with
broadcasters’ use of the flag, would prevent redistribution of
broadcast programming. The broadcast flag does not have any
impact on a DTV broadcast transmission. The flag’s only effect
is to limit the capacity of receiver apparatus to redistribute
broadcast content after a broadcast transmission is complete.

That means, no home recording of digital television.

Well, the Appeals Court rightly saw that this rule would be a huge expansion of the FCC's powers, and told the MPAA they would have to go to Congress for such a law.

Cory Doctorow of the EFF's reaction over at boing boing:

The fact is, elected lawmakers are not suicidal enough to break their constituents' televisions. Watch and see: over the next year, we're all going to roast any lawmaker who so much as breathes the words "Broadcast Flag" in a favorable tone.


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Thursday, May 05, 2005

The thugs next door

As you all know, jkf, meg-a-touch, and myself are all studying for our final finals of law school. During finals week I generally hibernate in my house: pizza for every meal, soft pants 24 hours a day, phone disconnected most of the time, etc. This is because my house is generally a quiet place to study. Except for the fact that 2 out of the 6 times I have done this the city has decided to tear up and repave my street--during finals. Why twice in three years, I don't know. And now, my next door neighbors are re-roofing their house.

This is the house where the old lady used to live (she passed away during finals last December). The new folks moved in almost immediately, so I think they're related to her in some way. I can't tell if they're just fixing up the house to move, or if they actually plan on staying there, but they sure are taking their sweet time on buying furniture or curtains.

Anyway, they've hired a band of teenage thugs to re-roof the house. There are about four to six of them depending on the day, all with muscle tees and baggy pants. They chain smoke and leave cigarette butts in my yard. They blast terrible radio on their boom box all day. They spend most of the day getting stoned and riding their minibikes (the ones with the lawn mower engines) back and forth to the Plaid Pantry. Just before noon each day a gaggle of overweight teen mothers arrive with babies and lunch. This they eat on my front lawn. Fortunately, they have stopped parking their cars on the grass strip in front of my house after I asked them not to. About 2 hours a day is spent hammering and sawing. I watched them transact a drug deal in front of my house (looked to be about 1/4 oz. of weed). My drapes and front door were open and I watched them from my couch. If it hadn't been weed I would have called the cops.

They have been working on the roof for almost 2 weeks now. Even though she hated me, how I wish that hideous old crone was still alive.

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PDC, the Burnside Bridgehead, and one Crazy Motherfucker

Ok. I know that this violates my Bojack boycott, but I thought his exam yesterday was fair all round, and you have to read this.

The PDC is gonna be in a whole lotta trouble after the Oregonian, Willie Week, Randy Leonard, and Portland Communique are through with them.

Beam has appealed the PDC's decision to give the Bridgehead contract to Opus. Meanwhile Opus PR guy (who also happens to be on the payroll at the PDC), Than Clevenger, has had an extremely embarrassing public meltdown over at Portland Communique. Be sure to read his comments.

Meanwhile, with Don Mazziotti on his way out, the Mayor wants PDC to hold off on its final decision of the appeal until after the change of guard at the agency June 30.

While I've often wondered why people like Jack were so anti-PDC, the way the Bridgehead decision was handled was obviously not on the up and up.

Incidentally, Mayor Potter's new Bureau Innovation Project calls for changes at the PDC as well.

Exam proscrastination doesn't get any better than this.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

one down 3 to go

that's about all i know.

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Monday, May 02, 2005

Coming Out Part Deux

GS!: Dad, I am dating a woman.

Dad: So? You should do whatever you want. (Laughs).

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Final Countdown

I am now at the point where I understand enough Corporate and Partnership Tax that I know I will not fail the exam. This is a relief. All else is gravy.

End of transmission.

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