Skip to navigation

Thursday, April 11, 2002

Are You A "Public Figure?" The convergence of these items prompts me to pose the question - • John Hiler's article about, and proposed Code Of Ethics for, weblog "journalists." ("Sometimes a blog is just a blog. But sometimes it's not.") • Chris Pirillo's recent troubles, and Eric Norlin's observations about "super node status." • Attorney Richard Sprague's agreement to be treated as a "limited purpose" public figure in his libel lawsuit against the ABA, stemming from an ABA Journal article that dubbed him "perhaps the most powerful lawyer-cum-fixer in the state" (Sprague doesn't like the "fixer" part, because it could imply he improperly manipulates the outcome of cases). [] As illustrated by Richard Sprague's suit against the ABA, "public figure" status makes it more difficult to bring and win a defamation case. See also The Chilling Effects Clearinghouse ("The degree of protection [against a defamation claim] generally depends on whether the person commented about is a private or public figure and whether the statement is regarding a private or public matter. According to the New York Times rule, when the plaintiff is a public figure and the matter is also public, the plaintiff must prove 'malice' on the part of the defendant. If both parties are private individuals, there is less protection because the plaintiff only needs to prove negligence;" emphasis added). The proliferation of weblogs is bound to add twists to this area of law. Traditionally (and logically), public figure status has turned on "prominence," and can attach to those who, for example, "thrust themselves to the forefront of particular public controversies in order to influence the resolution of the issues involved." See Gertz v. Robert Welch, Inc., 418 U.S. 323, 345 (1974). Can the day be far off when a blogger will attempt to answer libel allegations (see John Hiler's article) by pointing to the subject's Daypop and Blogdex numbers?

Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Urgent Fax California Senator Debra Bowen's Anti-Fax Spam Bill (SB 1358) cleared committee this week. [Newsbytes, via llrx] Says Bowen, “Junk faxes aren’t just an annoying invasion of privacy, they also force people to foot the advertising costs of fax advertisers trying to hock wireless phone services, office equipment, vacation packages, and more. I put a survey up on my website in January to ask people about junk faxes and virtually all of the more than 400 people who have taken the survey said they – not some marketing company – should have the right to decide what gets sent to their fax machine.” I subscribe to a Web based fax service and get tons of the stuff. Bowen also spearheaded the 1998 amendment to California Business and Professions Code Section 17538.4, regarding unsolicited faxes and email. (As of this morning, 207 addresses are being filtered from my work email account alone.)

InstaPundit and ConservativeEconomist Articles Glenn Reynolds has a Tech Central Station column today on the future of weblogs. ("[E]ven top-of-the-line mainstream news institutions like The New York Times are becoming more like webloggers all the time, cutting the size and number of foreign bureaus, and relying more and more on wire services for original reporting to which they add commentary and 'news analysis.' That opens an opportunity for a widely-dispersed network of individuals to make a contribution.") Glenn also points to another TCS column by James Miller. Miller speculates about bloggers "selling out" if the economy picks up: "Soon, I suspect, the Internet will become a more profitable place to operate. When it is again profitable to attract a wide audience, bloggers will be hired by media companies. While not all bloggers will 'sell out' / 'sign up' those that do will get the advantage of working under a media brand name and will consequently grow in popularity and influence." Miller predicts "signing up" will occur because independent bloggers will be drowned out by the multi-media roar of corporate sites: "When high-speed Internet access proliferates...professional sites will go multi-media and the solo bloggers won't be able to compete." He presumes that "selling out" will follow. Maybe. But I'm reminded of the SXSW audience member who observed that fake corporate blogs are "like your dad trying to buy pot." They won't get read. So "selling out" has a built-in disincentive. See generally Gonzo Marketing.

Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Listening To Frank, And The Radio Frank Paynter writes that the University of Wisconsin's student radio station is going off Web air in light of the pending CARP recommendations, and he's right, this sux indeed. The red-letter day for WSUM and others will be Tuesday, May 21. The Copyright Office has until then to decide whether or not to accept the recommended rate structure. Hopefully the uproar and input will make a difference, and these stations will be able to breathe a sigh of relief (let's hope they can stick it out). Making a ruckus is the most useful thing to do in meantime (and - usefully - doesn't cost a dime). Save Internet Radio is a great place to start. ▪ (later) More ruckus: "The American Open Technology Consortium" and "GeekPAC". [Doc]

More re Kelly Google also has weighed in with a short (nine page) amicus brief in support of rehearing. (Was able to edit annoying typo in last post by coming home and Mac-ing. Go figure.)

Linking And Thinking The EFF and, more recently, journalist Patti Waldmeir, believe the Ninth Circuit went too far in its Kelly v. Arriba decision in February. I read the case when it first came out, and thought the Court had done a good job of balancing the interests of the copyright holder Kelly against those of the Ditto search engine in aggregating and linking to information on the Web. The EFF argues "the activity that the Panel has condemned is technically indistinguishable from linking generally." Waldmeir picks up on this and says the decision threatens the legality of all linking. As I read the decision though, there was something that set Ditto's conduct apart from others linking to online material. Ditto was not just linking. Instead, Kelly's copyrighted image was displayed on Ditto's page in its original, full-sized format, exactly as it would appear on Kelly's site. The Court reasoned that the search engine could function perfectly using thumbnail images instead of full-sized ones, and that linking through a full-sized image harmed Kelly by doing away with the need to visit the originating site in order to view the image in all its full-sized glory.

Monday, April 08, 2002

Blawging Along Rick Klau's article in the American Bar Association's Law Practice Management Magazine this month will help introduce more of the legal field to blogging. Along those lines, I am pleased to add Rory L. Perry II to the blawg roster today, in two manifestations (thanks to Will and Jenny). Rory is the Clerk of the Supreme Court of Appeals in West Virgina (the state's high court). He has his own blog, and also maintains one for the Court where new opinions and other information are available. Rory really gets how technology can help the courts conduct business and interact; some of his other efforts may be found here and here.

Small Piece David Weinberger writes that starting your name with a punctuation mark is like displaying a pierced tongue (e.g. ".Zannah"). What does this tell us about b!X's navel, exactly? (;->)

Sunday, April 07, 2002

Commander Taco, The Cyber-Poet (If you're into this sort of thing, also check out Ray Kurzweil's Cybernetic Poet.) Bag and ah, he is quick to take awhile back to the potential future. Use LANtastic? With a very well Fang will be resurrected from country to the Little trapping dismantling to a blog. I tell the Ninth Circuit Court of sadness itself, how can drag the web. The patented, isolated and overarching digital CEO proceeds to drive there. Are useful process, via telex on law. Review granted, a place already holds such vigorous debate. In the company According to practice remains a comment Wednesday, March 19, 2002. Still have known as demonstrable evidence, I want the idea of the plaintiff from visiting the applications. A lawyer has a comment Thursday, March 21, AM | link get_comment_link. Add a place open one of Appeal that the proliferation of the patent issued for laughing so be chilled through technology with Ed in order they have had a new, things. Roll your own. And if it spits out something as double-taking as "The Ninth Circuit, Court of sadness itself" or "the proliferation of the patent issued for laughing so be chilled through technology," I want to hear about it! (Thanks, Elaine.)

Blawgalanche The hummingbird outside my window this morning wants to read more blawgs. And since Chuck was kind enough to highlight some others, I'm happy to help her out: • ICANNWatch: where law professors from Temple, Wayne State and the University of Miami contribute to a blog about ICANN and its UDRP (try saying that five times fast). • Bret Fausett: a Los Angeles attorney blogging about ICANN and DNS issues. • Swerdloff: A New York attorney blogging about Being John Cusack (the sequel to Being John Malkovich?), neurolinguistic programming, a sign that gets around, etc.

Creative Commons LicenseUnless otherwise expressly stated, all original material of whatever nature created by Denise M. Howell and included in the Bag and Baggage weblog and any related pages, including the weblog's archives, is licensed under a Creative Commons License.