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Saturday, February 01, 2003

no, no, no

Columbia space shuttle disaster. CNN's news as of 10:25 EST is here. [Via Dave] Glenn Reynolds has been monitoring since NASA lost contact and the shuttle missed its scheduled landing time at Kennedy Space Center.

Friday, January 31, 2003

You're Surrounded

The Screen Savers had an excellent January 30 episode featuring a couple of new twists on surround sound. Jack Buser, manger of game development for Dolby Labs, showed off a pair of wireless headphones that deliver full 5.1 surround sound. How did they pull this off? "We reverse-engineered your head." Herbie Hancock has created "an unprecedented live concert experience" by incorporating a surround sound deck and engineer. "The first time Hancock heard the live surround sound at work, 'it blew my mind,' he says. And this coming from a man who played for seven years with Miles Davis. Such a mind is not easily blown." (Screen Savers devotees: I'm missing those lost thirty minutes. I feel sure you feel my pain.)

A Theory...

Some say too much debt. Could it be, rather, too few blogs?

Lawgus Interruptus

More from Rick about the focus of the Brobeck dissolution coverage and the Merc's deeper look. The Google list keeps growing. has a Rise/Fall chart. [Update] Rick's observation about businesses that essentially zero out at year end is a zinger.

Thursday, January 30, 2003


The Recorder: "Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison -- just two years ago the most profitable firm in the Bay Area -- is dissolving following the collapse of merger negotiations with Philadelphia-based Morgan, Lewis & Bockius." Greedy SF/SV Board (Mace Windu): "Dead Pool winning date is January 30, 2003." [Update] Rick Klau's thoughtful comments and perspective.

This Not Yet Out

But recently in: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Book V in the series. Pre-order now for the June 21, 2003 release. That's . Sales Rank: 1. Barnes & Noble Sales Rank: 1.

Nine-Four, Good Buddy!

I kinda suspected Howard wasn't going to be able to maintain a scrupulously thong-free environment for very long, despite all good intentions to the contrary -- didn't you? (That's a big nine hours, four minutes by my clock.) Which is more than ok for any number of reasons, including his excellent coverage of yesterday's judicial confirmation hearings (starting here and ongoing), and the role he played in encouraging the Federalist Society to close a gender disparity in its CafePress offerings. I remain a big fan of the ProSua constitutional theme, which figures in my day's wardrobe yet again (north or south, I'm not telling).

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Lexis, Westlaw And Public Access

Melissa Barr asks (in Searcher, The Magazine for Database Professionals, via TVC Alert) about Lexis and Westlaw pricing policies for public libraries, and the companies respond in sidebar. (See also: Ernie Svenson, "Technological advances presage economic downturn," and Rory Perry, "Law Is Free.")

"Reasonable Expectations" Deemed Unreasonable Standard

Interesting decision yesterday from the First Circuit (EF Cultural Travel v. Zefer Corp.; via Howard*) concerning whether a party who built technology used to gather information from a travel Web site could be enjoined on the basis of asserted violations of the Copyright Act or the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Although the Court upheld the district court's injunction against Zefer, which built a tool that would help an EF competitor "'scrape' the prices from EF's website and download them into an Excel spreadsheet," it did so on the limited ground that neither Zefer nor any other party on notice could help "a tentatively-identified wrongdoer" -- Zefer's co-defendant Explorica -- exploit wrongfully obtained confidential information. (Explorica was formed by former EF employees, some of whom had confidentiality agreements, and was subject to an injunction previously endorsed by the Court). The Court rejected the notion that the scraper could "exceed authorized access" under the CFAA in the absence of technological barriers to access or express statements purporting to prohibit access:
This case itself illustrates the flaws in the "reasonable expectations" standard. Why should the copyright symbol, which arguably does not protect the substantive information anyway, Feist Publ'ns, Inc. v. Rural Tel. Serv. Co., 499 U.S. 340, 344-45 (1991), or the provision of page-by-page access for that matter, be taken to suggest that downloading information at higherspeed is forbidden. EF could easily include--indeed, by now probably has included--a sentence on its home page or in its terms of use stating that "no scrapers may be used," giving fair warning and avoiding time-consuming litigation about its private, albeit "reasonable," intentions. Needless to say, Zefer can have been in no doubt that EF would dislike the use of the scraper to construct a database for Explorica to undercut EF's prices; but EF would equally have disliked the compilation of such a database manually without the use of a scraper tool. EF did not purport to exclude competitors from looking at its website and any such limitation would raise serious public policy concerns. [citations omitted]
For purposes of its analysis the Court assumed that the fraud requirement for a CFAA violation had been satisfied, or was not an obstacle to an injunction. The Court did not elaborate on whether it thought statements purporting to prohibit scraping would have any effect beyond helping to define the scope of "authorized" access, and it also declined to reach Zefer's argument that its actions enjoyed First Amendment protection, as the injunction was aimed only at misuse of confidential information. Unexpected fact: this opinion does not even mention "trespass." Must not have been raised below (?). *I'm thinking Howard has the makings of a successful Vegas act coming together, although he'll need a snappier name than "The Perpetually Astounding and Endearingly Clever Human Advance Sheet," which is all I can come up with at the moment.

Turner: Believe His Lies

Like that digital identity can now work for you. Or that switching really is an option.


Tuesday, January 28, 2003


Mad Kane branches out: Dubya comics. And don't forget to check his diary on this momentous evening.

So Stated

The ABA is compiling a compendium of 2001-02 "State of the Judiciary" adresses. 31 such speeches are set forth, along with many of their Web locations, in this PDF. (The California Courts Web page collects Chief Justice Ron George's speeches here.)

Bad With Breakfast

Stugots, there must be better ways of getting out to the movies.

Patience, Grasshopper

I'm interested to read the new Third Circuit Web jurisdiction decision described at [via ILN], but it doesn't seem to be up yet up at the Court's Web site or other likely spots. From the article, it sounds like it's consistent overall with the California Supreme Court's Pavlovich decision. [Update 2:35 p.m.] We have opinion. Thanks, Howard!

Monday, January 27, 2003

Around Blawgistan

Goodness, I'm having a busy day. Hopefully you've seen these already, but if not I'm surfacing momentarily to urge you to visit -- The Blawgistan Times: extremely nifty, still-under-development-so-help-make-this-great tool, designed to make reading blawgs, and communicating with and among blawgers, a quick, easy and information-rich experience. I'm really excited about this for anyone interested in legal weblogs and legal information on the Web in general. See Jonas and Kevin for details about participation and features. Does Open And Notorious promise to do for law school what Santa's blog did for the holidays? Could be, except they're not necessarily making this stuff up... [via The Blawg Ring] Internet News by Gwen Harris is full of great information about the Web and research. [via Ernie] (We now return this blawger to her regularly scheduled program of circumnavigating the state.)

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Fries With That

JD Lasica's recent OJR article (News That Comes To You) is thorough and informative, and helps explain not only why the currently available RSS aggregators are compelling, but why the next stage is going to be even more critical. Integration into browser and email clients seems inevitable and key:
Among the developments already under way: The open-source Mozilla browser and Netscape 7 come with sidebars that can display RSS feeds. ... Suggests [freelance software developer Roger] Turner: "The perfect news reader won't be a 'news reader' -- it'll be an agent that mediates our interaction with personalized bulletins: aggregating, filtering, and prioritizing many sources of changing information."
Personally, I haven't found a tool available today that I've fallen utterly in love with (the app I find myself liking most consistently is Web-based BlogHog, and it could benefit from a feature infusion), but there is no question I'd rather view and select headlines from tailored feeds in an aggregator than sift through and delete email, even with the most sophisticated rules and folder structures aiding the process. The latter is bound to be more time consuming and invasive. By way of illustration, compare the following two restaurant scenarios. In the first, a diner is presented with a categorized menu and permitted to order what she wants. In the second, the kitchen's entire output is heaped on the table, and the diner must decide what to send back. In the latter case, it doesn't matter that this is the diner's favorite restaurant, or that the food as arrayed is well organized. Ordering off the menu inevitably will be faster and require less of the diner's energy and participation. There may of course be diners who prefer to have everything brought to the table, but those individuals will have more time, and/or more desire to make case-by-case decisions about what is appetizing, than those who prefer the menu route. Be sure to check out the follow-ups to JD's article as listed on his blog, Tom Matrullo's observation that "technical newsreading mastery brings with it a richly expanded and imaginatively transformed reading of the news," and the discussion going on at Ernie's about what people are trying and using. [Update] Tom clarifies. Ah. I guess in response to Tom's suggestion I would offer the fact I know I access a wider variety of information, from diverse sources such as his wonderful blog, than I did before I had the help of RSS and aggregation. For me, it has expanded the sources I rely on for news and made me a more critical and sophisticated parser of what I read.

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