Saturday, July 26, 2003
- "The Internet Is Reshaping Bryant Story:" "Mainstream newspapers, torn between old standards and new fears of losing readers to broadcasters or cyberspace, are split over how much to tell readers about the accuser's past."
- "VeriSign Faces Suit Over Stolen Sex Site:" "The appeals court overturned a lower court ruling that Network Solutions couldn't be held liable for the theft of sex.com because Internet names aren't tangible property. By the lower court's logic, [9th Circuit Judge Alex] Kozinski wrote, the crime of 'torching a company's file room' would be treated differently from the crime of 'hacking into its mainframe and deleting data.'"
Only a few weeks ago, it appeared the administration would easily overcome the remaining obstacles to a federal rule allowing large communications companies to control a larger share of the nation's television markets.
But a sudden change in political currents, culminating in a House vote Wednesday, has left that outcome in doubt. The turnabout reflects an unanticipated swell of opposition in rural areas to a consolidation of local media and intensive lobbying by liberal and conservative interest groups against the new rule.
Friday, July 25, 2003
Rory Perry: "There's been a wash of articles this month that appear to solidify weblogs as a solid online content platform for politics, business and public information. This continued level of acceptance will hopefully enable more conservative institutions (like courts) to embrace the platform more widely." Rory's roundup.
I was about to address this post to anyone visiting from today's ABA Journal eReport article on lawyer blogs, then remembered that eReport articles supply no hyperlinks...
No matter, if you went to the extra effort of finding Bag and Baggage through a search engine (or if you followed an inbound link from a Web page that by definition would have somewhat less on the eBall than a bona fide eReport), and are curious to read what people much smarter than I have to say about relationships between the Web, organizations, individuals, and society, then by all means please visit, buy, and/or sign up for:
- World of Ends: What the Internet Is and How to Stop Mistaking It for Something Else
- Cluetrain, the Manifesto
- Cluetrain, the Book
- Gonzo Marketing: Winning Through Worst Practices
- Small Pieces Loosely Joined: A Unified Theory of the Web
- Up2Speed's Business Weblogs—The Big List, and the weblogs there referenced
- John Lawlor
- And just to wake you up and blow your mind, the first interview since May '02 with the "gentle person with a piercing vision" and Cluetrain co-author who started me down this rosy path, including the outline for his book-in-process, and more allusions and illusions—literary, psychosocial, philosophical and I'm leaving some out—than you can shake a Dali at.
- [Update] Bad on me for initially omitting Robert Scoble's Corporate Weblog Manifesto too.
Lawyers, Blogs, Money, And Stone Cold
This week's issue of the ABA Journal eReport includes an article, "Bemused About Blogging," that encourages a cautious and open-eyed approach to legal weblogging. This is something I always try to foster as well. However, to the extent the article suggests a blogging lawyer must dissimulate and dissemble to avoid alienating clients, it perpetuates insular thinking and ignores the realities of the modern business world, which thankfully is populated by individuals with a broad range of interests and concerns.
Before I get into that, one thing needs to be clarified up front since the writer Stephanie Ward apparently had some trouble distinguishing between comments I was making and comments I told her others had made on similar topics. Specifically, in response to her question about writing about things beyond just the law, I told Stephanie that Eugene Volokh had addressed this in his recent interview with Chris Lydon and she should go take a listen. I also told her I appreciated Eugene's answer so much I had quoted him on B&B, and proceeded to read her the interview passage in question. The quotes and attribution somehow got left out of her piece, but one of the benefits of having a weblog is the ability to supply such things where, as here, they have been neglected or cut.
As far as the overall message of the piece, everyone is entitled to an opinion about what might constitute "acid-rainmaking," a great turn of phrase supplied by Perkins Coie Labor and Employment partner Michael Reynvaan. Not so great in my view is Mr. Reynvaan's suggestion that while writing about certain hobbies—"bridge, marathon training, sailing"—might form a common bond with clients, writing about others—"professional wrestling or NASCAR"—could be perceived as "unlawyerly." Maybe it's just me, but the adjectives such an approach brings to mind are "elitist," "narrow-minded," "backward," and "out of touch." While I'm not personally into NASCAR—IRL is more my thing—or professional wrestling, if I were, I assume from time to time they'd come up here. Then, to the extent any of the millions of people who contribute to the huge popularity of these pursuits—who are bound to include clients, potential clients, and colleagues—should stumble on a related Bag and Baggage post, it might just bring a smile to their face.
If you want an automaton as a lawyer, someone like me may not be your best bet. If, on the other hand, you would prefer your legal representatives to think, breathe, and have some grasp on the kinds of cultural and policy issues that so frequently affect the development of the law and the outcome of judicial decisions, that might be another story. By the way, I think the same thing goes for Howard Bashman, who inaccurately is described in the article as someone who "does not discuss personal issues on his blog." Anyone passingly familiar with How Appealing recognizes that Howard's passions and personality, and the way they come through in his writing, are an enormous part of what makes his weblog exceptional.
Buy.com launched BuyMusic.com earlier this week, and the reviews are pouring in. Mac Observer does a side-by-side comparison with the iTunes Music Store and concludes the BuyMusic.com flexible pricing model can be a gouge: "Is anyone home at BuyMusic.com? Is the amazing DRM dance they are doing distracting them from common sense pricing?" The Mac News Network notes the rip-off television ads (which I saw for the first time Wednesday night; yeah, they're catchy but much, much too familiar), and the fact songs can't be moved to an iPod (50% of the portable player market). Ars Technica likewise is unimpressed:
With Buymusic.com, you'll end up with a cacophony of licensing deals that'll make doing your taxes look easy. It looks to have been a trade-off: Apple put their fist down and said, "our way or the highway," and some labels walked. Buymusic.com was more flexible, and as a result, their music catalog has about 100k more songs, but lacks consistency.
[T]he licenses are totally non-transferable, and are machine specific. The license is tied not to you, or to a key you possess. Nope, the license is tied to the computer. As far as I can tell, and someone on the phone confirmed this, once you switch computers, you're no longer licensed. Your burned CDs are still playable, but the WMA file on your computer will no longer work.
As Doc Searls recently observed, "there is zero demand on the customers' side" for these sorts of shenanigans. Much as I would like to see BuyMusic.com take off, the market may have some hard lessons for it in the near term.
Thursday, July 24, 2003
Sallie Hofmeister in today's Los Angeles Times business section ("Media Owners May Have to Sell"):
A spending bill passed Wednesday by the House of Representatives includes a provision to block implementation—for one year—of a recent Federal Communications Commission decision allowing a single company to own stations that reach 45% of the nation's TV households, up from 35%.
Jane's Addiction last night on Carson Daly was epic. So glad they're back, so wish their new album Strays (five stars from the Guardian) was available from iTunes, along with Radiohead's new album, Hail to the Thief (three stars).
Failing that, if you are in northern California and free tomorrow night, don't miss the EFF's Digital Mix at the Black Box on Telegraph in Oakland. bIPlog has more. (I've heard CatFive, and they alone would be worth the trip!)
From the front page of today's Los Angeles Times, "Birth by Test Tube Turns 25:"
Today, as Louise Brown approaches her 25th birthday, a once-stupendous and controversial accomplishment has become routine. In vitro fertilization is an outpatient procedure conducted at nearly 400 clinics in the United States alone. More than 1 million people conceived in lab dishes now walk the Earth.
(No, I didn't have to go that route, but know plenty of people who have.)
Item of the day I wouldn't want to be this pregnant and live without: these soft, comfy, faux-suede slacks (sans stripes, and avec more buttoned buttons) by the perplexingly-named Japanese Weekend, via the superbly-named One Hot Mama.
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
Inc. has a July article about business blogging ("Blogging for Business") and the importance of doing it right. In fact, writer Anne Stuart appears to have a keen grasp on the sliding scale of escalating risks:
But blogs are also deceptively tricky to manage. Do it wrong and you could embarrass yourself, bore or alienate customers or prospects, contribute to information overload, and potentially even wind up on the wrong end of a lawsuit.
Worse yet, you could run afoul of the blogging community itself.
(She also managed to move me back to San Francisco without the usual inconveniences of packing, househunting and the like. My parents will be thrilled, but this is bound to come as some surprise to the husband. ;) )
Jonathan Bender on Intel v. Hamidi (PDF): "Intel put forward the wrong evidence in its summary judgment papers by focusing on disruption in its workplace caused by the content of Hamidi's messages, rather than the disruption to its computer systems caused by the e-mails themselves and the likelihood of future harms caused by other ex-employees inspired by Hamidi. ... Other plaintiffs need not make the same mistake." (Note that when Jonathan's article, "California Retethers Internet 'Tresspass to Chattels' to Chattels," was posted it might not have been immediately apparent that Chief Justice George concurred in Justice Mosk's dissent. The Court has reposted the opinion to so reflect.)
John Palfrey points to an interesting Boston Globe article on the impact of blogs on the current election cycle: "'Blogs' shake the political discourse." Rick Klau, in the article, discusses why voter trust and blogging may go hand in hand: "These are very honest opinions, and they're not poll-tested." Note that Rick puts his savvy where his mouth is, and has been helping the Dean campaign add features to its official blog.
But as Dave Winer and others have noted, while blogging candidates are exciting they are just part of the equation and it's the folks on the ground who may supply coverage and information about the 2004 U.S. elections the likes of which we've never experienced. Stop by Cameron Barrett's Watchblog: 2004, for example, for some multi-party, multi-editor immersion in the issues and candidates. [via Sabrina Pacifici]
Midway through the 20th week: "You're halfway there!"
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
This discussion among blawgers about blawging is a must-read, and notable in particular for its observations about the personal connections blogging enables that otherwise would not be possible. Jerry Lawson, for example, "did a posting about a news aggregator program, and received a response—from the guy who programmed it." This kind of thing happens with such great regularity that it's tempting to start taking it for granted, but that would be a mistake. This is a medium uniquely suited to bridging divides of culture, expertise, and distance, and though like Ernie I have no clue about the ultimate destination, it's good fun to be along for the ride.
The Journal of Appellate Practice and Process has been a staple subscription of mine for a long time. Delightfully enough, Gary O'Connor and Stephanie Tai have co-authored an article in the current issue about Legal And Appellate Weblogs: What They Are, Why You Should Read Them, And Why You Should Consider Starting Your Own. (Thank you Blogger and Blog*Spot for making it ridiculously simple for one of the co-authors to make this widely available.)
Note too that Stephanie has started The Blawg Review, reviewing law journal and academic articles.
Over the next few weeks I'll be writing a piece on the Intel v. Hamidi (PDF) trespass to chattels decision for a national legal publication. I'll keep you posted as to its availability.
Chris Lydon on Doc Searls, who he interviewed yesterday: "I see Doc in a white coat, with a medicine bag. Blogs are his scope on the soul and spirit of the country." Doc marvels at the speed and ease with which Chris made this available, but equally marvelous is Doc's instantaneous ability to review and clarify, which of course he has done. The interview may be over, but the conversation continues.
From today's TVC Alert: "The current business news search engine Rocketnews now enables searching blog sources. Select 'Weblogs' from the pull-down category menu." And if you want to focus on what the legal bloggers have to say, Blawg Search by Detod lets you do just that.
Monday, July 21, 2003
A provision of the California Code of Civil Procedure, Section 664.6, is designed to help parties enforce litigation settlements to which everyone has agreed, but which may be called into question when someone suffers "buyer's remorse" or otherwise has a change of heart. I am co-author of an article in the current issue of the Civil Litigation Reporter that analyzes recent appellate decisions in this area and suggests strategies for ensuring an enforceable settlement.
I had a great time with Jonas yesterday morning just before heading off to the airport. His tag line now reads like a Swiss Army millenium edition promo: "Rambles from a guy wielding a gun, a motion to suppress, and a compiler."
Michael Hiltzik writes about lawyer abuse of California's unfair business practices law in the Business Section of today's Los Angeles Times ("Consumer-Protection Law Abused in Legal Shakedown"):
One thing on which both sides agree is that Section 17200 is unique in the nation. It allows any Californian to sue a business for wrongdoing on behalf of the general public even if no one, including the plaintiff, has been personally injured. All that is necessary to state a 17200 claim is an assertion of unfair or deceptive business practices....
[T]here's no guarantee that any particular reform will cure some lawyers of the impulse to "take advantage of their education to intimidate unsophisticated people," in the words of Michael Nisperos, the State Bar's chief prosecutor, who handled the case against the Trevor attorneys. "I don't know if there's a real cure for greed and stupidity, and that's what you really need."
New on my law firm's site is a "special topic" on Section 17200 litigation and our specialists in the defense of these claims.
Sunday, July 20, 2003
Good to see that the Pixar parking lot is (almost) deserted early on a sunny Sunday.
Unless 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.