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Saturday, June 01, 2002

Pride Of Ownership

Washed a year and two months worth of bird doo off the mailbox today, which is precisely how long my husband and I have lived in our first mortgaged, non-shoebox apartment home.

It's A Superb Day

It's one of those days when you should live here and I should get outside, fast. Especially because I've already read this month's column from Justice Bedsworth, in which statutory construction meets apparel deconstruction through the arrest of two collegiate dryads who did their part for local morale by scampering through the streets of Orono, Maine without their backpacks. "Apparently, no search was conducted." Cross-reference (or cross-undress): U.C. Berkeley's Naked Guy.

Random Saturday Thoughts

  • If this is the class, you're the curriculum. [Via Dave Winer]
  • If Howard Bashman had a brother and the brothers had a blog (like Eugene, Sasha and now pal Juan), they'd be, of course, The Bash Brothers.

  • Friday, May 31, 2002

    Copyright Has Little Elves

    C-a-n-'-t t-y-p-e -- l-a-u-g-h-i-n-g t-o-o h-a-r-d -- g-o h-e-r-e! Thanks, Donna, I needed that.

    Blogging The Marketplace

    In keeping with the theme of blogs in business, Dave Winer had the same reaction to this piece as I did:
    "[I]t's not about advertising. It's the inverse of advertising. The economic revolution of blogging is about manufacturers giving up on advertising and going direct, talking to their users, and their competitors' users. And that won't be enough either. They'll also have to listen to the users. (BTW, that doesn't mean they have to do what the users tell them to do, nor is that always a good idea, it's not so simple and linear.)"
    And, here's Genie Tyburski's (of the Virtual Chase) take on "the value of decentralized news or 'information flows:'"
    "[C]onsider this. Wednesday afternoon at about 1:30 pm, I uploaded the expert witness article I announced in yesterday's alert. I also linked to it in our RSS feed. By 1:45 pm, Ernie the Attorney announced its availability. By 3:30 pm, Daypop had indexed it via Ernie the Attorney. By late afternoon, more than 100 visitors had read it -- all before I announced its availability!"
    [From today's Virtual Chase Alert] We're going to need shades when all those blogging lightbulbs go off over business heads at the same time 8-].

    Thursday, May 30, 2002

    Let's Try And Keep Up, Shall We?

    I suppose when the same thing comes at you on the same day from two different places, you have to blog it. Chuck Hartley writes about Formal Opinion No. 2001-155 of the Standing Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct of the State Bar of California (fondly known as COPRAC), and how it fails to address what an attorney-maintained site that incorporates "live video interactivity, a bulletin board, links to other law-related web sites, or news group functions" - or one or more weblogs, for that matter - must or must not do in order to comply with applicable standards of professional responsibility and conduct. Jon Amberg and John Rewinsky also discuss the opinion in this month's Los Angeles Lawyer, and remark how use of the Web raises ethical issues for lawyers. This begs the question: what's a "blawger" to do? According to the opinion, a California attorney's site that contains information for the public about her "availability for employment" is a "communication" and an "advertisement" subject to some rather onerous record-keeping and content requirements. Copies of every page of every version and revision of the site must be kept for two years. False or misleading statements are right out. Moreover, since a Web site - by definition - is viewable in other jurisdictions, the attorney Web publisher has to worry about being accused of the "unauthorized practice of law" in places far from home. The California rules and ethics opinions do not seem to address whether different standards should apply to personal attorney sites versus commercial ones, and the same appears true of the ABA model rules. (Other sources? Let me know.) Thus do California lawyers find themselves on the horns of a Cluetrain-y, Gonzoid, Loosely Joined dilemma. Weblogs, if used on a commercial site - and used right - will make it more "personal." "Personal" sites likewise become more "professional" when one writes about - among other things - one's profession. There already is a good deal of crossover between this blog and my firm's site - some of the "Keeping Current" material there will look familiar if you've been checking in here. Should the two be treated differently from a professional responsibility standpoint? I'm inclined to say "yes," but I don't necessarily like where that goes - it assumes the firm site must be all about Making You Its Client, and this site must be all about things like Indy cars and Star Trek. The reality should be recognized as lying somewhere in between. That way, the law firm need not quiet the voices of its constituent members, and I need not ignore my lawyerdom here. There goes the Web again, introducing gray areas and blurring distinctions. It's hard to predict what the ethicists will do when they confront whether the burdens on individual record-keeping and speech should be increased, or the ones on a law office should be lessened, when both actually may be doing similar things on the Web.


    Jeffrey Rosen's April 14 New York Times Magazine article (registration required), Silicon Valley's Spy Game:
    '''Today, every federal intelligence and law-enforcement agency and all manner of state and local bodies maintain their own separate databases on suspected criminals,' Larry Ellison, the founder and C.E.O. of Oracle Corporation, wrote in The Wall Street Journal last October. 'Do we need more databases? No, just the opposite. The biggest problem today is that we have too many. The single thing we could do to make life tougher for terrorists would be to ensure that all the information in myriad government databases was integrated into a single national file.' Oracle, in fact, is the world's largest database manufacturer, and Ellison offered to donate the software for a single national database free of charge to the United States government. (The company, Ellison added, would charge for upgrades and maintenance.) ... It's not surprising, of course, that Larry Ellison sincerely believes that what's good for Oracle is good for America. But there are, in fact, differences between an e-business and the American government, differences that perhaps should make us hesitate before reconstructing America along the business model of the Oracle Corporation."

    Wednesday, May 29, 2002

    So Much For The Intergalactic Melting Pot

    "It's an interesting point. Why are there no gay characters in Star Trek? Does Star Fleet Command have a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy?" Martin Sargent on Gay Star Trek, one of five unusual online petitions included on his Twisted List today for The Screen Savers.

    What Macs Do When You're Not Looking

    I swear this goes on the moment my back is turned. (Thanks to Andrew Raff for the link.)

    "Unintended Consequences"

    The EFF has a white paper out this month by attorney Fred von Lohmann ("Unintended Consequences, Three Years Under The DMCA") examining the impact of the DMCA and its anti-circumvention provisions. (The links to the EFF home page and the .pdf of the white paper are not working for me at the moment, but the Google html version is here.) Using real world examples of disputes arising under the DMCA, the report makes the case for how the legislation "chills free expression and scientific research," "jeapardizes fair use," and "impedes competition and innovation." It also observes,
    "As an increasing number of copyright works are wrapped in technological protection measures, it is likely that the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions will be applied in further unforeseen contexts, hindering the legitimate activities of innovators, researchers, the press, and the public at large."
    Those who contemplate the banning of Magic Markers, or of writing about them - like Newsforge - emphasize just how unintended and absurd potential applications of the law could get. The white paper is a thoughtful round-up and analysis of DMCA cases, well worth the read. [Via]

    Tuesday, May 28, 2002

    Fine Distinctions, Fantastic Parody

    Cory Doctorow elaborates on some of the thought processes behind the EFF's roaringly funny Flash video aimed at encouraging action about the CBDTPA, "Tinseltown Club." "[W]e actually had to go back to the drawing board once or twice and make this more like Disney's own song and iconography, otherwise, the parodical link wouldn't be clear enough," writes Cory. Oh, it's clear. I won't be able to hear those letters intoned again without Annette's voice sing-songing them in my head! --Wednesday, via Scripting News and Philip Bump:

    Now That's A Client

    Scott Harris, incoming counsel to the Supreme Court. [Via]

    High Court Broadens Scope Of Potential Patent Infringements

    In a unanimous decision authored by Justice Kennedy, the U.S. Supreme Court today made it easier to demonstrate patent infringement by holding the "doctrine of equivalents" may properly apply to claims modified during the application process.
    "In the decision now under review the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that by narrowing a claim to obtain a patent, the patentee surrenders all equivalents to the amended claim element. ... There are some cases, however, where the amendment cannot reasonably be viewed as surrendering a particular equivalent. The equivalent may have been unforeseeable at the time of the application; the rationale underlying the amendment may bear no more than a tangential relation to the equivalent in question; or there may be some other reason suggesting that the patentee could not reasonably be expected to have described the insubstantial substitute in question. In those cases the patentee can overcome the presumption that prosecution history estoppel bars a finding of equivalence."
    The prinicples involved in Festo Corp. v. Shoketsu Kinzoku Kogyo Kabushiki Co., Ltd. are dense and procedural, but the bottom line of today's decision is that non-identical copies of a patented device are viable infringement targets, even where (as is commonly the case) the patent claim was amended during the give and take between the applicant and the USPTO leading up to the patent's issuance. The Federal Circuit's prior opinion, now vacated, had curtailed such claims. Related links: Opinion (.pdf, via the Court) Opinion (html, via FindLaw) Stories from Reuters, The Nando Times, CNN, Newsday (from January; good discussion of broader implications of the case) (Eagle-eyed Katie blogged the reversal.) --Later: more from Howard and Stephan.

    John Hiler's Personal Waterloo

    Blogosphere: the emerging Media Ecosystem. [Via Glenn Reynolds] Symbiosis, grassroots, collaboration and the global coffeehouse. Grab an espresso and settle in.

    Better Brief Access

    Since April 9, 2002, the Michigan Supreme Court has been posting copies of the briefs in its cases in .pdf form, on its Schedule of Oral Arguments page. [Via yclipse, the people behind the useful Courts.Net] This is a big step forward from what we currently have in California - offline brief depositories, or reliance on third parties for Web access to briefs.

    Monday, May 27, 2002

    Another Reason To Love Google

    Aside from all the obvious ones? The lava lamps.

    Racing Tech

    This discusses that *other* league (CART), but involves Paul Newman so is ok by me. [Josh Lawrence for The Screen Savers] More here. [Jacob Dalton for The Tech_ Of] It's incredible what the crews know about the cars they fly around the track, and what happens in race cars happens later in the cars we slug around the freeways - from the aerodynamics to the telemetry. So, you can consider these articles sort of an oracle into the future of your Omni.

    Rupaul and Me

    And so ends my brief but happy sojourn as a Blog of Note on Blogger - probably the first and last time I'll share a distinction with Rupaul. Yesterday, Rupaul reprinted a letter from Courtney Love to Prince (sorry, my keyboard doesn't know how to render his actual name), seeking artist support for "the idea that recording artists need an organization that represents our interests in Washington and with the record companies." Courtney's letter makes some excellent points about the under-representation of artists, and the conflicts of interest that may dog their attorneys and managers. She writes, "Artists have all the power. They create the music that makes the money that funds the business. No one has ever harnessed that power for artists' collective good," and compares their situation today with that of actors in the early 20th century in the heyday of the studio system. Rupaul doesn't seem to have permalinks, so get over there quick before this one slides into the land of the misfit archives. I also note Ru and I started blogging about the same time. But he's got much better legs.

    Technology Review's "TR 100"

    The June issue of MIT's Technolgy Review features 100 young innovators, "visitors from the future, living among us here and now," including several Googlers and a CmdrTaco. The article (.pdf), an industry specific index and an annotated link list (nice) are available here.

    Sunday, May 26, 2002

    Disappointing? No Way!

    Sarah Fisher's second-place finish in Homestead, Fla., last year was the top showing by a woman in Indy-car history. She earned two top-10 finishes and pushed her career earnings to more than $1 million. [Via CNNSI]
    Sarah's (unofficial) 24th place finish in the Indianapolis 500 today may have disappointed her, but it marks her first running finish at Indy (she wrecked the last two years), and that in itself deserves great respect. This is perhaps the world's most demanding sport, which I started following some years back when we had a friend driving in the IRL. The planetary, financial, legal and technological convergences it takes to qualify and finish at Indy are mind-blowing for anyone, and overcoming the gender gap to boot? Well, my hat's off to Sarah. She is likely to take home some $250,000 or more for today's efforts (see last year's results and winnings) - the approximate cost of two of the engines these cars consume almost as voraciously as tires. Sarah also has the soul of a blogger, as shown in her online diaries for ABC Sports. For more on women drivers at Indy, sashay over here (2002), here (2002) and here (2000). And let's not forget Arie Luyendyk, who at 49 this year is the oldest driver ever to qualify for the race (more here). Arie (unofficially) finished 14th today. The other driver I was pulling for was Eddie Cheever, who had a run at it but then fell back when it looked like something went south with his car. A wreck in the final laps brought things to an anticlimactic and controversial end under a yellow flag, enabling defending champion Helio Castroneves to win and do his signature celebratory fence scramble. [Full coverage via USA Today and The Nando Times] But for the caution, Castroneves would not have crossed the finish with a running engine; the car was so low on fuel his pit crew told ABC it only would have survived half of another green lap.

    Ladies And Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

    Today is Indy 500 Day - vrrrooom! I never expected to like Indy racing so much, but that was several years ago, before the husband started calling me "Stopwatch." Watching those cars fly around a one mile oval in less than twenty seconds is transformative (this is a longer track, but no less breathtaking). Sarah Fisher's starting in the ninth position and I'm counting on her not to find the wall in turn two. Looks like they have gorgeous weather today in Indy. "Drivers to your cars," was just announced, so I'm off to watch the coverage. Don't miss the live timing and scoring here.

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