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Saturday, October 25, 2003

Open Thread On Blawging

I know I should have posted this on Friday to hopefully get it read by two or three of my ten loyal readers (who all have much better things to do on the weekend), but Work Happens, so here we are. On Monday I'm scheduled to speak to our L.A. office associates about sundry stuff, including weblog authoring. I'll probably post something incredibly eloquent and insightful here during the talk for demo purposes. Since I'll be emphasizing the interactivity this medium offers and the many ways this can enhance professional development and client service, I'd love to hear from you in the comments. If you could talk to a roomful of eager (well, at least half awake) young lawyers about weblogs, what pearls of wisdom would you cast their way? Try to keep the invective to a minimum...

Jungle Law

C.E. Petit sums up the dispute between Caterpillar and Disney concerning cameo appearances of the Cat's trademark in George of the Jungle 2: "[T]hey can't seem to see the deforestation for the dead trees."

That Sound You Just Heard Was The Other Shoe Dropping

Eugene Volokh posts the Authors Guild email to its members of yesterday's date, regarding Amazon's new Search Inside The Book service. A must read. Regardless of what the specific publishing contracts may provide, it's clear the Guild is philosophically opposed to the idea—even though Amazon is making only limited portions of the books available to individual users, in a format that does not readily lend itself to digital copying and reuse. Says Ernest Miller: "One thing is certain, however. Publishing house lawyers are already drafting language for the standard contracts that will ensure publishers have the right to do this for all future works." Note too the Guild recommends that authors delink their sites from Amazon because it disapproves of the site's Used Books service.

Commerce, Research, Ego

Amazon's new Search Inside feature—which allows you to full-text search some 33 million pages from 120,000 books in the Amazon catalog (and, "We plan to widely expand our Search Inside the Book offering and continue to make more books available to you")—struck me first as a super way to shop for books. Then it hit me what a nifty, free research tool this potentially is (see the Search Inside results included in searches for "trespass to chattels;" "work for hire;" "internet jurisdiction; "DMCA;" "digital rights management."). Finally, of course, there were the samoyeds (not me, though we had one when I was little).

Today's New Blawg (And A Bonus)

Elaine Cassel writes Civil Liberties Watch [via], keeping an eye on "The War At Home." Elaine is casting a wide net, blogging about "the physical autonomy of a woman's body," "Web sites on the terrorist watch list," various civil liberties issues on deck in the Supreme Court's current term, and much more. Elaine sounds like a firebrand, I'd love to meet her some time.

Speaking of women whose company you'd be well advised to keep, a big welcome to "a celebration of women's contributions to computing; a place to spotlight women's contributions as well as point out new opportunities and challenges for women in the computing field."

Friday, October 24, 2003

Today's New Blawg

Dispositive is written by a law student somewhere north of Manhattan [via], who ably identifies one of the high ironies of law school:

After you learn to determine the economic theory or public policy which the professor assures you lies just underneath the surface of every case (if you look just a little harder. . .), exams come. And exams only test you on the rules you stopped looking for because your professor didn't seem to think they were very soundly reasoned anyway.

As for making "the process more open and less shrouded in mystery" (see the end of that post), my sense is Dispositive's author is on the right track.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

The Internet Tax Non-Discrimination Act and VoIP

The Cox-Wyden Internet Tax Non-Discrimination Act passed the House last month, and will go before the Senate as early as next week. As c | net reports today ("Senate to ponder permanent Net access tax ban"), this could be more good news for the VoIP industry: "In a nutshell, information services and telecommunications services are beginning to look alike, leaving many parties trying to figure out the benefits and consequences of an unregulated Internet." Kevin Werbach, former Counsel for New Technology Policy at the FCC, has an informative post analyzing the VoIP-related issues confronting the FCC. A sample:

If the legal requirements change when an end user swaps a computing device labeled "phone" for one labeled "computer," the rules will fail. The real issue here is that basic voice service is going to be deregulated. There is no way to put the VOIP genie back into the bottle without destroying it.

"It's Super-Fabulous, Would You Like Some Shiraz?"

Eek! I don't know if my doctor would approve of my laughing this hard in the 33rd week. Have you seen the Metrosexual episode of South Park?

Can't We Just Make All Of It A Felony?

AP: "The 'Can Spam' bill, approved Wednesday by a 97-0 [Senate] vote, would outlaw the shadiest techniques used by many of the Internet's most prolific e-mailers, who pump out millions of unsolicited messages daily." Via The Screen Savers, who also point out that this bill, if passed, may supersede more stringent state spam laws already in place.

Big, Big, BIG

A Little Like Audblog. But Softer.

In case you didn't know, you can put audio posts on your Blogger blog in MP3 format. (An example, from Jason Shellen. Audblog works with many other blogging tools too.) Similar deal, less public: according to mail I got last night, you can also send MP3 voice recordings to any email address using Infone (this new feature does not seem to be listed on the Infone site yet; I couldn't find it anyway). Cool idea. Do you really *need* to leave voice messages in people's email? Probably not. Could it be fun/useful? Sure. (Truth be told, this reminds me a bit of how excited I got years ago—must've been '95—upon discovering you could embed little recorded comments into Word documents. Visions of audio editing danced in my head. I think I used it twice.)

I signed up for Infone about a month ago, falling prey to the aggressive TV ad campaign they were running at the time. (Not the one with James Carville in his underwear, thank goodness.) It's a pretty nice service to have available in a pinch, with a free trial period and pay as you go pricing after that (so it costs nothing unless you use it). I didn't fully appreciate it until the night I got a panicked phone call from my husband, relaying a panicked phone call from a neighbor. One of our pipes had burst—flooding, joy. It was a Saturday night. Not so easy to find emergency plumbing services under those circumstances, but with Infone, it was. One $.89 call (actually, it didn't even cost that; I'm still in the free trial) produced a handful of local referrals and a competent guy with a big wrench within about an hour. Me gusta. The Infone FAQ page also is well worth a visit. Ahem:

What is a 10-10 number?
Who cares?

Today's New Blawg

A number of firey-eyed and feisty blawgers (all law students, if I'm not mistaken?) are now sitting En Banc. I really like the group blog format for law types. It's a little like the talk show format, but they get to take the discussion anywhere they want and the "cameras" are on all the time. It also lets them cover lots of material and bring diverse perspectives to bear, but as Greg Goelzhauser is quick to point out, "I'm not sure the 8 of us combined could be as productive as [Howard Bashman]."

In other blawgy news (and speaking of Howard):

Please don't let 20 Questions die!

[U]nless I receive a volunteer by Friday, October 31, 2003, there will be no December 2003 installment, and the January 2004 interview with Chief Judge Tacha of the Tenth Circuit will mark the end of the "20 questions for the appellate judge" feature.

To volunteer, a federal or state court appellate judge need merely send me an email by clicking here. Since this Web log was launched in May 2002, it has received more than 2.2 million visits, and regular readers include state and federal appellate and trial court judges from throughout the United States and the world, attorneys, law professors, law students, staffers who work in the White House and at the U.S. Senate, and plenty of others readers located in the United States and throughout the world. I don't believe there is any other outlet that will allow a federal or state appellate judge to communicate to this extent in his or her own words to such a sophisticated and diverse audience.

20 Questions is narrowcasting with a broad appeal (uh, no pun intended). There are so few opportunities for the public and the profession to learn more about the people comprising the appellate judiciary. Howard has done a fantastic job of giving these folks an accessible voice. Please spread the word, and help 20 Questions continue.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Whose Standard Is It, Anyway?

Dan Farber's* article on Federated identity, PingID and standards cartels provides a good overview of some of the standards issues and discussions from Digital ID World last week, and highlights the efforts of PingID, which Farber says "takes its cue from a well-known and successful networked partner infrastructure: the ATM banking system." I'm still intrigued by the excellent question posed by Cory Doctorow during Phil Windley's primer on the developing standards: how are the intellectual property implications of the standards being dealt with on the front end, and if they're not, do people understand what this can mean? John Udell is wondering the same thing. You would think something is pretty bleeding edge if no one has yet figured out who will own it, but cue Phil again: he's wondering why digital identity is not an emerging technology.

*That's Dan, far right.

[Update] PingID's Bryan Field-Elliot has some thoughts.

Today's New Blawg

Michael Lowe is a criminal defense attorney in Dallas, TX, and writes Dallas Lawyer. Michael does a good deal of expunction work (see Texas Expunction of Criminal Records):

Upon the petition of a criminal defendant, a court can direct certain law enforcement agencies to destroy all records associated with an arrest and subsequent prosecution. Many times the court will specifically direct law enforcement agencies to destroy jail records, police reports, prosecution reports and court files. In addition, a successful expungement petitioner, can legally deny ever having been arrested for or charged with the criminal offense for which he is receiving the expunction.

This process was a new one on me. Thanks Michael, for the enlightenment, and I hope you keep blogging in connection with your practice.

[Feel free to insert Bush joke of your choice here.]

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Another Assault On The Gene Pool

Congratulations!! to Heather at Held In Contempt, proud new mommy-blawger.

Perennial Dilemma
(Baby gear with a sense of humor: "Mommy, when I count the sheep do I include the clones?")

Call Your Mother!

Recipe for keeping the kid's grandmothers-to-be happy:

  • Take one Mac running OS X and the current versions of iSync and iCal.
  • Create an iCal "Birthdays" calendar, with alarms, listing all those occasions the forgetting of which will have you paying in blood for years to come.
  • Fold in one Bluetooth enabled phone (make sure it's one with calendar support).
  • Sync lightly for 1-2 minutes.

And Voilà! You have a phone that reminds you to call your mother on her birthday (and reminds you to shop, if you set the alarm far enough in advance and/or add a "to do" item).

Caveat: my own mother was appalled at the suggestion I might actually require such a reminder. May my careless indiscretion help you avoid such pitfalls. (Hopefully, the business utility of such a system isn't lost on you either...)

Today's New Blawg

Andis Kaulins is a busy man. He's a lecturer at the University of Trier Law School in Germany, and "the Best in the World – Ever" at decipherment of ancient records. I'm also a fan of his photo/bio pages. Andis writes LawPundit ("Law is a Seamless Web"):

Did you know? The father of "markup languages" Charles F. Goldfarb, was a graduate of Harvard Law School. No wonder the web works. The dynamic field of law, always populated by many gifted multi-talented generalists, is a kind of "living" seamless web. It is a web which continues to expand and grow in the internet age on the World Wide Web (WWW). The increasing number of blogs related to law as a discipline are a part of this development. One court is already using a blog to improve its flow of information. See Rory Perry's Weblog.

Welcome, Andis! (Should you ever be passing through southern California, I'm about to embark on some serious closet cleaning and there are some ancient artifacts that could require your attention.)

Monday, October 20, 2003

Waiving The Broadcast Flag

Please see Donna Wentworth, Cory Doctorow, EFF, and Digital Consumer on the broadcast flag proposal currently pending before the FCC. Then see Senator Ernest F. Hollings' request that the FCC act "absent legislation" to implement the broadcast flag. Then see Leo Laporte's comment, "Even Microsoft is against this one." Then do what comes naturally.

Showerhead Triangulation

For diverse perspectives on what sounds like one of the world's most eclectic conferences, check out:

More Googleiciousness

Gary Price has useful Google tips [via Genie Tyburski], and so does PC Magazine [via KERBlog].


Rick Klau is just back from Burlington, VT and has three great posts summing up the experience: "Is it possible that included among those who are underestimating the Dean campaign is... the Dean campaign? :)"

Define Convenient

If you've already been using Google as a dictionary, you'll be pleased to know it now is designed to work that way. Works swell with legal terms too, and the "more definitions" link lets you triangulate. [Via Evan Williams]

Today's New Blawg

Andrew McLaughlin, Harvard law professor and senior Berkman fellow [via Donna and Dave], provides a detailed analysis of the recent Minnesota VoIP decision:

So how can Judge Davis conclude that Vonage is not an phone-to-phone IP telephony provider?  His opinion is less than crystal clear, but the answer appears to center on the fact that the Vonage system provides computer-to-computer or computer-to-phone service (keeping in mind that the Cisco box that sits between the customer's broadband connection and her telephone is a computer), but never phone-to-phone. ...

Stressing that information services can legitimately be deployed on top of telecommunications infrastructure without being pulled into the orbit of telecommunications regulations, Judge Davis finds that Vonage uses telecommunications services, but does not provide them. ...

In my judgment, this a fantastic victory for the Internet, and a hugely significant precedent.

Also weighing in on the Minnesota decision is Doug Simpson, who wonders whether c | net was correct in suggesting a conflict between the case and the 9th Circuit's recent Brand X decision. JD Lasica offers an enthusiastic response concerning his experiences with Vonage competitor Packet 8. (See also Cringely's Inc. column.)

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Finding Fishrush

Hot damn, the Fishman cometh.

Today's New Blawg

Grant Perry is a former CNN correspondent, lawyer, and media consultant in Washington, DC, and writes Political Winds [via Bob Ambrogi, who met Grant at BloggerCon]:

Utopian visions aside, there was an enormous amount of useful, and yes, exciting, discussion [at BloggerCon]. There was a considerable amount of talk about how blogging is and will affect journalism and mainstream media. There is no question that blogs have already had an impact, certainly in terms of stories that swirl around the blogosphere before percolating "up" to the mainstream news organizations. And that's coming from a tiny percentage of the general population. When blogs become a form of mainstream media, their power will be manifest. I thought Doc Searls put it well when he said, "What Web logs have done is equip the demand side of journalism. We've had enough equipment on the supply side."

Speaking of Bob Ambrogi, congratulations to Sabrina Pacifici and LLRX for their well-deserved spot on his list of Ten Best Legal Sites of the Decade. Bob also has a current article on the future of legal technology featuring insights from many of your favorite blawgers.

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