So it's official. I'm headed to EFF to become one of their staff IP attorneys, starting in June. It's a pretty exciting opportunity, especiallly in light of the recent Grokster ruling. Hopefully, I'll get to work on the appeal defense as well as the various DMCA cases around the country. I'm primarily going to be a litigator, but I suspect there will also be opportunties to help participate in the legislative process and other public policy and quasi-public policy activities.
At the same time that we're excited about this opportunity, it is a bit bittersweet. I've really enjoyed working at Fish & Richardson and have found several of the lawyers here to be among the small subset that are smart, funny, hard working, and yet still humane. I'm really hoping that I'll get to work as co-counsel with them on future EFF cases.
That's all for now. Tara and I are going out tonight for sushi to celebrate! If you want to know more, email away...
:: Jason 3:33:00 PM [+] ::
Central District Trial Court Rules In Favor of File Swappers Grokster & Streamcast
Judge Steven Wilson of the C.D. Cal. has just issued a summary judgment order in favor of the file swapping companies and against the Movie and Music companies.
Bottom line: Distributing software that can be used to infringe copyrights isn't illegal. Unless you can actively control your user base, you aren't responsible for their actions.
:: Jason 11:50:00 AM [+] ::
:: Thursday, April 24, 2003 ::
Every Unhappy Family Has Its Own Bilinear Influence Function
The Chronicle of Higher Education has a great article on the scientific study of couples who argue and what characteristics predict stable and long-lasting relationships. Here's an interesting snip:
Dave: "We got to keep the communication lines open, we got to try to figure out how we can work on it. Some bills we got we can't pay off."
Angie: "The bills aren't the issue."
Dave: "Usually it's how can I try to please you and how you"
Angie: "No, I can please myself. I get happiness from my job, I get happiness from work, I get happiness from you, but I feel stifled ..."
In the last 24 years, Mr. Gottman and his colleagues have recorded thousands of such conversations, using careful techniques to measure and notate the participants' emotions each step of the way. After Angie and Dave's talk, Mr. Gottman says, his assistants reviewed a videotape, scoring each sentence and facial expression on such measures as disgust (-3), affection (+4), whining (-1), and contempt (-4). (Angie's grimace as she said "The bills aren't the issue" was scored as contempt.)
The Anti-Harsh Intellectual Property Rights Law Action Alliance is protesting new IP laws in Taiwan that would allow the government to prosecute copying CDs for friends, purchasing books from abroad for friends, or saving factual information from the Internet on one's computer, even if no complaint or lawsuit is filed.
No doubt these laws are a result of pressure from the U.S. Trade Representative.
:: Jason 8:53:00 AM [+] ::
:: Monday, April 21, 2003 ::
Smoking Gun Posts CNN's Template for Cheney Obit
Opps! CNN accidentially posted its pre-fabbed obits for Dick Cheney and other famous world leaders. And they say only the winners get to write history.
:: Jason 3:16:00 PM [+] ::
The Ethics of Tipping: Why Record Companies Would Have Still Made Money Under Napster
Russell Roberts has an interesting essay in the Library of Economics and Liberty about the economics of Napster. In it, he argues that Napster would have helped improve innovation, quality, and competition in the online music market without driving the RIAA out of business. He argues two points:
First, he notes that people do not always choose something that is free over something that costs money. As an example, he points to tipping in restaurants. None of us are required to tip our servers. In fact, we could go through life only paying exactly what the bill is. Why do we tip? Social norms. Society has come to expect that we will pay more than we owe in these situations even though we could "steal" our service at every meal. Moreover, tipping has increased over the years with the cost of living, now averaging around 20% of the bill. Hardly the trend the RIAA analysis would leave you to expect.
Second, Roberts makes an interesting argument that allowing "theft" of music (which I do not agree is what Napster allowed, fyi) would actually improve the market for digital downloading instead of killing it. He points out that when car stereos were being stolen by theives at will in the 1980s and 1990s, police tried to enforce theft laws but were unable to keep up with the number of thefts because theives had become so efficient. So in response, car stereo makers were forced to innovate. First, they designed pull-out stereos. Then pull-off face plates. Then eventually, stereos that stopped working if they were removed without a proper electronic key. Today, Roberts argues, car stereo theft is almost non-existant in cars with these new technologies. If Napster and other file-sharing systems were allowed to continue, the RIAA would be forced to innovate and compete in the market with new products that successfully and efficiently distributed their content.