Monthly Archives: June 2003

it is the recording INDUSTRY association

A great petition of artists is speaking back at the RIAA. Congratulations. Continue reading

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weaving the dean into the front

I’ve had so many exchanges in email and offline about the role the Internet is playing in this election, and I continue to be struck by the will of many to believe that it matters not at all.

But let’s remember this: We’re about to see an amazing shift in passion and attention in this Democratic Primary. To those who insist the Internet matters not at all, what explains this?

The issue is not how many people you have on your mailing list; the issue is how many are writing and persuading and building a community around your candidacy. One candidate has done that bettter than anyone else. Congratulations, Governor. Whether or not this is how campaigns should be run, it is exactly how elections should be won. Continue reading

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another supreme court with another good decision

The California Supreme Court has decided that Hamidi did not trespass when he emailed complaints about Intel to Intel employees. Continue reading

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It was an extraordinary week last week at the Supreme Court. Most of the press has focused on the Michigan affirmative action cases, which were of course important, and rightly decided. But I continue to be struck by the profoundly important decision in the Lawrence case, which found it beyond the government’s power to regulate the private, consensual sexual behavior of adults.

There will be gaggles of law review articles written about this, and lots of speculation about the continued life of privacy jurisprudence. But I was struck by a more tangible reaction to the decision that says a great deal about how it feels to those it affects.

We’re living in the Castro in San Francisco while renovations on our house are completed. As anyone who has driven through this neighborhood knows, at Market and Castro there is a huge Gay Pride flag that flies every day of the year. Huge — maybe the largest flag I have ever seen.

I was out of town on the day of the decision. But I am told that the day after Lawrence was decided, the Gay Pride flag came down. An American flag was raised in its place.

It was an extraordinary moment that said more about the importance of this decision than any commentary ever could. Continue reading

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the day in DC

It was a great day in DC.

Public Knowledge had arranged the meetings, with members and their staff from both sides of Congress, and both sides of the isle. We met with the staffs of Senators Cantwell, McCain and Leahy, then met with Congressman Cannon and Boucher. And — at her request — we met with Congresswoman Bono.

It was a strongly positive meeting with everyone, though of course Congresswoman Bono started most skeptically. By the end, however, she demonstrated a genuine openness to the issue, and a willingness to consider the proposal. It is of course very easy to demonize the otherside. But after listening to her talk about both this and the Sonny Bono Act, her motivations seemed quite genuinely to be about securing to artists continued reward from creativity. Not a bad motivation, all things considered, if we can balance it with protection of the public domain.

Others began closer to where we were, and so we ended even closer to where we wanted them to be. Congressman Boucher agreed to join as a sponsor — so at least three good souls in DC.

The best part, of course, was Congresswoman Lofgren’s press conference, announcing the bill that she and Congressman Doolittle will introduce, and explaining the reasons. She gets it, and she is powerful and right in her explanation. We owe her a great deal.

Indeed, I had that thought about everyone we met today. This was a strange day of feeling Congress sometimes somehow might work. It’s very early, and we have yet to weather the criticism and opposition. And of course, if money lines on this one, we will not prevail. But every, from Members to staff, took this as seriously as anyone could hope. Let’s see what happens.

One point was clear however: The work of the petition was extremely important. At least one Member indicated to me that he/she had been made aware of this issue by someone signing the petition. Another member indicated they had heard from people who had signed the petition. The more of this we can build, the more likely it is that we can build enough support to prevail.

Stay tuned for the next stages. But thanks to Public Knowledge, and the 15k+, who have helped carry this idea one step closer to reality. Continue reading

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blogs at college

Dave and the Berkman Center folks have been building a “user agreement for weblog hosting at Harvard Law, and a privacy policy. We hope it could become a template for other universities, schools, libraries, perhaps even businesses.” Comments and help invited. Continue reading

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very good news

I have just arrived in DC, where I was planning on meeting with staffers on the Hill tomorrow to drum up support for the Public Domain Enhancement Act. We’ve got CD’s of all 15k+ of the signatures on our Reclaim the Public Domain petition to hand out. It was going to be a fun day (as fun as any DC day gets) in DC.

But we’ve now learned that Congresswoman Lofgren (D-CA) and Congressman Doolittle (R-CA) have agreed to introduce the bill into Congress. We’re having an event at 1pm tomorrow at the Capitol to announce this first step on a long road to Reclaiming the Public Domain.

Count this as great news, and spread the word: there are two great souls on Capitol Hill. I’ll see if I can find some more. Continue reading

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fights among friends

“What you don’t understand, Lessig, is that your bullshit ‘open’ or ‘free’ types will never — NEVER — be able to compete with corporate organization. Squabbles-about-egos-pretending-to-be-about-the-merits can never be quashed. There is no one to say ‘enough, let’s move on.’ So every great idea that your type creates, we’ll just wait, watch, and then take. Always.” paraphrased from a conversation with someone from within one of the (how many are there?) largest proprietary code companies

Aaron has been trying to prove this skeptic wrong. See his plea and proposal here. I know from email early on that Dave too has the desire that progress be made. Let this be the proof that the skeptic is wrong. Continue reading

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a gift from the public domain

John Laurence Poole runs Editions Poole. Editions Poole publishes piano ensemble “repertoire, specializing in transcriptions and eight hand piano music.” As a 4th of July gift, Poole is giving away a free arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner composed by John Stafford Smith and arranged by Leopold Godowsky. In return, he is asking people to help free more music by signing the petition to Reclaim the Public Domain. See his offer posted to here.

Thanks, John! Continue reading

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“common sense revolts at the idea”

Phil Greenspun has a funny (as in sad) story about the market rising because the public domain is being transferred to corporations. The hook is (of course) the Sonny Bono Act (Free Culture!), but then Phil tells this bizarre story about how Disney World has apparently succeeded in getting the airspace above Disney World assigned to it. As Phil writes,

>Ever since the dawn of aviation it has been held that airspace belongs to the
>public and is to be regulated for the benefit of all by the FAA.� This is what, for
>example, prevents the owner of a farm in Missouri from demanding that Delta
>Airlines pay him a tax every time they fly over his farm.�

But there is a relevant pre-history here that is useful to remember. Before “the dawn of aviation,” in fact, the law was that the owner of a bit of land owned not just the land, but all the land to center of the earth, and, as Blackstone put it, “to an indefinite extent, upwards.” (See pg 18 here).

This, of course, created a problem once the history of aviation was born. For obviously, if I own all the space above my land, then companies like United are just napsterizing my property as they fly above my land.

The Supreme Court finally resolved this matter in 1946. The Causby’s, North Carolina farmers, complained because military aircraft were causing their chickens to fly in panic to their death as they smashed into the walls. The Causby’s claimed “trespass” and demanded the military stop flying over their land.

The Supreme Court rejected the argument that airplanes trespass. As Justice Douglas wrote for the Court,

>[The] doctrine has no place in the modern world. The air is a public highway,
>as Congress has declared. Were that not true, every transcontinental flight
>would subject the operator to countless trespass suits. Common sense revolts
>at the idea. To recognize such private claims to the airspace would clog these
>highways, seriously interfere with their control and development in the public
>interest, and transfer into private ownership that to which only the public has
> a just claim.

“Common sense revolts at the idea.”

Where’s a good “common sense revolt[]” when you need it? Continue reading

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