For many years I’ve been a huge fan of law professor James Grimmelmann. His legal analysis on various issues is often quite valuable, and I’ve quoted him more than a few times. However, he’s now arguing that the now infamous Facebook happiness experiment and the similarly discussed OkCupid “hook you up with someone you should hate” experiments weren’t just unethical, but illegal. Grimmelmann, it should be noted, was one of the loudest voices in arguing (quite vehemently) that these experiments were horrible and dangerous, and that the academic aspect of Facebook’s research violated long-standing rules.
We’ve written a few times in the past about how the entertainment industry’s woeful job of preserving and archiving old works has resulted in culture being lost – but also how unauthorized copies (the proverbial “damn dirty pirates”) have at least saved a few such treasures from complete destruction. There was, for example, the “lost” ending to one of the movie versions of Little Shop of Horrors that was saved thanks to someone uploading it to YouTube. Over in the UK, a lost episode of Dad’s Army was saved due to a private recording. However, Sherwin Siy points out that the very first Super Bowl — Super Bowl I, as they put it — was basically completely lost until a tape that a fan made showed up in someone’s attic in 2005. Except, that footage still hasn’t been made available, perhaps because of the NFL’s standard “we own everything” policy.
The notion that certain rights are guaranteed to citizens is being proven false every day. For instance, you have the First Amendment right to film police officers and other public officials, but it often takes an official policy change (usually prompted by lawsuits) before these public servants will begrudgingly respect that right.
We’ve already mentioned how a number of comments have been submitted concerning Australian Attorney General George Brandis’ Hollywood wishlist proposal for copyright reform in Australia. There are a number of interesting comments worth reading. I was pleasantly surprised to see the normally copyright-maximalist BSA come out against the proposal, saying that it will create a real risk of “over-enforcement, punishment of lawful conduct and blocking of lawful content including critically important free speech rights.” Dr. Rebecca Giblin, who has studied these issues and other attempts to put in place similar filters (and how they’ve failed), has also put forth a very interesting comment.
The most bizarre comment, however, has to come from Village Roadshow. Village Roadshow is the Australian movie studio that the US State Department admitted was used as the token “Australian” movie studio in the MPAA’s big lawsuit against iiNet. iiNet is the Australian ISP that the MPAA (with Village Roadshow appearing as “the local face”) sued for not waving a magic wand and stopping piracy. iiNet won its case at basically every stage of the game, and that big legal win is really at the heart of these new regulatory proposals. Apparently, Village Roadshow’s CEO still hasn’t gotten over the loss in the legal case.
Professor John Yoo, who deemed waterboarding wasn’t torture.
Among the many, many, many problems with running a torture program (beyond being morally problematic and with no history of effectiveness) is the fact that it makes it easier for others to justify torture programs as well. It’s now come out that ISIS has been waterboarding prisoners, including reporter James Foley whom they recently beheaded. Waterboarding, of course, was one of the CIA’s favorite torture techniques. And, of course, people had warned for years that having the CIA waterboard people would only encourage others to use the technique against Americans. Hell, even Senator Dianne Feinstein condemned waterboarding a few years ago, because it would lead others to do it against the US:
Image licensing giant Getty Images has quite a reputation for being something of a copyright maximalist and occasional copyright troll. The company has been known to blast out threat letters and lawsuits not unlike some more notorious copyright trolls. And that’s true even as the company just recently lost a copyright infringement suit in which Getty helped in the infringement. A few months ago, we had told you about Getty starting a new program in which it was making many of its images free to embed, saying that it was “better to compete” that way on the internet, rather than trying to license everything. We actually just tried embedding some Getty images ourselves recently.
The Supreme Court’s recent finding that warrantless cell phone searches are unconstitutional is already generating some pretty interesting arguments in ongoing cases. The government obviously wishes to mitigate the “damage” done by this decision by still doggedly pursuing data through warrantless methods.
In this particular case, the government is arguing that it has every right to access cell site location information (CSLI) without a warrant, claiming that the Riley decision solely pertains to the contents of cell phones. Obtaining CSLI without a warrant is still Constitutionally-dubious, however. One state court and a federal court have held that this information should only be obtained with a warrant. In the prior case, it was found that the state’s Constitution provided more protection than the US Constitution and in the latter, the finding was very narrowly tailoredto the case at hand, making it very difficult to apply to others cases, even under the same jurisdiction.
What is it with insane NY-related bureaucrats and their attempts to “own” things? In the past, we’ve covered how New York State is a pretty big trademark bully over the “I ♥ NY” phrase, and did you know that the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) claims ownership over the phrase “If you see something, say something”? And, now, we find out that the controversy-ridden Port Authority of NY and NJ appears to be claiming ownership of the NYC skyline. No joke. It apparently sent a cease-and-desist letter to Fishs Eddy, a housewares store in Manhattan that is selling some city themed dishes.
For years — since before he was NY State’s governor — we’ve raised questions about Andrew Cuomo’s activities. When he was Attorney General, he often used that position to grandstand around various issues that sounded good politically, but were real world disasters. He browbeat ISPs into policing the internet, when they had no legal obligation to, with bogus threats of lawsuits — even pushing them to install spyware to snoop on everyone’s traffic. He was among the leaders of the group of Attorneys General who wanted to blame high-profile internet companies for the way consumers used them, and he tried to broker a “3 strikes” system to kick file sharers offline. Since becoming governor, he’s been embroiled in a bunch of scandals, including having staffers use private email accounts to hide their work from Freedom of Information laws.
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