‘Read me some Camus to cheer me up.’ — Hayley Franklin, 3, after hearing new birthday song.
Ever notice that movies and TV shows go out of their way never to sing “Happy Birthday To You” on-screen? Well that’s because Time Warner owns the copyright and rides that cash cow to the tune (hah!) of $2 million every year. Every unauthorized rendition of the song is technically worth $700 in royalties payable to Time Warner.
Time Warner’s zealous enforcement has even raised concerns that YouTube may have to take down videos of kiddie parties singing the song.
How can we break Time Warner’s stranglehold over our annual celebration of our own impending mortality? A New Jersey radio station (WFMU) decided to write a new song to replace “Happy Birthday To You” and brought in Harvard professor Larry Lessig to judge the competition.
A video of the new song that you’ll come to love appears after the jump. And by love I mean, “listen to, laugh, and hope to purge from your memory”….
* Sorry, I don’t like bike dudes; so many cyclists are rude, irresponsible, and annoying, to both pedestrians and drivers. If I were king, they’d go to prison; but I’m not, so we’ll have to settle for reeducation. [New York Times]
* What does Bruce Springsteen think of Obamacare? [Althouse]
* A few jurisdictions have laws against “attractiveness discrimination.” Try to guess which ones, then click on the link to see if you’re right. [What About Clients?]
* Larry Lessig and Ilya Shapiro debate the value of disclosure requirements in the campaign finance context. [Lean Forward / MSNBC]
As we were planning Above the Law’s Elena Kagan confirmation coverage, we got to thinking (always a dangerous thing around these parts): What if Supreme Court nominees didn’t have to defend themselves to the American public? What if the U.S. Senate’s constitutional privilege of “advice and consent” was revoked? What would the Court look like if the nominees didn’t have to even pretend to be moderate?
It’s a thought experiment that we’re sure has been done countless times before. But we’ve never done it, so we’ll plunge ahead.
Here are the rules: (1) The nominee should be unconfirmable. (2) The nominees on the right should make Elie angry; the nominees on the left should make Lat uncomfortable. (3) Mealy-mouthed moderates need not apply.
We decided to keep the five-four ideological balance of the current Court. Sure, we know that some people think that without the Senate, Presidents would nominate apolitical justices who have no discernible political slant. Sadly, apolitical justices = yawn.
In this post, Elie picks four pinko commie scumbags. In a future post, Lat will select five right-wing fascist nutjobs. Should be fun…
So, who are the SCOTUS nominees in the administration of President Elie Mystal?
Renowned legal scholar Lawrence Lessig has been appointed to the faculty of Harvard Law School, and as the faculty director of Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics. The announcement was made jointly today (Dec. 12) by Harvard University Provost Steven E. Hyman and Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan.
Lessig — a widely acclaimed expert in constitutional law, cyberlaw, and intellectual property — comes to Harvard from the faculty of Stanford Law School. Prior to joining the Stanford faculty in 2000, he was on the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School and Harvard Law School.
Dean Kagan and HLS have been on a tremendous hiring spree. One source sums it up: “Can we get a list of who’s left — not counting federal judges like Posner, Easterbrook and Calabresi — that Kagan hasn’t scooped up in the last few years? Dworkin? Ackerman? Epstein?”
Says a second: “Dean Kagan is a juggernaut. In spite of losing about 25 percent of its endowment, Harvard is apparently not in a hiring freeze.”
More discussion, including words from Professor Lessig, after the jump.
Stanford law professor Larry Lessig had an editorial in the Wall Street Journal’s weekend edition, “In defense of piracy.” Lessig starts off hating on the lawyers who went after the mother in the dancing baby/YouTube/Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” case. (Background here.)
How is it that sensible people, people no doubt educated at some of the best universities and law schools in the country, would come to think it a sane use of corporate resources to threaten the mother of a dancing 13-month-old? What is it that allows these lawyers and executives to take a case like this seriously, to believe there’s some important social or corporate reason to deploy the federal scheme of regulation called copyright to stop the spread of these images and music?
The answer: Crazy copyright law.
Lessig goes on to defend others whose creativity is derived from others’ creativity, like Danger Mouse and mash-up artist Girl Talk, whose latest album samples from 300 different songs. No rights acquired.
Midway through, the editorial goes into “Braveheart” mode. There’s a war going on, says Lessig– the “copyright wars.” Kids these days are sharing copyrighted material through peer-to-peer networks, while the art world is embracing a rampant remix culture.
This war must end. It is time we recognize that we can’t kill this creativity. We can only criminalize it. We can’t stop our kids from using these tools to create, or make them passive. We can only drive it underground, or make them “pirates.” And the question we as a society must focus on is whether this is any good. Our kids live in an age of prohibition, where more and more of what seems to them to be ordinary behavior is against the law. They recognize it as against the law. They see themselves as “criminals.” They begin to get used to the idea.
That recognition is corrosive. It is corrupting of the very idea of the rule of law. And when we reckon the cost of this corruption, any losses of the content industry pale in comparison.
That’s heavy. Lessig’s suggestions for ending the war, saving our lawless kids, and encouraging creativity, after the jump.
A brief update on an earlier story. Last week, we mentioned that celebrity cyberlaw prof Larry Lessig, of Stanford Law School, was contemplating a congressional bid. His prospective campaign would be centered on the theme du jour of Change (in this case, of Congress).
Many ATL commenters didn’t think highly of the idea:
“He has NO chance against Jackie Speier.”
“He can’t exactly self-fund, and the primary is just over three months away. I like the fellow well enough, but this seems foolhardy.”
“Jackie Speier has this thing locked up. She has name recognition, prior elected experience, the endorsements of everyone who matters, party money, and a compelling story that involves getting shot several times by crazy people. Beat that.”
The stereotypical law professor might be viewed as too disengaged from the “real world” to be a good politician. But as Barack Obama shows, it’s quite possible to move from legal academia into political life.
Now another prominent young law prof — who, by the way, is an outspoken Obama supporter — is contemplating Congress. From a Stanford Law School source:
Larry Lessig is considering a congressional run to replace Tom Lantos. Seems to have sparked a lot of energy and attention here on campus and in the Silicon Valley the last day or two.
No discussion yet about what happens to his Con Law class if he decides to run.
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In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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