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Archive for December, 2007

Read this.  If Sirota is right, and if Huck and Edwards could consolidate support around a position of economic populism and health care reform, candidate Huckawards would have something like 50% of the electorate… at a time when there are still ten other candidates in the race.

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Courtesy of Dahlia Lithwick at Slate:

4. Nine U.S. attorneys were fired by nobody, but for good reason.

Of course, the great legal story of 2007 was the unprecedented firing of nine U.S. attorneys who either declined to prosecute Democrats or were too successful in prosecuting Republicans. After months of congressional hearings, subpoenas, and investigations, the mastermind behind the plan to replace these prosecutors with “loyal Bushies” has yet to be determined.

It’s depressing, but you should go read the whole thing.

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There is an article up at the NYT today about the RIAA lawsuit that is currently pending against 17 John Doe defendants at the University of Oregon.  The article is relatively even-handed as these things go, hitting the typical applause lines for each side: college students don’t respect copyright, stealing music is bad, settlement offers from the record companies are extortion, etc etc etc.  Adam Liptak also does a fair job of pointing out that this suit is interesting primarily because the state attorney general’s office is involved, and the same point gets a plug over at the NYT Law blog.

But while the article contains several quotes sourced to RIAA capo Cary Sherman, he doesn’t bother to quote anyone who is, you know, actually FROM Oregon.  (more…)

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If I was the record industry, I’d be very worried.  The last time Groklaw started paying attention to frivolous lawsuits about imaginary copyright infringement, the people who picked the fight ended up dead.

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(updated 10:17 pm- slashdot says that the WaPo story I quote below is, um, misleading.  Or maybe it’s  just wrong.  Hooray for traditional journalism.)
The RIAA is breaking out a new legal tactic:

In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

The industry’s lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are “unauthorized copies” of copyrighted recordings.

This particular claim is a perfect illustration of the evils inherent in government-granted monopolies. People in general have settled expectations about personal property that are inconsistent with the desired economic scenario for the copyright cartels. When you buy a CD or a book, you don’t sign a contract. You don’t need to get a license from the author to read the book. The purchase transaction is exactly like any other purchase of physical goods. From a customer’s perspective, buying a CD is exactly like buying a donut or a chainsaw. Customers expect that all the rights of ownerhship which attach to other tangible personal property also attach to items like CDs.

The copyright monopoly has metastasized so far that music companies are, in effect, arguing that even though you bought the CD, you can only listen to the music on it on devices they have approved. At the exact same time that companies all over the world are designing and producing technology to allow people to more easily create and share music, movices, and the written word, the companies that stand to benefit the most from emergence of new talent are doing everything they can to poison the well.

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From Ray Beckerman’s place:

 In a fascinating interview with Jon Newton of p2pnet, Prof. Deirdre Smith of the University of Maine Law School’s Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic, which is the first law school legal clinic in the U.S. to have taken on the RIAA, says that “our students are enthusiastic about being directly connected to a case with a national scope and significance”.

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Looks like Antigua has won its bid to have the World Trade Organization rule that the US laws against online casinos are an unlawful restraint on trade.  Howard Knopf posted a thorough write-up at his blog, excess copyright.  And as everyone seems to have recognized, the real question now is how that $21 million per year offset will be calculated.  It seems highly unlikely that Antigua will use the US figure for statutory damages in copyright infringement to calcluate the value of a reproduction; as everyone except the RIAA clearly understands, $750 per infringing copy is far too high.  If Antigua uses the market value of a song on iTunes to set the value of an infringing work, $21 million works out to about three hundred free songs per year for every person who lives on the islands.

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