Jun 13, 2001

U.S. judge to hear Yahoo! case of French Nazi ban
Country Watch: France6/13/2001; 12:30:48 PM 'In a case with broad implications for free speech on the Internet, a U.S. federal judge has agreed to consider whether foreign courts may determine what Yahoo! Inc. sells on its auction site, a company spokesman said on Friday....'U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose on Thursday rejected a French request to throw out Yahoo!'s challenge to a French court order last year which sought to block Yahoo's auctions of Nazi items under broad French anti-hate speech laws.'Yahoo!'s objection is that France actually required Yahoo! to comply with French laws worldwide, thus they had to remove all Nazi materials from all Yahoo! sites, even those not in France. Contrast this with the previous news story...

Jun 12, 2001

Harm from the Hague
Misc.6/12/2001; 8:20:50 PM 'The Hague treaty is not actually about patents, or about copyrights, or about censorship, but it affects all of them. It is a treaty about jurisdiction, and how one country should treat the court decisions of another country. The basic idea is reasonable enough: If someone hits your car in France or breaks a contract with your French company, you can sue him in France, then bring the judgment to a court in whichever country he lives in (or has assets in) for enforcement.'The intersection of all activities not banned by patent, copyright, and censorship restrictions somewhere in the world is effectively a null set. It is not reasonable to assume that this tidbit of knowlege, obvious even to a computer nerd, has somehow consistently escaped the treaty writers. Thus, one must search for the motivation behind this treaty, because on the face of it, the whole idea is incredibly stupid and naive.Only two motivations seem to be in the running: Money (corporate interests) and power. Money does not seem likely to me; any company interested in using this to their advantage is just as likely to find themselves on the wrong end of a lawsuit in Nigeria or Egypt or Hong Kong or who knows where (perhaps "The Country That Always Finds In Favor Of The Prosecution, For A Small Price", recently formed off the coast of, oh, let's say France?). Then again, corporate interests are notoriously short-sighted... perhaps this is yet another example of a purchased law that will inevitable come back to haunt the purchasers.Still, I feel the only viable conclusion is that this treaty must be a power play by somebody, as it is equally obvious even to a computer nerd that all the courts in the world working 24 hours a day could not possibly service all the possible suits that could be filed should this go through. 100% enforcement is clearly not the intention. The whole point is going to be selective enforcement, which directly translates to power in the hands of whoever is doing the enforcing. (That's a powerful argument against proliferating laws, BTW; the power of selective enforcement tends to fly under the radar and remains undetected until it's in strafing range, but it's a very real power nonetheless.)Still, I can't think of a party that doesn't stand to lose as much as they might gain. Perhaps somebody can answer this for me: Who truly gains from this? The only answer I can think of is "the Third World" (giving them extensive powers over the courts of the rest of the world, notably the First World), but that's a vague answer and still doesn't explain why anybody else would sign this thing... who gains?(A truly paranoid answer: Only those countries with the maximal restrictions on speech, patents, or copyrights. For instance, Afghanistan. Afghanistan would be able to propogate its control far and wide. So, the people pushing for support of this treaty are those who want this control propogated, and are using this as a door to turn otherwise free countries into effective dictatorships in certain areas. It's paranoid, of course... but the thought has certainly crossed more then one mind.)

Jun 11, 2001

Microsoft Tries To Get Smart
Humor/Amusing6/11/2001; 7:40:10 PM 'Microsoft bashers were out in full-force last week, chastising the company for a new technology in the forthcoming version of its Windows operating system they say infringes on free speech, intellectual property and the copyrights of Web content creators.'What's it all about? Microsoft is considering adding a feature to Windows XP (link to Microsoft XP order info page), due out Oct. 25, that would take users to links predetermined by Microsoft (link to favorable article about Microsoft).'Few situations call for the injection of humor more then a ferocious debate about a proposed feature for an unreleased operating system that may or may not affect rights that we may or may not have.

Jun 11, 2001

Law Review Article Says Port Scanning Illegal
Misc.6/11/2001; 9:13:23 AM From Slashdot:

Anonymous Coward writes: "The Journal of Technology Law and Policy has a good article on computer security and privacy.... It's interesting to see the computer security from a lawyer's point of view. Especially interesting are his claims that using nmap is illegal, despite the VC3 v. Moulton case...." Actually, I think the metaphors throughout this piece (not just at the beginning) are what make it interesting, and a big component of law is dealing with metaphors.
You probably know how I feel about those treacherous metaphors: Useful for exaplaining, useless for determining. You might also want to look at my explanation of port scanning, if you've never heard of it before. I couldn't find a satisfactory explanation on the net so I wrote my own.

Jun 08, 2001

Two Heads Up
Administrative6/8/2001; 1:48:42 PM Alright, two heads up:1. The previous re-design was not intended to last as long as it has. I will be taking another go at it, and hopefully it will improve the site significantly.Update: I'm not quite done and I need to go do some other stuff, but this ought to be an improvement. Still not happy...2. The winds of change are blowing. I'm not ready yet, and it may not be for a month or two, but this site is slowly packing up and preparing to move to my own webspace. So get ready for an improved experience.If you run a freely-hosted Userland site, I think you should check out the Manila Site Converter tool for RU, even if you don't intend to immediately use it.

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