Dec 20, 2000

Scary, Sneaky HR 46
12/20/2000; 1:57:07 PM

'Congress may adjourn today — but not before inflicting a series of blows on civil liberties and federalism. As is usual for end-of-the-session assaults on civil liberties, the plan is to speed the new laws through as attachments to some innocuous law, before most people in Congress have time to notice.'

Note the addition to the National Review Online story: "Late on December 15, the sponsors of H.R. 46 agreed to remove all objectionable material from the bill, except for the encryption provision."

Dec 20, 2000

Censorware to be Mandatory in Schools, Libraries
Free Speech
12/20/2000; 11:30:40 AM 'Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a longtime proponent of censorware, introduced the amendment.... Essentially it says that any school or library which receives federal funds to build its network must install censorware. Since these funds are the chief way that poor and middle-income areas bring the internet into public institutions, effectively this means that only rich counties will have the option of an uncensored internet. '

Dec 20, 2000

Against Intellectual Property and an update
Personal Commentary
12/20/2000; 11:05:46 AM

I've been unwell the past couple of days, hence the lack of updates.  I'm going to catch up, so the next few links may seem a bit out of date

I read this essay a while ago, before I started this site, but I came across it again and want to link to it. Against Intellectual Property is an essay on why there should be no intellectual property. Personally, I disagree with it strongly, and I suspect that if we actually lived in the world the author desires, not only would things not be as peachy as he seems to think, but I think there would be a large movement towards re-instating intellectual property. In particular, I think his paragraph starting with "In a society without intellectual property, creativity is likely to thrive." uses a hand-waving argument; it seems OK from a distance, but trying to actually construct such a society is a challenge, if one is realistic about human behavior.

It's good to be diverse in one's reading, though.

Dec 15, 2000

Prodigy to fight BT's 'shameless' hyperlinks patent lawsuit
12/15/2000; 8:46:14 PM

'Prodigy Communications Corp has reacted angrily to BT's hypertext links lawsuit branding it "blatant and shameless".... It intends to fight its case and expects other companies to band together to take on BT....

Yikes! I'm rooting for Prodigy! I never thought that day would come.

'It could take years before this matter is resolved.'

By which time the patent will nearly have expired.  Funny, in a sick way. I don't even want to think about the interest on the back royalties.

Dec 15, 2000

German Hate Law: No Denying It
Free Speech
12/15/2000; 2:42:15 PM

'The court, called the Bundesgerichtshof, issued a ruling on Tuesday that overturned a lower court ruling, and found that German law applies even to foreigners who post content on the Web in other countries -- so long as that content can be accessed by people inside of Germany.'

This is unlike the French Yahoo! ruling; the French have some claim to jurisdiction because there is a Yahoo! branch in France. I wouldn't call it enough, along with a lot of other people, but at least there's basis for argument. This story appears to be a ban on content from anywhere in the world. I'll skip belaboring the obvious implications, but I would like to point out one thing about the people who support this ruling:

'But Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, applauded the court action.... "We have to commend the Germans and the French for basically saying 'in our societies, this is how we deal with the problems of hate, racism and Holocaust denial. You in America have your own laws, but at least respect our values.'"'

I'd like to point out that this issue does not re-affirm Germany's sovereigness, instead it's a direct assault on the sovereigness of Australia. This is more like Germany saying "In our societies, this is how we deal with these problems, and this is how you will deal with them too." Note the full legal story is quite complicated, which the article discusses well, but should an extradition order be filed for the website in Australia because it violates German law, I would find this scary.

(Note: Due to the international implications of this ruling, I'm not filing it as a Germany story.)

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