posted Sep 20, 2000
What iRights Isn't
Personal Commentary9/20/2000; 3:02:27 PM In the original incarnation of the last article about Apple licensing Amazon's one-click patent (which was never publicly posted), I started to get into my posting policy for this site, which has developed over the last 8 months I've been running this site. I decided to pull it out seperately.I see iRights' primary purpose as covering issues, not news. While a lot of news makes it onto the site, I always try to make sure it relates to the issues. Hence, things like the Napster trial, which is news, gets covered in detail as the case was groundbreaking, and the arguments were getting analysed by a judge presiding over an actual case for the first time. This is importent in the settling of the issues that the trial covers. If Napster-Clone 3 gets sued two years from now for the same reason, Napster-Clone 3 would be lucky to get so much as a mention from this site. (If there's still a point to this site 2 years from now!)I have found that I try to pick news stories that meet the following criteria, from most importent to least (to me):
- News stories that cover a new topic. These are fairly rare, and often end up as entirely new catagories.
- News that puts a new spin on an issue, or clarifies an issue, or resolves an issue.
- News that is reasonably interesting... essays of interest fit in here.
Most all the news I post should fit into one of those catagories, most really in the third catagory. (Since I'm fitting my behavior after the fact and have no intention of being bound
by these rules, there's a lot of flex room here.
) Thus, I didn't cover the Amazon One-Click patent until the essay in Salon pointed out the only relevent new observation about the agreement, which is that the licensing added percieved validity to the patent. Other then that tidbit, there's nothing new
about the patent problem contained in the article.As another "for instance" (there are a few others), I don't cover stories about employee privacy. I tend to agree with the law; the computers belong to the corporation and if they want to mandate what you can and can't do with them, and monitor your every keystroke, then so be it. It's invasive, insidious, perhaps even evil, but legal. And the way to meet this problem is the same way employees have been fighting management since the industrial revolution: with unions. It's an importent issue, yes, but it's not really a "computer" or "internet" issue. (It's really no different then having a camera pointed at you at all times. If the unions won't stand up to it, then it will be done and it will be legal.)So, this site is not
a news service; it only looks like a news service because all of the issues are so new (both truly new issues, and issues that existed before the founding of this site in Jan. 2000), and so a lot of news makes it in here. I don't aggregate everything I can find. There's absolutely no way I could cover all of the topics
I'm covering if I had to post every news story of interest. In more peaceful times, this site might cover just the various essays that people might be writing.(Digest sites are
useful, I don't mean to slight them at all, I'm just saying I'm not aiming for that niche. There are many great digest sites out there... one that covers a lot of things in detail that I summarize is the Privacy Digest
, which collects a lot of stories about privacy, both computer and otherwise. I don't know if the author posts everything
he finds from day to day, but he finds a lot more then I post here, and the way the two sites cover two niches in detail is great! Privacy Digest and iRights are excellent companions; I don't see us as competing sites, but as complementing sites. Another excellent digest-type site that only rarely touches the topics on this site is Over Lawyered.com
, which covers lawsuits and trial lawyers. If you know of other good ones, I'd be very interested in knowing.Of course, this is a range, not an absolute news/issues dichotomy. Both of the digests I mention run commentary too, they just have a much stronger tendancy to post news then iRights, regardless of whether they have commentary or not.)I just wanted to clarify why there are some things 'missing' from this site that you might think belong here. Hopefully it'll make more sense after my essay gets done anyhow. (Yep, another massive missive is in the works, and I'm really, really excited about how it's turning out. Optimistically speaking, I really do think I've pulled nearly all of these topics together in a rational way, and how to handle them reasonably consistently. There are some other bonuses too, more about that later.)Thanks for reading!