joegratz.net

June 30, 2003

File-Sharing

The Streamcast case leaves the record companies with no option but to sue hundreds or thousands of individual file-swappers. So that’s what they’re doing. It’s totally insane, but they’ve got no choice, and they’ll win the cases; there’s no real question in my mind that sharing out a copyrighted file on Kazaa is copyright infringement. I still think it’s a bad idea, since it bears a risk of increasing resentment of the corporations and thus increasing P2P use.

But the point of this post is that the EFF is working on alternatives, and you should all give them money. I did. How could I resist — with Streamcast, they finally won a case! (*grin*)

Packet8

I started phone service today with Packet8, a voice-over-IP phone company (for which I am not a shill, just a geekily excited customer). This means that my phone is connected to my high-speed internet connection instead of to a regular phone line, through a terminal adapter provided free by Packet8. My voice traffic is transported over the internet to Packet8′s equipment, where it’s connected to the public switched telephone network. The magic is this: Packet8 can put equipment in any geographic location and connect it to the internet. If it has equipment in Tel Aviv and equipment in Minneapolis, and both are connected to the internet, a call from a Packet8 subscriber in Minneapolis to a business in Tel Aviv becomes a local call from Packet8′s equipment in Tel Aviv to the business. All of the transport is done over the Internet; the call doesn’t hit the public switched telephone network until it’s local to the recipient. (That’s how it works in theory; I have no idea how many actual points-of-presence Packet8 has access to. For places they don’t have equipment, they can complete the call from their nearest point of presence.)

I have a real phone number in my area code that people can call, and I can call any phone number. The call quality has been very good, and the price is right: $19.95 per month for unlimited calling in the United States and Canada. The international rates are absurdly low too ($0.05 per minute to any first-world country), though I don’t do much international calling. This definitely beats paying Qwest $14 for a dial tone, plus extra for all sorts of things that come free with Packet8 (local calls, long distance, Caller ID, call forwarding, voice mail, etc.), which would quickly add up to well over $20. The only things I can’t do are call waiting, which is apparently going to be added in a software update next month, and calling 911, which I can do from my cell phone. I may leave an old, deactivated analog cell phone lying around my apartment just for calling 911, which even deactivated cell phones can do for free. And, of course, it requires that you have a broadband connection to the internet, but I find that I’m rarely anywhere for very long without one.

VoIP is neat! And, as John Dvorak mentioned in a recent guestblog post on BoingBoing, there’s an added perk when travelling. When I’m in a hotel with broadband, I can take my home phone with me and make all the calls I’d like, without paying the hotel’s exorbitant telephone charges.

Elements

This guy made a flash animation to go with Tom Lehrer‘s Elements song. Good job.

June 27, 2003

Liberty

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas that a Texas law banning consensual sex between adult homosexuals was an unconstitutional invasion of privacy. Jack Balkin has a very good analysis. Scalia was absolutely foaming at the mouth in his dissent, which is always a good sign.

June 25, 2003

Harry Potter and the Annexation of the Sudetenland

I generally find satires of political correctness rather repetitive and unfunny, but this piece in the Guardian was an amusing break from Harry Potter 5.

June 20, 2003

Equity is a Mean Drunk

Eugene Volokh has just uncovered these “lost maxims of equity.”1

1 Cf. Maxims of Equity. N.B.: This joke will be rather puzzling if you’re not a lawyer.

LZW wants to be free

Happy GIF Patent Expiration Day!

June 16, 2003

Fair Use Gone Wild

Watching TechTV at 2:30 AM (don’t ask), I just saw a commercial for a video called “Hollywood’s Hottest: Body Shots”, a compilation of the nude scenes in various films. I wondered, at first, how this company could possibly have convinced the studios to license these scenes for a compilation of this sort; as I understood it, their contracts with the actors pictured often restrict out-of-context use of nude scenes. Then I looked again — it’s very careful to bill itself as “a review” of the nude scenes, both in the ad and on the box. I haven’t verified this, but it seems possible that this company isn’t licensing the clips at all, but is planning to claim that because they are in the context of a “review”, the use of the clips constitutes criticism and is allowed by the “fair use” defense found in 17 USC 107. Whether or not they could get away with this would depend, I think, on how much evidence of actual critical intent they included in the video itself. I’m not about to spend $19.99 plus $6.95 shipping and handling to find out. Regardless, it’s certainly creative.

June 15, 2003

2d amend.

I’m generally in favor of gun control and against the destruction of books, but I have to admit, this is kind of satisfying to look at after a long 1L year. Via How Appealing.

June 11, 2003

Campos

So, Rob Campos, the attorney starring in the reality show “For Love or Money,” was apparently dismissed from the JAG Corps after a drunken breast-groping incident. Big shock — another reality show bachelor is less than the white knight he claims to be. The really scandalous thing, in my opinion, is this law firm bio of Campos, riddled with spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. How could a licensed, practicing attorney have such a limited command of the English language? Like millions of reality show viewers, I’d be amused to have a look at this guy’s briefs.

Disclaimer Haiku:
West wind seems to say,
"This is not legal advice;
I'm not your lawyer."

(And if you're a client with whom I have a preexisting attorney-client relationship, this still isn't legal advice.)

In case you're wondering, this blog is also not intended as advertising, as a representation of anything but my personal opinion, or as an offer of representation.

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