August 30, 2005

Gizmodo Goes Victorian

Gizmodo, a rather arch gadget blog, has this post about the possibly impending announcement of an iPod phone and iPod video player, written in the style of a formal Victorian missive.

These two devices, of which much has thus far been said, may change the manner in which an active Citizen goes about their Business. By allowing a Man, even Churchmen, to view moving pictures on any Mode of Transport, be it Horse or Horse and Carriage or even the Demonic Steam Engine, we cause the downfall of Common Courtesy and Decency, encouraging every Uncouth Urchin to Pine for an iPodde and allow women, whose Modesty and Virtue have thus far been already Besmirched by the “Hot Tea Modulation,” which, when applied to the Puzzle “Grand Theft Auto: Derbyshire” will cause and image of the hero and a woman of contended virtue to sit, unchaperoned, in a Cafe where, as rumour has it, they share a Sachertorte.

Law Review Articles Cite

I just found that two law review articles (both, improbably, in the same volume of the same journal) have cited to this blog:

This is two more citations than my scholarly publications have garnered thus far. See Joseph Gratz, Reform in the “Brave Kingdom”: Alternative Compensation Systems for Peer-to-Peer File Sharing, 6 Minn. J. L. Sci. & Tech. 399 (2004); Joseph Gratz, Recent Developments, Voice over Internet Protocol, 6 Minn. J. L. Sci. & Tech. 443 (2004).

August 25, 2005

Fed. Cir. Overturns Preliminary Injunction in StorageTek

A little over a year ago, I reported that a preliminary injunction had issued in StorageTek v. Custom Hardware. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant’s reverse engineering of the plaintiff’s software for interoperability purposes violated various laws, including the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions.

Yesterday, the Federal Circuit reversed. Jason Schultz has more.


Dish Network, a satellite TV provider, is offering free service to all of the residents of any town that renames itself “Dish”.

I guess the boom times really are coming back.

Software Freedom Law Center Job Opening

The Software Freedom Law Center is seeking a staff attorney. What’s interesting about the ad is the rather clever “bozo filter” they’ve included:

Email resumes with “Staff Attorney” in the subject line to ravicher at softwarefreedom dot org. Resumes will be accepted through no other means and resumes submitted in “.doc” or any other non-free or non-open format will not be considered.

If you can’t tell free file formats from non-free file formats, or if you can’t produce your resume in one of those formats, you are not qualified for this job. I’m not applying, but if I were, I’d have to make a tough decision between sending my resume in TeX source and sending in a GPL’d obfuscated C program that displays my resume when run.

The Good Fight

From this week’s Onion:

Entertainment Lawyer ‘Fighting The Good Fight’

NEW YORK—Although he works long hours for less than seven figures a year, entertainment lawyer Jude Mortison said knowing that he is “one of the good guys” makes it all worth it. “I might not be one of those big fancy city-courthouse types, but I do my part,” said Mortison, who tracks down song lyrics used in published works without proper permission and secures the requisite legal and penalty fees for music publishers. Mortison, who bills $800 an hour, added that the look of satisfaction on the face of Warner Brothers executives is all the additional payment he needs.

Reading this gave me the same “Onion editors are in my head” feeling as reading the “What’s Your Favorite Commedia Dell’Arte Stock Character?” infographic (Pulcinella: 0.2%; Arlecchino: 0.1%; Il Dottore: 0.1%; No idea what you’re talking about: 99.6%) while an undergraduate theatre geek.

UPDATE: The Onion has just opened their archives on the web. Thus, I can provide a link to the infographic in question. (My memory of it was nearly accurate — not bad for a six-and-a-half-year-old newspaper gag.)

August 24, 2005


I was perusing today’s issue of The Recorder, a legal newspaper in San Francisco, when I saw the following headline on the front page:

9th Cir: Arranging Hits Is Not Protected Speech

“How,” I thought, “could I have missed this? I’ve been reading the slip opinions pretty regularly. A case about the interaction between the sequencing of songs on an album and the First Amendment — that must be some set of facts. And a finding that it’s not protected! I’ve got to read this.”

Oh. Wait.

The case, I quickly realized, was about arranging hits, not about arranging hits.

(The opinion is here, in case you’re interested.)

Google Talk

This morning Google launched Google Talk, a Jabber-based instant messaging service.

In a previous post, I made a firm prediction that “Google will not offer VoIP-to-PSTN calling to consumers within the next two years”. Today’s announcement does not quite prove me wrong, but calls my prediction into serious question.

The evidence that Google Talk will be expanded to include computer-to-phone calling? For one, Google Talk is “federated” with SIPPhone, a service that already offers PC-to-phone calling. This means that users of each service can seamlessly contact users of the other service.

Further, the site indicates that a future version will support SIP signaling for voice calls, the most commonly-used protocol for services like Vonage and BroadVoice. It already supports common VoIP codecs like PCMA, PCMU, g723, and iLBC. Once the SIP functionality is added, PSTN interconnection is almost trivial.

So I’m not wrong yet, but I suspect I will be soon. This still strikes me as a puzzling strategic move for Google, but I suppose they must have something grand in mind.

August 23, 2005

Outsourcing Associates?

In the recent discussions of the long-term effects of outsourcing on the American economy, I’ve always felt rather smug about my choice of profession. American clients, I thought, will always need American lawyers. You can’t just transparently transfer legal analysis to a call-center worker in Mumbai.

Turns out, I may have been partly wrong.

I received a spam today from an Indian company (unnamed, lest spam be rewarded) offering outsourced legal research and writing. For $10 to $15 per hour, their staff will “investigate the latest case law, statutes, administrative pronouncements and rulings, law review articles, and many other sources to find the information you need”. They can “work on the law of most countries, including the US, UK, Canada, Australia etc.” Work is assigned and returned via email.

So even if client-focused lawyering can’t be outsourced, perhaps low-level associates’ gruntwork can. I can imagine some associate with no time, no scruples, and lots of cash outsourcing that fifty-state survey of fair-dealership laws to an inexpensive overseas team.

August 14, 2005

Richard Foreman: Commoner

Richard Foreman, noted experimental playwright and progenitor of the Ontological-Hysteric Theatre, has made his notebooks freely availbale on the web for anyhone who wishes to create a performance from them. The notebooks are here; coverage in this morning’s New York Times is here.

Though he does not explicitly use a Creative Commons license, Foreman’s terms are similar to those of the CC Attribution license:

I here make available my notebooks for the last fifteen years or so in the hopes directors/writers will make use of the material as I do. Choosing, arrangning, re-arranging, inventing situations into which the dialogue can be dropped, and ending up with a theatrical poerformance.

This material if offered freely. I ask no royalty. Because of the unique way I generate plays– this may mean I myself will still be using from this pool of material in the future. I invite you to do so also.

The only thing I ask is that if you make use of this material in performance
a) you simply notify me, so I can know if this material is stimulating anyone.
b) any material used for production or publication displays in program or title page– relatively prominantly– the statement that the text involved is re-arranged material taken from the notebooks of Richard Foreman.

In the Times article, Foreman explains the thinking behind his choice:

“I like to think of the notebooks as a pool of raw material,” Mr. Foreman said. “I make plays of out it, so why can’t other people? I just identify with this idea that I’m a funnel for this material that doesn’t particularly belong to me.”

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.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.
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