Archive for Politics

Honey, I shrunk the Constitution

Finished reading Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig this week. It deals with how Copyright law is being used to shrink the public domain. Lessig gives numerous examples of how copyright law has changed over the years to the advantage of the big media companies. For example just look at Disney, whose many animated features are based on public domain work (Snow White, Cinderella, Pinoccho, etc), but is one main parties that pushed for the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. Pretty hypocritical. The most interesting chapters in my opinion, were chapters 13 and 14, where Lessig writes about arguing Eldred v. Ashcroft before the Supreme Court, and where he thinks he made an error in that argument. Of his three books, this would be the one I would most recommend for people to read. BTW, the title for this post is from a line in his book, which I though was pretty funny.

Speaking of Lessig, he has placed a presentation about Google Book Search (which I haven’t had a chance to view yet) on his blog, in case anyone here is interested.

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Court questions FCC’s broadcast flag rules


WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court on Tuesday sharply questioned whether the Federal Communications Commission has the authority to ban certain types of digital TV receivers, including peripheral cards, starting in July.

Two of the three judges on the District of Columbia Circuit panel said the FCC never received permission from Congress to undertake such a sweeping regulation, which is intended to encourage the purchase of digital TV receivers that curb Internet distribution of over-the-air broadcasts of programming such as movies and sports.

“You’re out there in the whole world, regulating. Are washing machines next?” asked Judge Harry Edwards. Quipped Judge David Sentelle: “You can’t regulate washing machines. You can’t rule the world.”

In November 2003, the FCC said that every product sold in the United States after July 2005 that can receive digital TV broadcasts or digital TV streams must be able to recognize a “broadcast flag.” Such products–ranging from TV sets to computer tuners made by Elgato Systems and Hauppauge Computer Works–are permitted to deliver high-quality digital output only to devices that also adhere to the broadcast flag specification.

The groups challenging the FCC’s broadcast flag regulation include the American Library Association, the Association of Research Libraries, the Medical Library Association, Public Knowledge and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. They argue that the FCC exceeded its authority, that Congress should be responsible for making copyright law, and that librarians’ ability to make “fair use” of digital broadcasts will be unreasonably curtailed.

But one of the judges, Sentelle, suggested that the library and other nonprofit groups challenging the FCC’s rule would not suffer the kind of particular harm necessary to allow the case to proceed.

“You have to have a harm that distinguishes you from the public at large,” Sentelle said during oral arguments. “If there is not a particularized harm, you do not have standing…There may be someone from the industry who can come forward.” Edwards also said he was concerned about the groups’ “standing,” referring to the judicially recognized right to sue. Special rules exist for organizations suing federal agencies.

From the perspective of the entertainment industry, the broadcast flag is needed to encourage over-the-air distribution of valuable content. Without the FCC’s action, the Motion Picture Association of America has argued, the threat of Internet piracy would imperil the future of digital TV.

I definitely need to look into getting a HDTV tuner card before July.

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CNN “Crossfire” host Carlson to stop hurting America


More Jon Stewart/Crossfire fallout? CNN has announced that it will not renew Tucker Carlson’s contract, and the days of “Crossfire” may be numbered. Said CNN chief Jonathan Klein: “I guess I come down more firmly in the Jon Stewart camp.”

Looks like Carlson’s boss also thinks he’s dick.

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Bernard Kerik: Cop, Statesman, Mack Daddy

From Wonkette:

We’re not sure why this Ground Zero love den of Bernie Kerik’s is such a problem. Come on, like you never used 9/11 to get laid? (“But if the terrorists come back, this could be our last night…”) It’s not like the bedroom faced the smoking pile of rubble… oh, wait, it did. But still. With this guy in charge of the Department of Homeland Security, there’s no way they would have wasted all that time designing a dopey color-coded threat warning system — he had bigger problems! Like the prison guard he was sleeping with finding the love note left by the publisher he was sleeping with — there’s reason for a severe alert!

Just imagine the kind of crazy priorities that a true pimp like Kerik could have set for the department. Forget about all that duct tape, unless you’re planning to use it in bed. Hey Coast Guard — let’s see some skimpier uniforms for the ladies while you’re intercepting possible shipments of nuclear weapons! (We’re thinking bright orange, like on Baywatch.) And if women think those TSA searches at the airport are invasive now…

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Verizon-Pushed WiFi Bill Becomes Law in PA

From Slashdot:

A Wall Street Journal article tells the sad tale of how legislation barring PA municipalities from offering paid telecom services was signed into law. “Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell said late Tuesday night that he had signed into law a large telecommunications bill placing severe restrictions on the ability of cities and towns to offer telecommunications services, an item that was heavily lobbied by Verizon Communications Inc. and other big telephone companies in similar legislation across the country.”

Boy, that certainly sucks, hopefully this isn’t a start of a trend. Regardless, looks like Philadelphia’s plan to offer a citywide, free WI-FI network is dead.

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Tom Delay

Wonkette has a pretty funny write up about Tom Delay’s current troubles.

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San Francisco: No Mood for Tolerance After Bush Win

Tying into Ken’s post. From Yahoo:

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The summer of love has given way to the autumn of fear in San Francisco, a liberal stronghold where residents bitterly disappointed by the Bush victory are in no mood to reach out and mend divisions.

Rather, they are waving “United States of Canada” maps, redrawn to show Canada extending down to include California, New England and the other so-called “blue states” that voted decisively for Massachusetts Democratic Sen. John Kerry in the U.S. presidential race.

Some are canceling plans to travel to neighboring “red states,” where Bush drew most of his support. They are asking serious questions about the future of American democracy. And the usual post-election bravado about moving out of the country when a favored candidate loses is sounding different this year. It sounds a lot more serious.

“I’m going in on Monday and getting a new passport,” said an electronics technician and volunteer at the Green Festival environmental conference who requested anonymity.

“I’m not leaving yet, but I’m getting prepared,” he said. “I can imagine that this country is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.”

Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat who competed with Kerry for his party’s presidential nomination before backing the senator, urged the crowd at the festival to remain hopeful and connect with the other concerned citizens.

But the questions Kucinich fielded were anything but hopeful.

“Why should we believe we will ever have another fair election in this country?” asked one woman.

After the well-publicized electoral chaos in Florida in 2000, the United States invited international observers to monitor the Nov. 2 election. Despite widespread allegations of electoral fraud before last week’s vote, they were unable to substantiate the claims.

The woman’s frustration was echoed throughout San Francisco, arguably the most liberal city in one of the most Democratic states in the country. On Tuesday, 83.3 percent of voters in San Francisco County cast their ballots for Kerry, compared with 62.8 percent in Los Angeles County and 54.7 percent statewide.


Peace and tolerance have long been the words to live by in San Francisco, known for its large gay community, broad ethnic mix and frequent anti-war protests. But days after the election, many residents said they were so worried about an erosion of civil rights, environmental standards and the escalating violence in the Middle East, that they did not know how they could tolerate the Bush administration, or Americans who voted to re-elect him.

“I have family in Idaho, but I told my wife we’re not going to visit them now. It’s all Republicans there,” said Ron Schmidt, a public relations executive. “We have family in Indiana and I don’t want to go there either.”

It was not the reaction George W. Bush must have been hoping for when he made his acceptance speech on Wednesday and told Kerry supporters: “I will need your support and I will work to earn it.”

Schmidt said: “The ideologies of the two parties are too different. I don’t see how healing can take place. I feel like the disenfranchised minority now, and that’s a funny thing for a tall, good-looking white guy like me to say.”

Schmidt’s friend, magazine editor Joseph Connelly, said one of his columnists who had moved temporarily to Paris six months ago decided Wednesday she would settle there permanently.

“She was hoping she would want to come back,” Connelly said, “but after she saw the election results she just didn’t.”

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