This week, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement shut down a number of websites that were offering live streams of professional sporting events (source). The central claim was that the video delivered through those websites is protected by copyrights.
While I’m sure there are some hippies those out there who would take the position that a sporting event can’t be copyrighted (I’ve read some off-the-wall legal articles that take such a position), I am firmly in the camp that believes the recorded video is absolutely the kind of thing that Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, was drafted to cover. My main problem here is that, rather than developing an effective way to reach every viewer who wants to enjoy their broadcasts, professional sports associations go crying to their congressman or the U.S. attorney about how their shitty business model is not making as much money as it used to.
Wake the fuck up, asssholes. We live in a world where on-demand, high-definition video is a viable option. I watch crap on my iPad while taking a crap — and I couldn’t be happier that this has become technologically possible. I should be able to watch whatever I want, whenever I want, and wherever I want to watch it. If I wanna watch “The Leap Home” at 3:45am on Tuesday, then there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to. Charge me a fee for it; I’m okay with that — but quit complaining about piracy, when you are actively blocking viewers from consuming your product.
Apparently, there are at least a few out there who have a hard-on for eradicating crimethink. In their latest effort, a newly sanitized edition of Mark Twain’s classic, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, will be published as part of a collection that is more suitable for classroom consumption, i.e., sans all uses of the “n-word.” In its place, the publishers, NewSouth Books, have inserted the word “slave.” Also deemed too offensive for print: “injun”
On a practical note, in between the ramblings on conspiracy theories, I noted a subtle legal issue in Attorney Wolk’s opposition that I thought warranted a bit of discussion. For one of his substantive thrusts, Wolk poopoos the Amici for bringing an argument in opposition to his appeal that was not raised at the trial level. Wolk cites numerous authorities for the principal that new arguments cannot be brought up at the appellate level. Now, in fairness, I didn’t check all of the cited cases, but each of the ones I did involved the appellant getting the smack down for raising arguments that the appellee wasn’t given the opportunity to develop at the trial level. I’m not 100% sure that Wolk’s argument holds up when the shoe is on the other hand.
By way of quick and simplified explanation, on appeal the appellant (Wolk, in this case) is the party that disagrees with the ruling of the lower court. The appellant’s opponent, i.e., the appellee, therefore agrees with the lower decision. Therefore, it’s the appellant who wants to tip the apple cart, while the appellee is fine with things as they are. Given the desired tendency towards finality of court decisions, and in the interest of judicial economy, the appellant is supposed to have a bit of an uphill battle, but the same is not necessarily true for the appellee. Ignoring for the purposes of discusion the fact that it was Amici who brought the new argument, I think that Wolk is wrong that new support cannot be introduced to prop up the lower court’s decision to dismiss his complaint.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled this week that committing a sex crime is not necessarily a prerequisite for ordering a convict to register as a sex offender (source). I tried reading the opinion to figure this nonsense out, but my head nearly exploded when I read the excerpted sentence below, and I had to stop.
In the present case, the parties agree that a fundamental right is not implicated . . . . (source)
Of course the headline here seems like common sense, but what’s surprising is that many attorneys have trouble with this bit of wisdom. As surprising as it may be, understanding why practicing attorneys have trouble controlling their aggressive tendencies is not difficult when you think about it. The problem is, when you have to spend 80% of your time dealing with deadbeats and scam artists, you end up in a near-permanent state of cynicism. Hell — in a lot of instances, it helps to be a bit of a dick. This, of course, is the motto of any self-respecting alpha.
Good attorneys, however, know how and when to turn off the bloodlust. The best attorneys manage to avoid it altogether. The moment you start to get emotional about going after that one defendant, the moment it becomes personal for you, there is a real danger that you’re going to accidentally misdirect that energy. If you lose the big picture in a haze of red, bad things can start to happen. Recent events in the heated debate over copyright enforcement serve as proof.
Larry Flynt Publications (LFP) just parted ways with Evan Stone, an attorney that was hired to pursue the hundreds of BitTorrent users who are illegally trading copies of one of the company’s recent video titles, This Ain’t Avatar XXX. When Stone wanted to press harder than his client, not surprisingly he got the boot. It turns out that when LFP was unwilling to bite the hand of Time Warner Cable, an ISP dragging its heels on turning over customer information tied to IP addresses used to share the movie, Stone became unhappy with LFP’s intestinal fortitude.
According to LFP President Michael Klein . . . the shifting focus from the alleged pirates to putting pressure on the cable companies was not a strategy that appealed to the iconic adult company, which has a television division and continuing global ambitions that require it to be a partner rather than an antagonist with companies like Time Warner. . . . Klein said that as much as LFP is determined to maintain a professional relationship with cable operators, it was ultimately their frustration with Stone’s aggressive PR tactics that led them to the decision to end the contract with him.
“He wanted us to put pressure on the cable operators, but it’s not our goal to go after them,” Klein told AVN. “We want to look at ways to go after pirates, and we thought this strategy might work out, but the reason why we terminated with Stone was because of what we considered to be his unprofessional tactics.” (source)
Plenty of attorneys argue — and they’re not necessarily wrong — that being successful requires adopting the client’s problems as if they were the attorney’s own. However, very few businesses become successful by playing hardball with everyone the way an attorney would. (Similarly, any company that is always as cautious as their attorney advises will likely fail to excel.) The problem comes when your level of tenacity goes beyond the client’s, and fighting the problem becomes for your benefit rather than theirs. This is almost always a recipe for disaster, especially considering it can require superhuman empathic skills to know where the line is sometimes. Unfortunately, there’s no law school course that will give you the paracortex of a Betazoid, so you’ll have to rely on your own douchetastic meter to figure out when you’ve gone too far. There’s no surefire way to navigate this conundrum, but staying away from brash and overly aggressive tactics will help, and that’s a good practice in any endeavor.
FX‘s president, John Landgraf, in a conference call with news media announced today the cancellation of the network’s newest original show, “Terriers” (source). Being qualitatively one of the best shows on television is apparently not enough to support a series anymore. The sheep need to be fed a steady diet of shittymurderwhodunnits or they will refuse to eat anymore, so it seems. CNN, in its obituary for the show, pretty much sums up exactly why the show should have survived, but oddly it turns out to be an explanation of why we won’t be enjoying the further adventures of Hank and Britt:
This was also an original show in the truest sense. It wasn’t a paint-by-numbers procedural. It wasn’t a remake of an earlier series or a movie. It wasn’t the next installment in a reality franchise. It established a world and inhabited that world with fully formed characters, asking the audience to invest in those characters and their flaws. (source)
No. I guess we’d much rather enjoy more awful performances from grade-a douche bags like Alex O’Loughlin on “Hawaii Five-O” than experience anything new. All I can say is that FX better not even think about messing with “Justified,” or I will be forced to purchase an AR-15 and a plane ticket.
Google, allegedly in an effort to improve the civility of user comments, has determined that the “caps lock” key should not be a part of laptops that will be made to support its forthcoming operating system. (source)
I know this story is already a couple of days old, but we think it’s still worth reporting on. For anyone who doesn’t know what’s going on, Facebook has been on a tear recently trying to flex its trademark muscles, suing and threatening to sue pretty much anyone who uses the word “book” in their name. Well Lamebook, a site dedicated to poking fun at the oft times unintentional hilarity that appears on Facebook, has decided that its not going to be bullied. On November 4, after receiving threats of litigation from the social networking giant, Lamebook filed a declaratory judgement action in Texas, asserting the collective First Amendment rights of its creators and users… and for that, we thank you (and donated a few bucks to your legal fund).
Keep fighting the good fight, Lamebook, so you can continue to remind us how funny ignorance can be.
When are you gonna learn that legislation and regulation are not a substitute for parenting? If your kid is too fat, don’t buy them the effing happy meal. Problem solved. Banning products is the worst form of government intrusion. Period. And while we’re on the subject of banned products — thanks alot, stoners, for sitting on the couch and hitting the bong last Tuesday instead of getting out to vote for Proposition 19. Have another bag of Funyuns, you lazy bastards.
Rant concluded. You may go about your day as previously scheduled.