The Bush presidency is like a carnival ride. We are jostled, and our stomach occasionally grows queasy. As we leave the park, the thrill subsides and our pockets are empty.
Am I the only person in the United States getting fed up with moral exhibitionism? And no, I’m not really talking about the Terri Schiavo spectacle playing out 24/7 on the cable news channels.
† † Meanwhile, the latest trend in moral grandstanding is pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions they suspect might be used sinfully. According to a March 28, 2005, article in The Washington Post, a growing number are not only refusing to dispense birth control or “morning after” pills that offend their personal religious beliefs, but delivering impromptu sermons to the sinners who come to pick them up.
† † I think all this has less to do with real faith than the growing number of “devout” self-dramatizing narcissists among us. I’m on firm scriptural grounds, too. “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them,” Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount. “If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in Heaven.”
† † Only hypocrites, Christ added, make a public spectacle of their religiosity. Apart from Old Testament admonitions about selling daughters into slavery or stoning Beavis and Butthead to death, it’s getting to be the least-observed doctrine in the Bible.
† † My advice would be simpler: get over yourself or get a new job. This is a fairly straightforward piece of moral reasoning: The rights that matter here aren’t yours, they’re the patient’s, whose sexual and reproductive practices come under the heading of none of your business. If that’s not good enough, hire some kid to serve as your “Shabbas goy” — what Orthodox Jews call somebody who does grunt work on the Sabbath. …
† † Meanwhile, any pharmacy that advertises “We Fill All Legal Prescriptions” will get my trade.
ING heeft de deelname in de Bank of Bejing in China voor een belangrijk deel te danken aan een lobby door premier Balkenende. Dit heeft ING-bestuurder Alexander Rinnooy Kan gezegd in een gesprek met het Financieele Dagblad, dat maandag is gepubliceerd.
“Een zware delegatie onder leiding van bondskanselier SchrŲder nam het begin december in Peking op voor Deutsche Bank”, aldus Rinnooy Kan. Maar diezelfde maand ontving Balkenende in zijn toenmalige functie van EU-voorzitter de Chinese premier Wen Jiabao in Den Haag. In een bilateraal gesprek is toen de verkoop van het belang van 19,9 in Bank of Beijing aan de orde gekomen. Rinnooy Kan: “In onze ogen was dat onmisbaar.”
Aha. Vandaar dat Balk voor de gekozen burgemeester is – hij heeft al een baangarantie.
U.S. Supreme Court
April 1, 1905
MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the court:
This is an appeal from a decree restraining an alleged infringement by the defendant of the copyrights of artists represented by the respondents. That massive infringement has occurred using the systems developed and sold by the defendant is not in dispute. Respondents have estimated, and the defendant has stipulated as fact, that 90 percent of the content used on those devices are direct or thinly disguised copies of copyrighted works. The only question at hand is whether the defendant’s actions in selling those systems constitutes infringement on his part.
The respondents acknowledge that the defendant did not himself copy the stories or the music of the artists they represent. Rather they argue that copyright infringement is the only significant use of his products and as such his design and sale of them constitute an active inducement to infringing acts on the part of others. The defendant knew or should have known when he devised these systems that they would be used for illegal purposes and is therefore liable for contributory infringement.
The court recognizes that the devices, as the defense has argued, do theoretically have the capability of substantial noninfringing use. And we are mindful of the concern that making the defendant responsible for how customers use his products might discourage some of the inventive spirit he has shown in the past. However, we cannot ignore the testimony of some of this nation’s most renowned composers, playwrights, actors and other artists of the grievous harm caused by wholesale copying of their “inventions” that the defendant’s products have induced. Indeed, if the all too public performances of their work enabled by the defendant’s devices continue, the very existence of the respondents’ centuries-old crafts would be in jeopardy. We therefore cannot help but agree with the respondents’ assertion that the defendant’s systems are in fact two “gigantic infringement machines built on inducement” of illegal violations of copyright.
Therefore, in the matter of defendant Thomas Alva Edison versus respondent the Book Authors Guild and respondent the Sheet Music Publishers Association, this court unanimously concurs with the lower court’s decree. In inventing and offering for sale his “moving picture” and “phonograph” devices, the defendant induced countless infringing acts against the holders of copyrights for books and music. Defendant Edison’s assets are to be seized in order to make restitution to the respondents. Furthermore, all phonographs, record players, moving picture equipment and similar devices are to be confiscated and destroyed. All “record” companies and “film studios” most disgorge their ill-gotten gains and henceforth cease and desist all operations now and forevermore.
It is so ordered.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court heard arguments in MGM v. Grokster. The Grokster case, for those who haven’t been following it, concerns the liability of distributors of P2P software. As we all know, there are legitimate uses for P2P software (think BitTorrent and distributing Linux ISOs, which are legally free and clear for distribution) and infringing uses (distributing MP3s of Dark Side of the Moon on a P2P network). The question is, whether a distributor should be held liable for infringing uses when there are substantial non-infringing uses as well.
The case is a test of the famous (or infamous, if you happen to be on the recording industry’s side of the fence) Betamax standard. (See the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Betamax Case page for an excellent summary of Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios.)
The ramifications of this case are huge: A loss for the Grokster could mean disaster for P2P filesharing systems across the board, as well as other technologies. If Grokster is liable for infringing uses, would the ProFTPD Team be liable when someone grabs a copy of Star Wars from a server running ProFTPD? Would Microsoft be liable when someone uses IE to download MP3s from websites? Since almost any file transfer software could be abused to infringe on copyrights, where would the line be drawn? A loss for Grokster could have a serious chilling effect for all sorts of software.
However, there’s been another interesting development in the case that no one was expecting. Timothy K. Armstrong was at the MGM v. Grokster hearing and caught MGM making a surprise concession in response to a question from Justice Antonin Scalia: (Emphasis added)
At least some of the Justices, Scalia in particular, seemed troubled by how an inventor would know, at the time of inventing, how its invention might be marketed in the future. How, some of the Justices asked MGM, could the inventors of the iPod (or the VCR, or the photocopier, or even the printing press) know whether they could go ahead with developing their invention? It surely would not be difficult for them to imagine that somebody might hit upon the idea of marketing their device as a tool for infringement.
MGM s answer to this was pretty unsatisfying. They said that at the time the iPod was invented, it was clear that there were many perfectly lawful uses for it, such as ripping one s own CD and storing it in the iPod. This was a very interesting point for them to make, not least because I would wager that there are a substantial number of people on MGM s side of the case who don t think that example is one bit legal. But they ve now conceded the contrary in open court, so if they actually win this case they ll be barred from challenging ripping in the future under the doctrine of judicial estoppel. In any event, though, MGM s iPod example did exactly what their proposed standard expressly doesn t do: it evaluated the legality of the invention based on the knowledge available to the inventor at the time, not from a post hoc perspective that asks how the invention is subsequently marketed or what business models later grow up around it.
Hat tip to Ernest Miller for pointing out Armstrong’s post. Miller also points out that, if it’s OK to rip MP3s to your iPod, shouldn’t it be legal to rip DVDs to another medium for personal use?
What about using DeCSS to watch DVDs on Linux or other platforms? It should be interesting to see MGM try to wriggle out of this, since I doubt that the company is going to champion any expansion of fair use.