Archive for the 'privacy' Category
outing the snoopers

Иконописиконографияиконимека мебелRosalind Picard, a co-inventor of software that can assess people’s expressions, is marketing the software for people with autistic spectrum disorders, and other users. However, she notes that:

Affectiva, Dr. Picard said, intends to offer its technology as “opt-in only,” meaning consumers have to be notified and have to agree to be watched online or in stores. Affectiva, she added, has turned down companies, which she declined to name, that wanted to use its software without notifying customers.

Steve Lohr, Smarter Than You Think: When Computers Keep Watch, NYT 2011/01/02.

While I have to acknowledge her consistency, it would be a more elegant bit of turn-around justice for consumers to be given those shy companies’ identity.

Google just cries out for Tom Lehrer

Or rather, the phenomenon that is Google cries out for Tom Lehrer. Come out of retirement, Tom! Political satire is not obsolete, notwithstanding Kissinger’s Nobel ….

A colleague posted on a listserv a brief note about an article on “Google’s planes”. I thought, no, really? Google is buying planes? for streetview, I imagine — holy cow, what’s next?

Then I clicked on the link and was relieved to see it was about Google’s plans; the colleague had merely made a typo.

Or so I thought.

Cue ominous music: dunh dunh dunh.

Because, as that same colleague informed me, Google actually IS buying unmanned drones for aerial surveillance for Street View ! ! ! ! ! (I think screeching violins a la “Psycho” would be good here.)

Well, no, not really. A Google executive is buying it “for personal use”. Google categorically denies Street View applications, which shows that its PR department definitely is on the ball.

Sometimes reality is not nearly as weird as it should be.

celebrity sex tapes: tell us something we don’t know

Broadsheet @ salon.com is usually a pretty fair source for recycled news and commentary about women, gender, and sexuality.

But Tracy Clark-Flory’s recent commentary about yet another celebrity sex tape — Kendra Wilkinson, who I had to look up after reading this article — is possibly one of the most pointless articles on the phenomena I’ve ever read.

Clark-Flory gives a brief review of the facts — sex tape made; released for big bucks by ex-boyfriend who made the tape; Wilkinson trying to get a C&D on privacy grounds. She then reviews the Paris Hilton and Pamela Anderson sex tape litigation — primarily copyright litigations that were settled. Then she concludes that Wilkinson is not likely to succeed because the video has hit the Internet and quotes a lawyer who says if you don’t want your sex tape released don’t make it.

Wow, how insightful.

Could we please talk about the merits of the privacy argument, which is the only real piece of this that makes it a gender issue? (or interesting at all)

Or maybe talk about the phenomenon of women’s boyfriends releasing privately made sexual materials? How that implicates privacy law, as well as ethics and sexism? Instead of quoting a lawyer (male) who says if you don’t want your sex tape splattered on the Internet, don’t make one; why not tell women not to leave their sex tapes in their boyfriends’ hands ????

Speechless

Just like Maddow after Jindal, I am rendered speechless by the DOJ memos released on Monday. Most were by my former Con Law professor; among the notable exceptions was the repudiation of these policies last October.

Holy Constitutional Law, Batman.

* DOJ – Office of Legal Counsel memos

* NYT (3/3)
* LAT (3/3)
* links to the memos with brief annotations at salon.com

* Jack Balkin @ Balkinization (3/3 7am)
* Scott Horton @ Harper’s (3/3 716am)
* Dan Froomkin @ the Washington Post (3/3 12:52 pm)
* Glenn Greenwald, 3/3

data privacy day — no, i did not know

Someone twittered today, “Did you know today was Data Privacy Day?” No, I did not know. But indeed it is. Behold!

On January 28, 2009, the United States, Canada, and 27 European countries will celebrate Data Privacy Day. One of the primary goals of Data Privacy Day is to promote privacy education and awareness among teens across the United States, helping teens learn to network and work online safely and responsibly. Data Privacy Day also serves the important purpose of furthering international collaboration and cooperation around data protection issues.

Celebrated jointly with the European Union for the first time in 2008, Data Privacy Day is quickly gaining recognition here in the United States. Congressman David Price has introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives seeking support for the declaration of January 28, 2009 as National Data Privacy Day.

Please join ITAA for our event commemorating Data Privacy Day and featuring remarks by Congressman Price and Member of European Parliament, Alexander Alvaro, as well as key representatives of the privacy community. A networking reception will follow.

ITAA would like to acknowledge Intel, Microsoft, AT&T, Oracle, and Google as supporters of Data Privacy Day.

from the Information Technology Association of America ….

yaay EFF & Georgia senatorial candidate

Of course, it’s never surprising when the EFF takes on the most challenging issues in technology law, but it was particularly gratifying to see them arguing to overturn the odious telecommunications immunity passed last year. The Machinist at Salon — a blog I’ve been appreciating more and more lately — has a great summary & recap of the issue.

And two for two for Salon.com today, because Glenn Greenwald, who now also blogs for Salon, highlighted today something that did surprise me: Georgia Democratic Senatorial candidate Jim Martin’s principled critique of that legislation.

Go figure. Political candidates can surprise me with something other than the depths of their ignorance and/or pandering and/or willingness to lie outright.

shades of the Pinkertons

In Burger with a Side of Spies (editorial, NYT 5/7), Eric Schlosser calls for legislation to protect people from private entities, á la the Bill of rights.

The article discusses a number of incidents, including spying and infiltration
– by HP on journalists;
– by a private security firm on Greenpeace & other environmentalist groups; and
– most recently, Burger King on the Student/Farmworker Alliance.

I note that the article did not cover the related litigation against the RIAA’s minions, spying on your networks. Similarly, the article did not cover companies’ growing abuses of their employees. Still, a good start.

internet privacy (NJ edition)

New Jersey’s Supreme Court has recognized that people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their email communications — thus, law enforcement has to get a search warrant or grand jury subpoena. This was under the New Jersey Constitution and applies only to New Jersey. It’s the first major case finding a state constitutional privacy right in electronic records.

of penumbral emanations and scholarly trends

Speaking of penumbra yet again (1, 2) , I had previously blogged about a Circuit split on laws banning sex toys — it was Valentine’s Day, and I was feeling a bit whimsical, so I wished for a “penumbra” that would strike down stupid laws.

LawPundit “ha[s] an opinion” on my wish for a penumbra that covers “no stupid laws”; I thought it was pretty amusing & worth checking out.

LawPundit also annotated my use of the word “penumbra” with a link to google:define:penumbra. Unfortunately, I don’t think that quite captures the legal nuance. Legal scholar/lawyer-types know the reference, of course, but for those non-lawyers, “penumbra” is famous in Constitutional law as a reference to Griswold v. Connecticut. In Griswold, the Supreme Court overturned a Connecticut statute that made it a crime to buy contraceptives. Justice William O. Douglas, looking at the Constitutional guarantees of individual liberties as a whole, wrote that the statute violated the individual right to privacy, which could be found looking at the “penumbras” and “emanations” of Constitutional protections. The language is a little funny, but standing alone, or with Eisenstadt (which extended to unmarried people the right to buy contraception), this case, and the words “penumbra” and “emanations”, would provide simply a pleasant diversion to while away the afternoons in contemplation of rarely-used words in legal opinions. The concept of “penumbras” of a set of enumerated rights is not that bizarre, especially in light of the Ninth Amendment (which notes that “the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”) and the Tenth Amendment (which states clearly that powers not delegated to the US, nor prohibited to the States, “are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”). These Amendments practically beg for penumbral analysis, and “privacy” (a concept theoretically defined and refined only in the last 125 years, but whose spirit animates much of the Constitutional protections) and “autonomy” (not considered one of the Constitutional “rights”, per se, but I keep wishing) are ripe concepts for that sort of analysis.

But conservatives have freaked out when the penumbras that protect privacy were extended to abortion in Roe v. Wade and to other matters of sexual privacy since then, and and now excoriate the very notion of penumbras. And emanations. (One could argue that the very essence of conservatism is a certain distaste for emanations.) So, “penumbras” the concept has acquired a certain air of disrepute in many legal circles, because even scholars who find it perfectly reasonable to examine the Constitution as a whole as well as in its discrete little parts, tend to back off a bit from Douglas’ sweeping penumbras and emanations, so successfully have right-wingers trashed those ideas. A damn shame, because the concept is perfectly reasonable, and it’s only the rabid dog opposition to abortion that has cast the shadow over Griswold and its penumbral emanations.

circuit split on sex toys

Well, the 5th Circuit (Texas) has just said that Texas’s anti-sex-toy-law (memorably mocked by Molly Ivins in this video, available at youtube via pandagon) is unconstitutional, relying heavily on Lawrence (or so I hear, via pharyngula); I haven’t read the case yet).

This looks like a pretty clear Circuit split with the 11th Circuit (Georgia, Alabama, etc.), which only a couple of years ago found a similar Alabama law to not violate the Constitution (PDF, Williams v. Atty General of Alabama, 11th Cir. (2004)); the Supreme Court denied cert on that one. (See Michael C. Dorf discussion at FindLaw for an overview that discusses this case with respect to the various standards in Constitutional Law.)

I really wish that we could have a penumbra of no stupid laws.

something old, something new

natch.net posts an old entertainment industry license — a patent license on a 1906 recording.

and encryption awesomeness: firegpg. works beautifully in gmail. if you’re a mac user you’ll have to specify the gpg path in firefox tools > gpg > options; the default install is /usr/local/bin/gpg . (joe hall who pointed it to me is also awesome.)

riveting

James Comey’s testimony Tuesday before Congress was riveting.

data mining & online information

Today is a beautifully misty day, perfect for leisurely procrastination from holiday tasks like installing back-up hard drives for the mom-in-law. (Well, “in-law” if we were in Mass.; everywhere else in the US, “mom-in-out-law”.) So naturally I found myself doing a little backlog reading of blogs that I don’t read every day, and was fortunate to see Lauren Weinstein’s post from early November, considering the privacy implications of online digital libraries.:

Our hero Aton (actually, “hero” isn’t really the right word) visits a planet that is basically the known galaxy’s central library. It has almost literally endless stacks of books collected over centuries, still kept (for now, but probably not much longer) for historical reasons, even though nearly all of their contents have long since been available via computers from anywhere in the galaxy.

When Aton shows up, one of the few librarians is very pleased to have a visitor — they’re few and far between — and offers to help Aton with some reference work in the stacks.

The librarian immediately and correctly deduces (in an offhand remark) that since Aton wants to use the stacks, he is probably looking for illicit information, given that all attempts to access “proscribed” data though the computers is automatically logged and reported, even though such information would not be accessible. But the stacks are far too vast to be selectively expunged.

[Discussing Piers Anthony's Chthon.] Watching all the news coming down the pike about Bush Admin. domestic surveillance, Lauren’s post seems particularly relevant.

Reader, I married fafblog.

It was the only thing to do, after such postings as:

There’s No “War” in “Warrant”1 (12/17):

So George Bush secretly authorized the NSA to spy on Americans without warrants or judicial oversight. Oh, it violates your civil liberties, oh, it illegally breaks the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, oh, that tape of you and your boyfriend having phone sex has been playing in the NSA break room for a month and a half. Well boo hoo hoo! Do you hear that sound, America? It is the world’s tiniest violin playing just for your civil liberties. You can hear it in excellent quality sound because it has been bugged by the NSA. …

“Oh but Giblets the president’s executive order is illegal” you say. That’s the kind of namby-pamby whining that would have the U.S. follow “international opinion” and “the Geneva conventions” and “U.S. law.”

Fafblog followed up on the no-FISA-needed Executive Order with The King of Freedom (12/23):

…How soon we forget the lessons of September 11th! Faced with a threat unlike any before, America can no longer afford its cumbersome system of unwieldy checks and balances. Instead it must nimbly respond to terror with a single, streamlined, omnipotent executive branch. Instead of waiting for critical domestic spying programs to pass through Congress, where bickering Senators can selfishly subject them to public scrutiny, an efficient White House can put them into practice so quickly the country doesn’t discover them for another four years.

All the usual suspects have begun ringing all the usual alarm bells, calling the president’s new powers unconstitutional or even dictatorial. This, of course, is absurd. There remain numerous checks on the president’s powers, such as God, who may override the president’s veto with a two-thirds vote, and the president himself, who may bring himself to justice should he find himself to have violated his oath of office. Nor have Congress and the courts been rendered powerless, as all three branches of government have vital roles to play: the executive branch to be the president, the legislative branch to support the president, and the judicial branch to tell the president he is constitutional….

Fafblog’s coverage of the war on terror is also must-read-blogging: (World Without a PATRIOT Act, 12/17):

So I’m browsin through my local library checkin out the latest developments in shelving technology when Osama bin Laden jumps outta the card catalogue an hijacks the reference section!

“Oh no!” says me. “Stop him before he misfiles that almanac!”
“Mwa-hahaha, you’re too late!” says the terrorist mastermind escapin into the periodicals. “Now nothing can stop me from researching the history of your hometown’s spicy marmalade festival!”
“He’s in the microfiche,” says the crusty ol librarian. “We’ll never catch im now!”

Oh John Ashcroft, where are you when we need you most!

And see The Central Front in the War on Facts (12/8):

The usual antiwar suspects have been up in arms for well over a week over the military’s planting of covert propaganda in Iraqi newspapers, caterwauling about the undermining of a fundamental tenet of Iraqi democracy. As always, their concerns are wildly misplaced. First, shouldn’t a pretend democracy have a pretend free press? Second, most of these pieces weren’t factually inaccurate, but mere “spin” – such as the article that spun an Iraqi general’s death under torture as death under not-torture. Third, propaganda is merely a weapon. America’s leaders would be foolhardy indeed to refuse a weapon in their arsenal, especially against an adverary as deadly as the truth.

While it may not be the ideal of journalism in a free society, is this planted, pro-military propaganda so different from the anti-military truthaganda published every day in the New York Times? While military propaganda shows a bias towards distortion, obfuscation, and outright lies in the service of the war effort, the baleful face of the Mainstream Media shows a clear bias towards reporting reality – and reality has always been America’s greatest enemy in Iraq.

And the ongoing coverage of the torture?-we-don’t-torture-but-we-need-to-be-able-to-torture-(even-though-we-don’t-torture) story was as good as it gets; most recently with Let a Thousand Bad Apples Bloom (12/17) (“Rest assured, from this day forth, the detainees tortured in American military prisons will only be tortured by accident or happenstance, or by dozens of rogue soldiers acting in simultaneously and of their own accord.”)

And on domestic issues, Fafblog also nailed it with Nature’s Harmonious Money Cycle” (12/8):

So you can’t afford to heat your house and somebody went and cut your Medicaid and food stamps. “Oh no!” you say burnin a spare child for warmth. “Whatever will I do.”

… and righteously chastised us all about dangerous support for the HPV vaccine (God Bless the Plague, 11/17):

God created death and disease to provide a divine disincentive against soul-sullying sin. Can America afford to innoculate its children, insure its poor, and make peace with its neighbors if it means not living in fear of an insane, invisible overseer in the sky who barks at his creation in a series of mad, contradictory myths? Absolutely not. God bless the plague!

In conclusion, I highly recommend daily conjugal visits with fafblog (the worlds only source for fafblog).

war on us

oh happy day! The war on us is progressing nicely and soon we will have won the war against ourselves. Phones are being tapped willy-nilly and surely some of them will generate some useful information to allow us to be held without trial or access to the courts indefinitely under the president’s powers. The government is cracking down on those enemies of the state, video game retailers.

fafblog: there’s no war in warrant

morning tea round-up
  • Yahoo!’s historically less-than-stellar track record of protecting user privacy is made much, much worse by this news: Yahoo! turned over a user’s identity information to the Chinese government, and now journalist Shi Tao has been sentenced to ten years for “e-mailing a government’s plan to restrict media coverage around the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre”. [SJ Merc 10/2 editorial; see also Xeni Jardin in the LAT 10/9; and Open Letter to Jerry Yang, Yahoo!, from Liu Xiaobo, 2005 Oct. 7. ] The Merc thinks it’s “hard to blame Yahoo!” for this but wants them to more aggressively lobby on behalf of human rights. Me, I don’t find it hard to “blame” Yahoo! for what they did. The individuals at Yahoo! who made the decision to hand over accurate information made a choice: company profits and business model over the freedom of a journalist. I guess they were just doing what they were told. [link from ping]

  • The Bush Admin. has never really had a sense of humor about parodies. The latest brouhaha is about The Onion’s use of the presidential seal. [cnn 10/26] White House spokesperson Trent Duffy:

    “When any official sign or seal is being used inappropriately the party is notified. … You cannot pick and choose where to enforce that rule. It’s important that the seal or any White House insignia not be used inappropriately.”

    The Onion editor-in-chief, Scott Dikkers:

    “I’ve been seeing the presidential seal used in comedy programs most of my life and to my knowledge none of them have been asked not to use it by the White House. … I would advise them to look for that other guy Osama … rather than comedians. I don’t think we pose much of a threat.”

  • George Takei - Live Queer and Prosper

    George Takei (“Mr.
    Sulu”) vamps it up.

    Mr. Sulu George Takei is gay! His new role in “Equus” apparently “inspire[d] him” to come out. I have to say, I am deeply gratified to finally have some queer representation on Star Trek. Although looking at this picture, it seems like the official coming out was, well, redundant. [Jason Schultz has a nice photo for Sulu fans, and SFGate 11/10 has a lot more details.]

    Between Mr. Sulu Takei and WNBA triple-MVP winner Sheryl Swoopes, National Coming Out Day came out a little late, but strong. [Women's Hoops blog links to lots of Swoopes coverage.]

  • Research about five years ago showed that even as women athletes were setting records and breaking into new fields, sports photographers were increasingly minimizing and downplaying women’s athleticism. (Also at Women’s eNews. See also Womens Sports Foundation. That was in 2000, and a flurry of scholarship around that time evaluated that phenomena. A year or so later, the Smithsonian launched a traveling tour of sports photography of female athletes, Game Face (which I caught in DC at the time). Women’s ascendance in sports in the last five years has continued apace, and I wonder if there have been follow-up studies….

  • Chinese women bloggers are doing the sex blog thing. (This is at least the second or third such similar article on Asian women bloggers and sexuality that I’ve seen in the last year or so. News coverage about the Chinese government frowning or cracking down on this or that is fairly routine, I know. But I can’t help but wonder how much of the coverage is due to the starting! shocking! news that Asian women bloggers are blogging about sex, and how much of it is because white Western journalists are surprised to see such goings-on. Hey, I’m told that even in Boston, beans do it.)

  • Speaking of blogging, the NYT is trying to get “hip” to this newfangled “blogging” thing, and you can really see the results. In one article recently, the Times “jazzed up” their content with “hyperlinks”: the article included one link on the name of a state to NYT coverage about that state. And yesterday & today the coverage of the Scooter Libby resignation made me snigger with this bullet point: “Reactions: Bush. Cheney. Bloggers.” But I shouldn’t make fun, because the NYT also gave me a happy moment with its briefly-posted blurb for the Scooter Libby thing, which went something like this: “Scooter Libby indicted; steps down; Bush-Cheney no comment; Karl Rove not indicted.” The mere fact that Karl Rove’s non-indictment is news sends a warm glow all the way down to my toes, and I thank the NYT for that little moment of joy.

  • National science standards groups are registering their disapproval of Kansas’ new “science plus! religion” standards. Unfortunately, they’re using copyright to do so. [nyt 10/28]

  • The Washington Post trashes the E-Rate, the telecomm. tax-funded grant to schools & libraries for Internet access. [WPost 10/27]

zealous cooperation with the state

Follow-up on the seizure of IndyMedia servers from a few months (a year?) ago: Apparently, when Rackspace claimed that they were seized by the FBI, what Rackspace should have said is, “We seized them for the FBI.” Volokh Conspiracy [7/31] takes the opportunity to issue a gentle ‘i told you so’: the FBI was right & proper & all the blame is on rackspace. EFF has more details on the investigation.

VC [specifically, Orin Kerr] goes a bit further than merely saying that his skepticism was borne out: He suggests this is an all too common pattern for online civil rights stories: lots of press, hints and allegations against the government, refusal to comment by the government, all combining to produce a lot of noise and little heat. This version of the story tracks a general conservative theme, which is that government is good, and media is bad for portraying government as (occasionally) bad.

Hmm. As an ‘I-told-you-so’, this is not the strongest case. Members of the online press may cover these stories in their online-centric work (especially on the IndyMedia sites, of course), but the Indymedia-Rackspace-FBI story barely cracked a back-section in the offline world. I would hazard a guess that the vast majority of such claims, offline or online, get little or no media attention. And it so happens that in this particular instance, the press coverage focused on Rackspace as well as the FBI. (Also, the comments section points out that it may not actually be an all-Rackspace-to-blame situation; the FBI may have unofficially exerted pressure that doesn’t show up in the official documents as censored and released. I respect Orin Kerr a hell of a lot, but it was pretty amusing to see him display what looked like a naive trust in the uprightness of his former fellow government employees: I don’t understand. …. Are you suggesting that the FBI may have pushed Rackspace to hand over the physical servers instead of the logs?.)

Nevertheless, the incident and its follow-up led me to meditate on the state of society. One might indeed be thankful that the FBI is not directly strong-arming ISPs to take servers, or at least didn’t in this instance, and still feel disheartened by an attitude that seems to encourage over-zealous cooperation by private entities with governmental authority.

Indeed, zealous coooperation with misguided and even truly evil state policies pretty much seems to be the rule rather than the exception. A repressive society is never created by state officials alone. State officials help to establish a climate; zealous private followers spread that climate. One has only to think of the fascist governments of the 1930s for an example; the McCarthy hearings (should we call it an era?) provides another. In fact, almost all efforts by a government to drum up support for a war end up working hand-in-hand with an awful lot of aggressive over-reaction and over-support by patriotic volunteers — e.g., Judith Miller and her NYT editors’ roles in disseminating White House propaganda prior to the invasion of Iraq. Whatever Miller’s role in the propagandizing effort, her NYT editors weren’t government conspirators; they were merely cooperative. CBS’ delays in breaking the Abu Ghraib story were likewise cooperative efforts by private citizens. Anybody can see, in action, at any time, individuals privately pushing someone else’s agenda; examples abound, today and every day.

Which is why I am nervous when government officials accept the fruits of private misdeeds. And why I am pretty unconcerned with the ‘poor FBI’ picture that Kerr paints. Indeed, I have very little sympathy for any institution suffering an examination of its use of power.

Institutions ought to self-police, and I have no doubt that the FBI writes and trains agents with numerous rulebooks laying out the legal limitations on agents’ actions. But it only has those rulebooks because of the vigorous policing efforts of private citizens who are not zealously cooperating. Self-policing is never enough. People with access to power naturally seek to accumulate more, and multi-individual, multi-individual institutions that retain power, especially governments, foster that tendency. This isn’t a secret; it’s why the founders attempted to establish a government whose powers were “limited”. But since self-policing is never enough, it is essential that anybody subject to power police its exercise. The media provides an opportunity for citizens to police state power. Such policing is only possible by turning a light onto the actions of the state agents. Media inquiries into police actions are, in that sense, sort of like a supervisor inquring about an employee’s use of departmental resources. One would imagine in a well-run department that such inquiries would be routine, even anticipated by reports, and certainly not the subject of lamentations. As conservatives sometimes like to say: If they’ve got nothing to hide, then they won’t mind a little scrutiny.

Related posts: 2004/10/8

owning photographs

In the fourth & final entry in Salon.com’s series on ‘ex-gay’ therapy ministries ['True confessions'], the writer describes how one ex-ex-gay’s attempt to control photographs of him is thwarted by copyright:

On the front page of the Exodus International Web site is a photograph of several dozen men and women. The allegedly changed homosexuals, or newly minted ex-gays, are beaming at the camera, apparently celebrating their newfound freedom from homosexuality. Standing in the center of the photograph is 29-year-old Shawn O’Donnell, who was enrolled in Exodus programs on and off for 10 years.

Exodus is the umbrella organization, information clearinghouse and referral service for “ex-gay ministries.”

The only problem with the Exodus photo is that O’Donnell is still gay.

Recently, O’Donnell asked Exodus president Alan Chambers to take his photo off the Exodus Web site. But Chambers, O’Donnell says, told him that Exodus owns the picture and it still signifies that people can change. “I said, ‘How can you say that is true when I know there are at least three people in that picture who have not changed?’” Exodus did not return my calls seeking comment about the photo.

This is a common misconception: people think they ‘own’ the photographs taken of them. In fact, no, they may own the prints of the photographs. But the photographer holds (‘owns’) the copyright, as the ‘author’ of the work. This FAQ written for photographers gives an idea of how photographers interpret copyright:

Even if one were to purchase an original portrait that was specially commissioned, the purchaser would only be able to frame and display the work. Unless the parties otherwise agree, the artist owns the copyright and the work cannot be copied or reproduced. Thus, without permission, the subject of the portrait cannot even make a holiday card from the painting.

Thus, some photofinishing labs (like Wal-Mart) have taken to refusing to duplicate photos that look ‘professional’ unless the holder has permission from the photographer. [See 5/30 story in sandiego.com; related commentary & links Ex Cathedra 6/8; Derivative Work 6/17]

hearing on federal prosecution of artist

Federal prosecutors responded yesterday (5/17) to a motion to dismiss federal wire fraud charges against artist Steven Kurtz (Critical Art Ensemble). This bizarre & ridiculous prosecution continues against all common sense, which I can only guess is par for the course for the Ashcroft/Gonzalez DOJ.

derived from: ap 5/17 and caedefensefund.org press release 5/17

2008/4/25 update: Nice to be able to come back to something with a happy ending, even years later. Sivacracy reports that the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the criminal indictments were dismissed. Finally some freakin’ justice.

ip/tech news & really stupid & annoying republicans
  • wiretaps increased last year: Wiretaps in U.S. Jump 19 Percent in 2004 [sfgate 4/28] i’m pondering whether the wiretappers’ efficiency also increased? can they scan information more quickly now? did governments take cops off the streets to put them in surveillance vans? or did the governments hire a bunch of new wiretappers? hmm, all sorts of interesting new questions. SFGate says the investigators pursued “drug and other cases.” Where are the much-vaunted terrorists against whom the PATRIOT Act wiretap expansions were supposed to be used? The non-terrorist taps increased 28%, which means the terrorist-related taps increased, well, very approximately, by 10%? One final editorial comment: These are actual wiretaps. Approved by the courts. Nobody bothers to cite the numbers of wiretaps denied by the courts. Why? Because courts always, always say yes. Thank god for that impartial third branch protecting us from the tyranny of the executive.
  • european libraries kick-start their own digitization campaigns. [DW 2005/4/27] Excellent. How many years has it been since Michael Hart started project gutenberg? followed by numerous small-scale digitizing projects at individual libraries & museums? I guess PG didn’t quite pose sufficient “risk of a crushing American domination in the definition of how future generations conceive the world.” Well, if it took google to kick-start the digitization of the world, I can only say hurrah, what took you all so long?
  • the criminalization of copyright continues apace. [sigh]
  • what was DeLay’s beef with Kennedy doing his own research on the Internet, anyway? doesn’t DeLay have enough to keep him busy? DeLay is really trying hard to compete for the title Chief Dumbass.

    “Absolutely. We’ve got Justice Kennedy writing decisions based upon international law, not the Constitution of the United States? That’s just outrageous,” DeLay told Fox News Radio. “And not only that, but he said in session that he does his own research on the Internet? That is just incredibly outrageous.”

    seattle times 4/20 linked from politechbot.

  • also in the running for Chief Dumbass, Sen. Rick Santorum. In this episode, however, Santorum isn’t so much a Dumbass as he is, well, really annoying. Santorum complains that the National Weather Service is giving away its data for free, and introduces a bill to stop that dastardly practice. I guess under his model we could write scripts that generate FOIA requests for weather data. Or does he think the data should be classified? Or maybe the government shouldn’t be gathering it at all? That must be it, because then we wouldn’t have to track that pesky global climate change. It really reminds me of the old Census story: One citizen responded to on their Census form, “You can find all this in your almanac, and then you wouldn’t have to take the Census.” Anyway … the folks at the carpetbagger report explain the donations & big business constituents behind this bit of annoying arrogance & stupidity. Why are Pennsylvanians tolerating this fool?