Ernie the Attorney : searching for truth & justice (in an unjust world)
Updated: 6/5/2003; 10:32:52 PM.


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Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Judge takes a new approach to sentencing defendants.

Judge James Warren,  who presided over the dog-mauling trial in San Francisco, must be worn out.  He doesn't have the energy to sentence defendants any more.  Recently he took a break from a sentencing hearing, went into his chambers and came back with one of his spare robes, then told repeat drug offender Albert Brown to put it on and sentence himself.  The defendant gave himself six months of community service, which the judge agreed was an appropriate sentence. If the judge hadn't agreed, what would he do?  Appeal?  [SF Chronicle]

2:55:59 PM    

Marc Andreesen questions broadcast industry's effort to thwart copying

Speaking to the National Association of Broadcasters, Marc Andreessen told the  group that
efforts to copy protect music, movies and television shows are destined to fail. As a prime example he pointed to the software industry's  failed attempts at encryption as an ineffective, and expensive, effort to stop piracy. "If a computer can see it, display it and play it -- it can copy it," he said. []

2:34:08 PM    

ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law will argue for copyright term extension in Eldred case.

The April 2002 newsletter from Chairman Charles Baker explains the Section's decision to seek permission from the ABA to file a "friend of the court" brief (i.e. amicus brief) in favor of the constitutionality of the copyright term extension.  In Mr. Baker's words:

"The case could present a field day for those who have anti-IP sentiment --those who say information wants to be free, less protection is necessarily better, the public domain promotes the useful arts better than IP, and when technology advances, IP rights must be cut back."

I don't agree with what he says, and I think he grossly mistates the position of his opponents.   But one error is particularly glaring.  The people who are looking for a "field day" aren't trying to cut back IP rights; rather, in the Eldred case, they oppose extending the rights.  But he is preaching to his own choir, and I suppose that distinction will be lost....

12:43:02 PM    

Structure doesn't just happen ....

I'm definitely not the sort of person who craves structure.  In fact, I would say it's the opposite: I prefer flexibility. Yet, I find myself constantly thinking: how can I structure the information in my computer, and on our firm network, better?  Take our document management system (please!) for example.  I often find myself wondering things like "can we add a new descriptive field that identifies whether a pleading is for federal, as opposed to state, court?"  That would help when people are looking for a sample of a certain type of pleading.  That's a no-brainer; we should have such a field, and maybe others.  Or maybe we have some fields that we don't really need (if we add too many we could get to the point where it isn't worth the trouble of entering the data).

Structuring information.  To me that's an important issue, and deserves thought.  And so I would think that other people who do what I do (i.e. lawyers, or people in the legal profession) would also be pondering this sort of stuff.  I'm sure some people do, but not too many around where I operate.

I wonder also about why the structure inherent in the digital world is often treated differently than it is in the physical world.  For example, I notice that many people who are very organized and fastidious in the three-dimensional world (i.e. the world of objects upon which coffee can be spilled) are completely disorganized in the virtual world of software and other digital information.  Many of those people have trouble accepting the idea that they should apply their real-world regimen to the virtual world.  It's like they view computers as something that they can't control, and so they don't even try.  Or sometimes I get the feeling that they think that computers inherently create structure and so they don't have any responsibility to add to the organizational scheme.

Or maybe some people can adapt to and accept structure in a virtual world that aren't as willing to accept it in the real world?  I think that's true for me.   It may be true of others.  I noticed that Jim McGee said something similar about being less organized in the three-dimensional world than he is in the digital world.  Oh well, I'm sure there is some underlying significance to all of this, even though I don't know what exactly it is. But I do know one thing: structure doesn't just happen.  People have to produce it...even in the digital world of computers.

11:12:27 AM    

© Copyright 2003 Ernest Svenson.

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