Ernie the Attorney : searching for truth & justice (in an unjust world)
Updated: 6/5/2003; 10:33:08 PM.


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Sunday, April 14, 2002

Blogger - where did the term come from?

According to my sources, this term was used by a certain sect of Rugby players to refer to the most besotted member of the team, whose job it was to drink to the point of physical illness.  Okay.  I made that up.  But isn't that what it sounds like? 

8:54:12 PM    

Masters Sunday

Today I'm in heaven.  It's the final round of the Masters (which is the first major golf tournament of the year) and there is good weather and a strong field of players.  I don't know why I like golf so much, but I do.  And the Masters is a very special tournament.

But people who don't play golf can't understand why grown men and women would chase a small white ball, much less understand why one would watch them do it on TV. 

The Masters is a special event for a lot of reasons.  The course is absolutely beautiful, and the tournament is run with respect for the ideas that Bobby Jones had when he created the tournament back in the 1930's.  For example, the people who run the tournament let CBS broadcast the tournament, but they strictly limit the amount of commercial time that can be sold.  Obviously, they could make more money on the broadcast rights if they let CBS sell more commercial time.  But they aren't interested in making money; they want to preserve the dignity of the tournament.  I wonder how long they can keep that up?  Hopefully, forever.

1:29:41 PM    

My Favorite Lawyer Joke

is actually a Doonesbury cartoon.  The scene is a Congressional sub-committee hearing and a five-star general is testifying.  The chairman of the sub-committee says to the general "so what you're telling this committee, sir, is that if there were to be a major nuclear conflict, that we could rebuild this nation's economy to 70 percent of its capacity within five years?"

To which the general responds: "That's right Senator...unless, of course, a disproportionate number of lawyers survive."

Of course, this is really only funny because we all sense that our legal system often frustrates important business efforts.  And that's not really all that funny.  But I'm not sure what we can do about it....

1:12:58 PM    

Digital Rights - Make mine a double bartender.

We've got a problem with our perception of intellectual property rights in this country, and it's feeding a huge landgrab.  First it was the big media outlets, and now it's everyone else.  Find Law is reporting that some Times Square building owners are suing the makers of the "Spider-Man" movie for digitally altering a sign appearing in the motion picture.  I've already blogged about this problem of "clearing rights" and its warping effect on our collective perception of what copyright protection is all about.

Let's review:  Copyright protection is constitutionally recognized as a legal principle that is "for limited times" to "promote the useful arts and sciences."  The idea (which is the same idea for patent protection) is to give authors/creators a set of exclusive rights (that, again, are limited in time) to promote their creativity.  In other words, the law supplies some incentive and society gets some creative output.

So how does that equation cover a situation where someone owns a building that is filmed in a movie?  It obviously shouldn't (unless the building is really famous or something like that).  I mean, really!  Where is the creative output by the building owner of a random building in a well-populated city?  The law shouldn't protect that interest.  It just creates a situation where people can shakedown the film company.  So why doesn't Hollywood fight all of these land grabs and raise a stink about how it is crippling their ability to make films?  I guess it's because the marginal cost of having to clear rights (even to the point of paying people who might not really deserve it) is meaningless to a big budget film.  But it's not a small cost to the fledging filmmaker.  And so if you do the math you can see that the net effect is to hamper creativity, which is the opposite of "promoting" it.    This is another example of  how the law disconnects from common sense.

11:16:03 AM    

© Copyright 2003 Ernest Svenson.

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