Great Free Legal Resources in Washington State - I got an E-mail from David Goodson, who pointed out the following after reading a recent post here:
"I too am an attorney and your blog about internet legal research caught my eye - particularly your reference to state law research. ...what I really want to tell you about is that here in WA you can send an email query to a the state law librarian in Olympia and they will send you back an answer. I had [a] case where I needed legislative history for a law I was challenging. I spent hours and hours looking for it the conventional way without much luck so I sent them an email and within ten minutes I had a response with copies of everything I needed. and best of all it was free."
Now that sounds like a good system, and hopefully it will be the norm for other states in the coming years.
Juror E-mails Plaintiff-Lawyer Blogger - this is an interesting E-mail that was sent by a former juror to InstaLawyer (a plaintiff-lawyer blog). It's always fascinating to get an inside view into the mindset of a jury, even if it comes from just one of the jurors.
What's Up, Doc?. "Like many of you, I was shocked when I learned that my buddy Doc had his laptop stolen. What a crock! Well, it's time to give back to the man who's given so much to this community. I've set up a PayPal donation link. Let's get that man a new friggin' PowerBook! The 15" SuperDrive model is only $2,799.00. If every regular Doc follower donates a few bucks to the fund, he'll have a new machine in no time at all. I'm using firstname.lastname@example.org for this particular campaign, and I swear (on my chest) that all monies will be given to him. If you're going to pass the link around, please keep an eye on this particular blog post, as I'll kill the PayPal item as soon as enough has been generated...." [C:PIRILLO.EXE ~ Chris Pirillo]
These things happen, but at least we can do something useful about it. [via McGee's Musings]
Yeah, let's do something about it. Doc Searls needs a new laptop, and the blogosphere needs Doc Searls. This is a no brainer.
Insurance pricing based on pre-existing coverage - Dave Winer of Scripting News has a legal question involving Massachusetts llaw: "A friend told me something yesterday that I find hard to believe. He said that in Massachusetts it's against the law for insurance companies to price based on pre-existing conditions, or to even ask about them. I can't believe it. Is it true?"
Any legal eagles know the answer that Dave seeks?
I did a quick computer search and it looks like Massachusetts Statutes section 176 has some relevant provisions (i.e. 176K sec 3 prohibits discrimination based on pre-existing conditions for Medicare insurance). Also there is an Attorney General Opinion that keeps popping up in the Notes of Decision behind some of the insurance statute (Op Atty Gen, May 18th, 1986, p.106) that seems interesting.
Harlan's IP Law Blog - is up and running. It is the creation of James Harlan, who appears to be a lawyer practicing IP law in Michigan. Since it's a Radio-powered blog it has an XML feed. Welcome!
Don't give the customer what they want - Last night I was watching the TechTV show called ScreenSavers, which I highly recommend if you want to learn about computers and technology. Anyway, there was a discussion about Microsoft's next generation desktop operating system, which for now is apparently being code-named Longhorn. The main feature of this future operating system will be some form of DRM component (i.e. Palladium, or whatever it's being called now).
DRM is "digital rights management." DRM is the dream of copyright holders everywhere, or at least those who want to maximize their profit. It is the Death Star that is being deployed to destroy the evil P2P File Sharing Empire. And, even though Microsoft's efforts at security have been lacuna-like in the past, one has to believe, (given the profit motive), that the new effort will be more successful.
It will work by denying the PC owner the right to use his computer in a manner that is deemed improper by the "software authorities." Their goal is not to honor Fair Use or to allow computer users any leeway that currently exists. The goal is to maximize control for companies that create software, and if that takes away some of what users have now (i.e. making a legitimate backup of software that they own), then that's really besides the point. According to Microsoft.
None of what was discussed on the SreenSavers was really news to me. But hearing it discussed reminded me of something that I had forgotten. Microsoft and the PC-centric world seems to care little about its customers' wants.
The other thing that, serendiptously, happened to me yesterday was meeting someone who works at a big law firm and has made the switch (in his personal life) from Windows to Apple. He had a really cool laptop with OSX, and he was telling me about his switch. For the first time I was able to quiz someone who really knows computers about the consequences of switching from PC to Macintosh. The consequences, I found out, are that your computer doesn't crash constantly, and can run really sleek software that multi-tasks well.
As I was ruminating on the possibility of a new Apple I fired up the TiVo and watched the Daily Show's recap on the recent budget. John Stewart joked that in the new multi-Trillion dollar budget proposed by the President was an unnoticed allocation of a couple of billion to give everyone in the country a new iPod. I laughed, but then I became grim-faced. I want an iPod, and I want cool tech tools. But, most of all, I want my various devices to talk to one another. I don't want my devices to be locked up by The Big Software Boss. I don't steal software. I buy a lot of it, and a lot of it ain't cheap. Oh, maybe the PCs that run them are inexpensive, but what do you get for that?
Apple products are a little more expensive, but I think that's because Apple is always pushing to give their customers things that are cutting edge. Things like firewire, Wi-Fi, and now Rendezvous. After talking to my new friend Bill I realized that most of what I do with my computer relates to protocos and file formats that are cross-platform (i.e. JPGs, PDFs, HTML, MP3s, Wi-Fi). So I think that when it comes time to investigate buying a new laptop for my home use, I'm going to look hard at the Apples. And something tells me its going to be hard for me to resist buying one. Microsoft is apparently going to pitch in and help convince me.