aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Monday, June 13, 2005
Bloggers, know your rights
Whether you’re a newly minted blogger or a relative old-timer, you’ve been seeing more and more stories pop up every day about bloggers getting in trouble for what they post… Freedom of speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Internet bullies shouldn’t use the law to stifle legitimate free expression. That’s why EFF created this guide, compiling a number of FAQs designed to help you understand your rights… The goal here is to give you a basic roadmap to the legal issues you may confront as a blogger, to let you know you have rights, and to encourage you to blog freely with the knowledge that your legitimate speech is protected.
An ominous encroachment on the First Amendment
Forty-four states now enforce some version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, first drafted in 1979 by the National Conference of Commissions on Uniform State Laws. According to the NCCUSL, the law classifies as “trade secrets” company information “of commercial value” that “is not generally known to others and is not readily ascertainable by proper means.” According to an excellent March 28 article in the Mac-oriented publication MWJ, those laws and related court rulings have established that “trade secrets are information, and information is property.” Publishing or even sharing that information, then, is legally tantamount to abetting theft.
In May 1998, for example, the Cincinnati Enquirer ran a damning 22-article investigation of the Latin American activities of Chiquita Banana, the company whose checkered history south of the border originally inspired the term banana republic. The series, which alleged bribery, cover-ups, and other malfeasance, was never challenged on the facts. Yet the paper retracted the whole package, apologized, and handed Chiquita a $14 million settlement after the company falsely accused reporter Mike Gallagher of “stealing” 2,000 internal voice mails. (He had actually obtained them from a willing inside source.)
Gallagher was summarily fired. Far from defending him, the nation’s journalism reviews and media critics joined Chiquita and the Enquirer in denouncing his “ethics.” ("On the question of stealing voice mail,” Pulitzer Prize-winning Los Angeles Times media critic David Shaw told Editor & Publisher, “you don’t do it.") No major newspaper, to my knowledge, ever followed up on Gallagher’s reporting.
They’re all working for giant companies that have plenty of their own trade secrets. Like my friend, they think this an entirely reasonable First Amendment exception, “That’s capitalism, that’s how the market works.”
So on the blogger as journalist question, do we restrict the protections to journalists?
I think the First Amendment should be applied as broadly as possible, I want the government to have less power to compel information from citizens, and I want maximum latitude in my work...If bloggers are left unshielded, that will only serve to enlarge an already conspicuous paradox: that the people with the most press freedom seem the least willing to use it.
The future of video blogging
“How is some little tiny digital camera the future of video?” (imaginary friend)
Most digital cameras shoot stills and video but how many of them are tiny and shoot good quality stills and video? This camera does both 5 megapixel stills and 30 frames per second at a 640 X 480 resolution. What does that mean? It means the video quality is good enough to watch on a television.
“That’s great but who cares? My current camcorder does that too.”
Your camcorder does a great job of recording events but it fails at when it comes time to do anything with the footage… The process of shooting video directly to disk (hard drive or a memory card) eliminates that arduous process of logging and capturing video footage from tape. Every time you start and stop shooting video on this little camera it creates a new video file. This file becomes like any other file on a hard disk… In the near future consumer level video editing systems will be able to create automatic movies for you. Just think of how you create slide-shows in iPhoto now…
Duncan calls it Smart Automatic Movies. If you’re at all interested in this kind of thing you have to go and read every single word of what he has to say. He is 100% right. I particularly like this:
I’m a tech nerd and I have Final Cut Pro and all that editing jazz and video is still far too time consuming. This changes with this little camera. The combination of ultra portability and direct to disk capture of these new hybrid still/video cameras will bring a whole new world of possibilities for the consumer level video world not unlike what has happened with digital photography.
And, I might add, just as bloggers have impacted journalism, once those who were limited to being “consumers” become “producers” they will shake up TV big-time. Remember what cable did to networks? Look out!
A voting ban that goes too far
City Journal, normally a fairly sane conservative publication, has a piece up strongly arguing that anyone ever convicted of a felony is a felon for life, and should never be allowed to vote--with a lengthy rant about how allowing felons to vote will help Democrats and hurt Republicans.
While there is a certain irony to the notion that Democrats seem anxious to boost the convict vote because they know it will help them, I have to say I find Republican attempts to ban anyone who was ever convicted of anything to be, uhm, what’s the word? Oh yeah: draconian.
What on Earth ever happened to the mentality in this country that once you’d worked off your sentence and paid your debt to society, you were a free man (or woman) and no longer persecuted?
A smoking ban that goes too far
June 13, 2005—ALBANY - Thousands of New Yorkers living in public housing could soon be banned from smoking in their apartments.
Brooklyn Democratic Assemblyman Felix Ortiz said his legislation would immediately require public housing complexes to make 50 percent of their apartments smoke-free.
By 2010, smoking in the projects would be outlawed completely, Ortiz said.
Via The News Blog: “I hate smoking myself, but this is ridiculous.”
Public television: use it before we lose it
A repeat telecast of Frontline’s Is Wal-Mart Good for America is scheduled for this week. If you missed it, catch it this time (check local listings). Here’s my reaction to the program: excellent. This is what I call must see TV.