aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
New Jersey’s highest court ruled on Wednesday that gay couples are entitled to the same legal rights and financial benefits as heterosexual couples, but ordered the Legislature to decide whether their unions must be called marriage or could be known by another name.
In a decision filled with bold and sweeping pronouncements about equality, the New Jersey Supreme Court gave the Democratic-controlled Legislature 180 days to either expand existing laws or come up with new ones to provide gay couples benefits including tuition assistance, survivors’ benefits under workers’ compensation laws, and spousal privilege in criminal trials.
All seven justices agreed that the state’s Constitution demands full legal rights for same-sex partners. But its ruling, 4 to 3, revealed a split in how to proceed.
Now let’s see who gets more energized. Moments ago Chris Bowers moved New Jersey from “Lean Democratic” to “Toss Up.” I say that we’re going to be more motivated than they are.
There was discussion on Talk of the Nation this afternoon that the Democrats don’t know how to do mid-term election turn out because they don’t play to the base. I’ll buy that. But this decision does.
We’ve been loosing too long on this issue; we’re real hungry for a win. I think we’ll see it. In New Jersey.
LATER: The Republicans are going to spend what it takes to be sure I’m not right. I still think they lose.
The demise of Free Use
Perhaps motivated by my earlier post of Fair Use resources, with a librarian today I discussed the decline of free use as described by Larry Lessig in this podcast of a Princeton University panel on Creativity and I.P. Law: How Intellectual Property Law Fosters or Hinders Creative Work, and again in an answer to a question from Stephen Johnson at The Battle Over Books panel Wired magazine presented at the New York Public Library.
I said something like:
The freedom to read - in a library; from a borrowed book or from a book you bought - is a “free use.” In the digital realm...because every use requires a copy, every time we engage in any use it must be justified as either a “licensed use” or a “fair use.”
Once there were three kinds of uses: “free use,” “licensed use,” and “fair use.” If the content industry’s view prevails, in the world they’d like to construct, one day soon there will no longer be “free use.” There will only be “licensed use” or “fair use.”
This, I agree, is a serious, significant and culturally tragic loss. I urge you to hear his message too.
Dateline and the wankers
Sacha Zimmerman writing in The New Republic looks at Dateline’s “To Catch A Predator Series:”
[A]fter eight shoots and 15 hours of broadcast episodes of one predator after another--after another, after another--it’s clear this is no longer informative; it’s just lurid. [Gotcha “journalist” Chris] Hansen is not the heroic investigative reporter he pretends to be; he’s an entertainer, creating a black-and-white world of good and evil that allows the audience to cheer as bad guys are taken out, while simultaneously appealing to viewers’ own twisted perversions.
Dateline performs this feat with the help of Perverted Justice ("PeeJ"), the not-quite-vigilante anti-predator online organization that poses as underage victims to lure in the would-be perverts:
[I]f enticing would-be predators to “Dateline“‘s hungry cameras seems a little, well, predatory, it is. Meet Xavier Von Erck, PeeJ’s founder. The 27-year-old Kevin Smith look-alike, a self-professed “Childless Atheist Libertarian,” told Radar magazine that he dropped out of community college when a “‘productive Internet addiction’ ruined my studies, which I were [sic] not all that interested in anyways.” That “productive Internet addiction” is, of course, posing as young girls and boys on MySpace as a way of outing predators. Funny thing about that: “Age play” is it’s own form of fetish. But, then, why shouldn’t Von Erck enjoy himself while saving the world from predators?
And saving us is very gratifying indeed. According to “Beef the Troll"--"Red Baroness“‘s husband and a three-year PeeJ employee who thinks that his background in “theatre” and “improv” combined with an “overdeveloped sense of justice” make him a good fit for the job of seducing pedophiles--there is nothing like sitting down to watch a “‘Dateline’ piece and enjoy the satisfying sight of seeing 50+ men who thought they were meeting a child for sex instead be confronted with TV cameras and hauled away in cuffs!” Viewers evidently agree. The show is a ratings bonanza for NBC.
She points to the Perverted Justice Wankers Page, “a collection of masturbatory pornographic videos sent to the PeeJs when they were posing as kids.” I went and it was sad and pathetic. These guys looked every bit like the perverted losers they were cast to be.
Though Hansen and Perverted Justice maintain that they always leave punishment to the proper authorities, these strange bedfellows never reflect on the fact that exposure is punishment itself. Take Hansen’s reaction to the harried pace of interrogating one predator after another as scheduled “dates” begin to pile up throughout the night: “It would be easy to start to feel sorry for some of these guys, but it’s almost as if there’s not enough time,” He wrote on his behind-the-scenes blog. “There’s always another guy on the way.”
It is almost as if the folks at “Dateline” have been seduced themselves. Without even a whiff of self-awareness, “Dateline” recently aired an interview with Debra LaFave, the statuesque platinum blonde teacher who was convicted of having sex with her 14-year-old student. But, unlike the men on “To Catch A Predator” who are whisked off to law enforcement after being stunned by Hansen’s sudden appearance and who barely have time to get their bearings, LaFave was presented as a complex woman. Raped at 13 and later diagnosed with a bipolar disorder, she possessed myriad factors that led to her present circumstance, and “Dateline” took the time to address them. While the program never denied her responsibility--and LaFave herself admits to full culpability--it did present a more complete portrait than Hansen could ever hope to convey.
So “Dateline” is at least capable of looking more deeply at a story than the easy headline would suggest--or it is when an attractive blonde is at the center of the account. But, back in hidden-camera land with Chris Hansen, the middle-aged male predators that PeeJ ropes in for the program just aren’t sexy enough to be treated fairly. On “To Catch A Predator,” the world is a stark place where evil men are brought to their knees for our enjoyment. By all means, get these guys away from our children, but serving it up as entertainment is gross--and it certainly isn’t journalism.
WHILE ON THE TOPIC: Say No to Prop 83 in CA, and even if you’re not in CA take the time to read danah’s excellent listing of the reasons why.
Coming in the Sunday NYTimes:
NEXT Memorial Day weekend, Cunard’s behemoth liner the Queen Mary 2 will depart for a routine six-day Atlantic crossing from New York to Southampton, England, with the usual white-glove service, decadent cuisine and formal evening wear after sundown. The difference this time: practically all the guests aboard the 2,592-passenger cruise will be gay. It’s a first for Cunard. The line signed a deal earlier this year with RSVP Vacations, a gay travel company that has chartered the ship. The agreement is one sign among many of gay cruises’ progression into the mainstream of cruise travel.
Most gay-cruise operators run charter businesses, paying cruise lines to use their ships and crews. In the early days of gay cruises, about 20 years ago, that often meant working with little-known lines or securing second-tier ships. Itineraries often included just a handful of gay-friendly destinations. But as the overall rate in the growth of passengers and spending has slowed in recent years, the cruise industry has become keenly aware of the gay travel market, estimated at $55 billion and growing.
Gay travelers tend to take trips more often, stay longer and spend more than other travelers…
We won’t go to Jamaica but:
[W]hile a gay cruise charted by Atlantis Events was turned away from the Cayman Islands in 1997, this year 3,200 passengers on a similar cruise by the same company were greeted in the Caymans with rainbow-patterned welcome signs in some shop windows.[...]
In fact, gay cruises have become so popular that a reverse phenomenon is starting to emerge. “We’re finding a lot of gay travelers have straight friends who want to be a part of this,” said Tom de Rose, owner of Friends of Dorothy Travel in San Francisco. Because of this, he said, gay cruises are increasingly becoming “straight-friendly.”
Fair Use Resources
An “investigative newsletter” with an outrageous clause (since ammended) appended to its copyright notice on each and every page - “This article is copyright protected and Fair Use is not applicable.” [emphasis mine] - occasioned an interesting exchange (see the p.s.) and this important collection of Fair Use resources:
Three of the most comprehensive resources dealing with the topic of Fair Use are the Stanford University Copyright & Fair Use Center, the Fair Use Network (sponsored by the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU Law School), and Electronic Frontier Foundation with its EFF Legal Guide for Bloggers. You can find less comprehensive information at the U.S. Copyright Office site. The Stanford website offers information on all aspects of fair use — from basics to specialized issues, to legislative activity, to caselaw, to lists of relevant website and articles.
Here are some specific articles and webpages that may fit your needs:
-- The Chilling Effects Clearinghouse has an excellent set of Frequently Asked Questions about Copyright and Fair Use, with a nice summary of the four statutory factors. The FAQ answers the question Do I need permission from the copyright holder to make fair use? like this: “No. If your use is fair, it is not an infringement of copyright — even if it is without the authorization of the copyright holder. Indeed, fair use is especially important to protect uses a copyright holder would not approve, such as criticism or parodies. See Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, 510 US 569 (1994).” When at Chilling Effects, you might also want to check out Betsy Rosenblatt’s Copyright Basics.
--Kimberlee Weatherall (an academic Australian IP expert) and famed weblogging law professor Eugene Volokh offer 14 Copyright Tips for Bloggers, which looks at the issues from the perspective of both the copyright holder and the prospective Fair User.
-- Mary E. Carter’s eFuse article When Copying Is Okay is also a very useful document. As for the kind of copyright notice to use on your website, she advises: “Placing your copyright notice on your Web site is a start to protecting your copyrights on-line. Read some of the copyright notices on the Web sites of newspapers and other mainstream content providers for inspiration on how to word your notice. I generally recommend the simpler-is-better approach. Just place the “circle c” Ã‚Â©, or even just (C), and your name and the year of execution on the first page of your site and leave it at that.”
-- — Nolo.com has a basic discussion on the Fair Use rule (annoyingly spread over 4 pages). [Note: In a lengthy monograph, I disagree with its notion that a haiku poem is too small to every be quoted under Fair Use].
Admittedly, it is not always easy to know with certainty whether some assertions of the Fair Use exemption are appropriate. Nonetheless, the Fair Use Network correctly says that “Despite this unpredictability, it is important to assert fair use, and reject assumptions that all uses must be licensed and paid for.” And, Marjorie Heins put it well in the Online Journal Review (Feb. 23, 2006, via Ambrogi’s Media Law): “To the extent that fair use is not used, it will shrink, and to the extent that it is used and asserted, it will remain healthy and even grow.” Perhaps, the courts or legislature should explicitly decide, as suggested by Judge Posner at Lessig Blog in Fair Use and Misuse, that excessive claims to copyright protection through the denial of Fair Use rights amount to copyright abuse that forfeits the law’s protections until remedied.
Via Boing Boing.