aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, November 24, 2006
6 new DMCA exemptions
The Copyright Office has created six new exemptions to the hated Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which makes it a crime to break any digital lock, even if you’re doing so for a legitimate purpose.
Every three years, the Copyright Office hears petitions for exemptions to this sweeping rule. This year, it created six exemptions, including one for film profs, another for gamers whose consoles have gone obsolete, blind people, and cell-phone recyclers.
However, the office refused to grant exemptions that would benefit the general public—space- and format-shifting, backing up your DVDs—and they took back an earlier exemption that let people reverse-engineer the blacklists maintained by censorware companies to bring some transparency to their process.
Sunstein on Marshall
The University of Chicago Law School chapter of the Black Law Students Association is holding a series of talks in honor of the 40th anniversary of Thurgood Marshall’s appointment to the Supreme Court.
All sound interesting; the first was outstanding. It was from Cass Sunstein who clerked for Marshall in the 1979-80 term. He concludes his 50 minute remarks by quoting a speech Marshall gave in 1987 commenting on the bicentennial celebration of the constitution:
I cannot accept this invitation [to speak at the founding], for I do not believe that the meaning of the Constitution was forever “fixed” at the Philadelphia Convention. Nor do I find the wisdom, foresight, and sense of justice exhibited by the Framers particularly profound. To the contrary, the government they devised was defective from the start, requiring several amendments, a civil war, and momentous social transformation to attain the system of constitutional government, and its respect for the individual freedoms and human rights, we hold as fundamental today. When contemporary Americans cite “The Constitution,” they invoke a concept that is vastly different from what the Framers barely began to construct two centuries ago. [...]
If we seek, instead, a sensitive understanding of the Constitution’s inherent defects, and its promising evolution through 200 years of history, the celebration of the “Miracle at Philadelphia” will, in my view, be a far more meaningful and humbling experience. We will see that the true miracle was not the birth of the Constitution, but its life, a life nurtured through two turbulent centuries of our own making, and a life embodying much good fortune that was not.
Thus, in this bicentennial year, we may not all participate in the festivities with flagwaving fervor. Some may more quietly commemorate the suffering, struggle, and sacrifice that has triumphed over much of what was wrong with the original document, and observe the anniversary with hopes not realized and promises not fulfilled. I plan to celebrate the bicentennial of the Constitution as a living document, including the Bill of Rights and the other amendments protecting individual freedoms and human rights.
Still enthralled by The Wisdom of Crowds, I recently waxed poetic on the brilliant system of nondemocratic checks and balances established by the Founding Fathers that had the effect of filtering up the emergent intelligence of the national crowd.
I’d better be careful! What was I thinking?
There may well be some truth to the notion that the obstacles to direct democracy had the unintended effect of facilitating some emergent intelligence, but the direct effects of legislative electoral compromises, as I was eloquently reminded while hearing then rereading Marshall’s words, were far more costly than we like to think.