July 2, 2022

Archives for November 2002

Rubenfeld on Copyright and the Constitution

October’s Yale Law Review has an interesting article by Jed Rubenfeld, entitled “The Freedom of Imagination: Copyright’s Constitutionality.” (Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer and not a legal scholar, so I’m not fully qualified to judge the scholarly merit of the article. What you’re getting here is my semi-informed opinion.)

Rubenfeld argues, convincingly in my view, that standard claims about copyright and freedom of speech don’t stand up to scrutiny. He argues that copyright as now enforced places unconstitutional limits on free speech.

He goes on to explore how copyright can be made constitutional. This involves a detour to discuss the meaning of the First Amendment, followed by the laying of a new framework for copyright. He finds that copyright’s ban on literal copying is constitutional, but the rules regarding derivative works need to be adjusted.

Whether this ultimately is correct is beyond me, but I think the article is worth reading if you’re interested in these issues. I would like to hear the opinions of any readers who are lawyers.

[Link credit: Kitchen Cabinet]

Tech Provisions in Homeland Security Bill

Orin Kerr, over at the Volokh Conspiracy, summarizes some tech-related provisions in the new Homeland Security bill.

The bill changes the sentences that can be assessed for some computer crimes. The effect of these changes is unclear but will likely be small. The widely discussed life-sentence-for-hacking provision applies only in cases when the crimes deliberately or recklessly kill people; but such crimes are already punishable under state murder statutes. There is also an increase in the penalty for intruding into people’s email.

The bill also makes some changes in wiretap law, granting more power to law enforcement. I won’t attempt to further compress Kerr’s already-compressed explanation; read it yourself if you’re interested.

UPDATE (12:49 PM): Ted Bridis points out that the life-sentence-for-hacking provision applies even to attempts to kill people. This might in some cases allow prosecutors too much leeway.

Why I Wike the Web

Evewy so often you discovew an onwine sewvice that you nevew knew you needed. My discovewy today is the Diawectizew, which twanswates any web page into one of eight mostwy humowous diawects. Oh, dat scwewy wabbit!

To wead the west of Fweedom to Tinkew in Ewmew Fudd diawect, cwick hewe.