22 April 2010

Impatient Link Sausages

Just a couple of amusing items... which should tell you more than you really want to know about my sense of humor.

  • I'm old enough to remember "conquering hearts and minds" as a principle of dealing with insurgency. We should just be glad that Guiding Light and General Hospital never became weapons of war in Saigon and the countryside... because that would almost certainly have violated some part of one of the Geneva Conventions. Or perhaps the Hague Convention prohibition on "dum-dum" bullets.
  • Then, we bear some (not all, but some) responsibility for this incipient Lost Generation of Arabic letters, too. Hopefully, the expatriates in Beirut will turn out better than did our expatriates in Paris (a vastly overrated crowd).
  • The McCarthy era isn't the only source of self-serving despicable blacklists.
  • At least this Amazon brouhaha isn't an AmazonFail. It is, instead, an AmazonSuccess — and not just on civil liberties grounds, but on intelligent-governance and rational taxation grounds.
  • On the legal front, the Supreme Court has granted certiorari in a grey-market-v.-first-sale case, which will hopefully clear up some confusion... by June of 2011, anyway. In Costco v. Omega Watch, No. 09–1423, the Court agreed to decide whether an authorized purchase in a foreign market of watches containing copyrighted material, followed by import into the US and resale at below the manufacturer's retail price policy, is nonetheless allowed under the "first sale doctrine" in 17 U.S.C. § 109. This should matter to authors (not to mention to musicians, screenwriters, and the industries that distribute copyrighted works) for a very simple reason: If the Court decides that what Costco did was allowed, there will be no more territorial rights (or, at least, they won't be recognizable). In the long run, that's a good thing; in the short run, "utter chaos" would be an improvement. Of course, this will also get into questions of whether the Supreme Court should pay any attention to foreign law, because the "right" (or, at least, "internationally consistent") answer requires considering a European decision on construction equipment, grey markets, and territorial exclusivity within the EU...

    Then, too, authors are frequently the targets/victims of collection lawyers... and the Court smacked the collection lawyer subindustry around a bit on Tuesday, ruling in Jerman v. Carlisle, No. 08–1200, that a "mistake of law" by a collection attorney is not the kind of bona fide error that insulates said attorney from a claim for wrongful collection activities under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq.. Which means that if a collection lawyer misinterprets what he may legally do — such as ignore the Americans With Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. because, as a collection attorney, he's somehow privileged to do so — he has no defense that he just made a mistake.