Today's Blogs

Groks Off?

Bloggers discuss the legality of peer-to-peer file sharing software after the Supreme Court heardMGM v. Grokster on Tuesday. They also ponder Bhutan’s move toward democracy, mark the passing of celebrity lawyer Johnnie Cochran, and keep talking about Ayelet Waldman’s New York Times piece about her ardor for husband Michael Chabon.

Groks off?: On Tuesday, advocates for the entertainment industry told the Supreme Court that “online services such as Grokster and Kazaa should be held responsible for the unlawful acts of their users.” File-sharing defenders argued that services like Grokster shouldn’t be responsible for their users’ actions. The court is expected to issue a verdict this summer. (Read Emily Bazelon’s Slate dispatch about the case. You can read the legal history of MGM v. Grokster here.)

“Not a sure (or even a probable) victory for [Grokster] by any means, but the Court did seem quite attuned to the effects on innovation of whatever liability rule it ultimately adopts,”  writes Harvard Law’s Timothy K. Armstrong, who attended the hearing. Responding to a Washington Post editorial that emphasizes the need to “protect both innovation and intellectual property,” the American Prospect’s Matthew Yglesias insists, “The idea that intellectual property law should have the protection of intellectual property as its purpose rather than as the means used toward the end of overall social betterment is a serious error that the content industry has been remarkably successful at inducing in American society.” Electrolite’s Patrick Nielsen Hayden, a science-fiction editor, agrees: “Copyright isn’t a ‘right’ in the sense of the ‘rights of Man.’ Copyright is a bargain. The object is to foster a society in which innovation is encouraged and rewarded. It isn’t to create a source of perpetual rents for an owner class.”

“There is nothing scarier, more grotesque, or more sickening than the amount of child pornography that can be found on P2P,” points out anti-file-sharing blog See What You Share. Techie NBA owner Mark Cuban explains on Blogmaverick why he’s helping fund Grokster’s defense. “This isnt the big content companies against the technology companies,” he writes. “This is the big content companies, against me. Mark Cuban and my little content company. Its about our ability to use future innovations to compete vs their ability to use the courts to shut down our ability to compete.”

Read more about the Grokster case.

Democracy movement of the day: Bhutan’s King Jigme Singye Wangchuk wants to turn his country into a constitutional monarchy. If the proposed constitution is adopted, the ruler would have a mandatory retirement age and could be deposed.

Conservative Captain Ed rejoices. Despite Bhutan’s isolation, “even its absolute monarch sees the writing on the wall for tyranny, no matter how benevolent. We may have started the most potent political movement in Asia since Mao wrote his Little Red Book – and this movement could bring peace to an entire continent once it runs its course,” he writes. “Not everyone wants democracy,” notesForty Two’s Bangalore-based developer Devendra Gera. He links to an article about how “some Bhutanese fear a move to democracy could lead to political instability as in neighbouring Nepal.”

Read more about democracy in Bhutan.

Goodbye, Johnnie: Lawyer Johnnie Cochran, best known for his successful defense of O.J. Simpson, died Tuesday of a brain tumor.

“Jackie Chiles Dead … er that is, Johnnie Cochran Dead,” writes self-described “drone” PaxRomano. He goes on to quoteSeinfeld’s Cochran clone Jackie Chiles: “That’s totally inappropriate. It’s lewd, vesivius, salacious, outrageous!”

“But if he were still alive, he’d probably get the tumor acquitted,” quipsRabe Ramblings’ John Rabe. “I thought the man was a huckster, a hustler and a self-aggrandizing swine—all traits that make for a successful lawyer,” admits “radical individualist” Gut Rumbles. On Cogito. Sum., a law student reminisces about hearing Cochran speak: “This is the line from Johnnie: Be creative with your approach to the law. While this may be a little funny (coming from Johnnie Cochran) it was the only time that the ‘c word’ had been uttered while I have been in school.”

Read more about Johnnie Cochran.

The Amazing Adventures of Ayelet and Mike, continued: Snarky The Minor Fall, The Major Lift parodies author Ayelet Waldman’s declaration of love for husband Michael Chabon, in Sunday’s New York Times: “6:15 A.M. After whipping up an omlette aux fines herbes and squeezing the oranges for his juice, I wake up my husband with the customary morning blowjob. Torrid. From what I can make out through the door, the kids have realized that they’re going to have to cook their own breakfast again.”

Read  yesterday’s Today’s Blogs item on Waldman.

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