G'day and welcome back down under! This is the third time I have hosted Blawg Review from Australia (the other two times were Blawg Review #85 and Blawg Review #136). For those who don't know, the Blawg Review is a weekly round-up of posts from around the blawgosphere. This time I've presented Blawg Review in two ways - in addition to this blog post I've been using Twitter throughout the day to deliver the links included in this edition of the Blawg Review @BlawgReview178 (and see my previous posts here and here). If you don't actually know what Twitter is, check out this video that explains Twitter in Plain English, as well as Blawg Review #177 from last week that has a couple of great links explaining how lawyers can use Twitter. If you want to follow other lawyers on Twitter, JD Supra also has a list of 291 lawyers using Twitter here. Or alternatively, Legal Voices has a mixed RSS stream of over 200 lawyers on Twitter. If you still don't get it, then this video that Build A Solo Practice, LLC embedded last week might explain it for you.
However, before we begin my whip around the blawgosphere, a little about me and my blog. I am a lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia, where I teach Intellectual Property, Australian Federal Constitutional Law and Legal Regulation of the Internet, and research within the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation. Accordingly, my blog began as a forum to discuss the legal regulation of the internet and the media. However, just as the collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of my work at QUT has seen my teaching and research interests expand beyond traditional black-letter legal scholarship, my blog is in many ways not a proper "blawg". Most of my posts cover developments in new media - be they technological, social, political or legal - and you are just as likely to see me embed an interesting, popular or provocative viral video as you are to see me critique a significant legal case or piece of legislation.
However, one recurring theme on this blog has always been a recognition of the value in a strong and free internet. Therefore it is an honour to be able to host Blawg Review on Monday September 22, 2008, which is One Web Day 2008. One Web Day was founded three years ago by Professor Susan Crawford from the University of Michigan, and she describes it as an "Earth Day for the internet". The One Web Day website describes the day in the following terms:
The idea behind OneWebDay is to focus attention on a key internet value (this year, online participation in democracy), focus attention on local internet concerns (connectivity, censorship, individual skills), and create a global constituency that cares about protecting and defending the internet. So, think of OneWebDay as an environmental movement for the Internet ecosystem. It’s a platform for people to educate and activate others about issues that are important for the Internet’s future.
This video of Tim Berners-Lee talking about One Web Day offers a good insight into the idea behind the day:
Anyway, in the spirit of One Web Day and recognising the value of the internet, Blawg Review #178 seeks to celebrate the best in legal blogging and the contribution it makes to informed debate in so many different areas (not just the law).
Law, blogs and the economy
The US financial crisis predictably sparked a great deal of discussion in the blawgosphere.
Nate Oman was glad that the Fed kept its head and declined to bail out Lehman Brothers and noted that this crisis is "a big nasty problem . . . [but not] an apocalypse." Gordon Smith compared the coming change in the financial regulatory structure to Roosevelt's New Deal, Stephen Bainbridge thought the comparison was overblown and Smith responded to Bainbridge's criticism.
Eric Posner offered four possible ways to rationalize the legality of the Fed's buyout of failing AIG, dismissed a couple as silly, and suggested that either of the remaining two was a plausible explanation. However, David Zaring was more circumspect about the legality of the "cheap" buyout. Sandy Levinson asked When does a political/economic crisis become a constitutional one? And Jack Balkin looked at the Bush Administration: Give Us More Unreviewable Power; We Did So Well The Last Time We Asked.
Maxwell S Kennerly wondered about the AIG loan, asking Has the Federal Reserve Become Both a Receiver and an Insurance Guaranty Fund? and Dave Hoffman explained why AIG had to be bailed out in The Loophole that Became a Wormhole. And Houston attorney Tom Kirkendall couldn't help but remind us of his prescient post on AIG back in 2005 when he asked "Do you recall what we were thinking about three and a half years ago?" Meanwhile Däna Wilkinson had an idea: Bail Out for Homeowners, Not Just Banks. But Scott Greenfield, however, just wants some of his money back:
I didn't cause this crisis, and I don't want to pay for it. So if my government wants to use my tax dollars to save the American banking and investment banking system from collapse, to provide liquidity to the markets, to maintain business infrastructure, I understand. But I have something to ask in return.
All those nice, young broker and banker people who received multi-million dollar bonuses; all those CEOs, CFOs, COOs, GCs and any other initials you can think of, who receive multi-multi-million dollar bonuses;
I want it back.
And that's not all he wants. Check our his full rant here.
Law, blogs and society
Liz Glazer tore herself away from "the incredible awesomeness that is Gossip Girl's season 2" to blog about the gaps in discrimination laws which leave fat and/or transgendered folks uncovered.
Beth Van Schaack described the impact of ad hoc international legal tribunals in prosecuting violence perpetrated against women as "revolutionary".
Mark Toth discussed a legal victory secured by San Diego firefighters who were ordered to participate in a Gay Pride parade by their fire chief, a lesbian, after not enough firefighters volunteered to participate.
Mary L. Dudziak explained how a new web archive is shedding some light on a landmark civil rights case.
Law, blogs and politics
Jim Lindgren considered to what extent Barack Obama's national service "goals" is intended to and could legally be made mandatory on schoolchildren. Michael Dorf evaluated the importance of the upcoming Presidential debates.
But all this talk about email leads us to ...
Law, blogs and technology
At one of my favourite blawgs, The UTube Blog, Edward Lee blogged that NBC praises YouTube technology in keeping unauthorized Olympics videos off the Internet — is Viacom’s case against YouTube now toast?
At PrawfsBlawg Marc Blitz pondered the privacy implications of a video game that you control with your mind. Meanwhile Sam Bayard from The Citizen Media Law Project blogged that YouTube announced changes to its community guidelines last week, prohibiting the upload of videos inciting others to commit violent acts, giving Senator Lieberman a partial victory on terrorist videos.
On Point wondered whether the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals tried to cover up a particularly deplorable decision in a civil-rights case by not publishing it, only to have the videotape of a Florida police officer repeatedly tasering a handcuffed motorist showing up on YouTube - with the apparent support of the dissenting judge.
The Greatest American Lawyer observed that Cell Phones Can Distract ... And Kill: Metrolink Engineer May Have Been Texting In Deadly Train Crash. While on that tragic accident, Traverse Legal reported that it appears that cybersquatters immediately prey upon the publicity that surrounds a mass accident.
Adam Frucci noted that an anti-consumer 8,000 words update to AT&T's 2,500 pages-long customer agreement (called a "guidebook" by the company) probably won't be read by many of its customers, but it is attracting attention from regulators who may require the telecom giant to rein it in.
Mike Masnick doubted that peer review is sufficient to help the somewhat dysfunctional American patent system. Gene Quinn wrote that patent trolling has subverted the system from one protecting innovation to one simply redistributing wealth.
And with a shrink-wrap license on a bag of grapes in a supermarket, Mike Madison suggests that contracts have finally "jumped the shark" while Timothy Zick looked at Meatspaces, Cyberspaces, and (Relative) Expressive Freedom and Michael Dorf chanted Spam, oneSpam Spam Spam Spam Spam, Glorious Spam,
Anyone across the country and the world can contribute by adding text, images, and video that celebrates e-Democracy to an open blog. We invite you to add the following entries:
Best of the e-Democracy Web: Your favorite tools, citizen journalist site, etc. What empowers you to act online?
E-democracy heroes: Brag about your friends and colleagues- who is behind the best political technology, content, and critical policy fights today?
Legislation and Policy: What are the issues we face in delivering the best possible future for e-Democracy?
Letters to the future: How do you see the e-Democracy Web growing (or failing) in the future?
However, one law blogger is in a little bit of trouble with the Recording Industry Association of America seeking to have attorney-blogger Ray Beckerman declared a "vexatious" litigator. According to Wired's Threat Level blog the RIAA alleges that Beckerman, one of the nation's few attorneys who defends accused file sharers, "has maintained an anti-recording industry blog during the course of this case and has consistently posted virtually every one of his baseless motions on his blog seeking to bolster his public relations campaign and embarrass plaintiffs ... Such vexatious conduct demeans the integrity of these judicial proceedings and warrants this imposition of sanctions." Read more here and visit Beckerman's blog, Recording Industry vs The People.
Law, blogs and education
IntLawGirls gave an insider's view of the International Law Commission 4 Societies Workshop in 4 Societies, 5 countries, 15 scholars & 1 address on the International Law Commission.
Law, blogs and fun
At Agoraphilia Tom Bell said that if he was to choose a "law and" movement (like law and economics, law and literature, law and sociology), he'd opt for law and fun. So in that spirit here are some examples of the blawgosphere having a bit fun this week.
The Faculty Lounge blog embedded John McCain Gets BarackRoll'd, a YouTube video that was edited together by Hugh Atkin. Hugh is an Australian lawyer who today starts a new job at the New South Wales Supreme Court. He blogs at The Margins of Error and posted to his YouTube channel over 60 videos he has created in his spare time.
While on fun videos, Law is Cool embedded the winning videos from the Access Group One Less Worry scholarship contest - all of the contestants were in law school, and entries were opened to the public to select the winner.
But the most fun was clearly had by Simple Justice at Lawblog 2008, a "monster party of law blawgers from the continent".
Law, blogs and ...
Some other interesting posts from the blawgosphere included a look at Fashion and Contemporary Art: an industry liaison from the Fashion & Apparel Law Blog; musings on Lawyer Type from Slaw ("Typography is one of my fascinations"); mediator blah ... blah considered Professor Murray's concerns on The Privatizing of our Civil Justice System (and the insidious corruption of ADR); David Harlow asked and answered Where does HIPAA go? Wherever it wants; Monica Bay was rightly appalled at the gender gap in paralegal in her post Shame, Shame: Gender Gap for Paralegals at The Common Scold; Tim Abbott at Walking the Berkshires analysed a federal lawsuit brought against the Town of Sharon, Connecticut by a land owner concerned about unauthorized vehicular use of a public access easement that enters her property; the Innocence Blog reported that a federal judge has dismissed a libel lawsuit filed last year by an Oklahoma District Attorney against author John Grisham, Innocence Project Co-Director Barry Scheck and exoneree Dennis Fritz; and Beck and Herrmann asked Where's a defense lawyer to go when s/he all of a sudden needs amicus curiae help? Finally, a question all lawyers can ponder: Do we have too many lawyers? And if that makes you begin to make you contemplative, idealawg has collected some mindfulness resources for lawyers.
It has been a pleasure to host Blawg Review #178 this week. Blawg Review has information about next week's host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues