Supreme Court Rulings, Etc

Thoughts on today’s Supreme Court rulings and other stuff:

* It looks like the Court’s “Split the Baby” rulings on the 10 Commandments in courthouses and on government land hasn’t made anyone happy, so I figure that probably means it’s not a bad pair of rulings. As far as it goes for me, I tend to feel that the Commandments in the actual courthouse is a little too God-huggy for me, but I can’t really bring myself to care if there’s some slab o’ Judeo-Christian rules somewhere on the court property. For example, a couple towns over from me, in Troy, the courthouse grounds has one of those 10 Commandment slabs that was handed out by the Fraternal Order of Eagles right around the time The Ten Commandments came out in the theaters. It’s located in one of the far corners of the court’s grounds, nowhere near the actual courthouse, and honestly, who the hell cares. Although I do wonder if the courthouses that have the 10Cs in their courtyards would be required to also exhibit a monuments with Islamic laws or say, some of the precepts of Scientology, if someone came around toting such monuments to give away to the courthouses of this great land.

* I think the Grokster ruling is particularly interesting. It points out the elephant in the room regarding Grokster, which is that it really was a system designed to take up the thievery slack from Napster (which is, of course, now a paid service), and that’s a legitimate issue. However, it doesn’t invalidate the hallowed Betamax ruling, from what I understand; i.e., just because something can be used incidentally for copyright infringement, this will not be an excuse to punt the product out of the market or otherwise make it illegal.

My own (not a lawyer) reading of the ruling suggests there’s a simple way around this for producers of file-sharing software and other software that would facilitate copyright theft, which is to make sure the marketing of the product/software accentuates and facilitates the legal uses of the software, and/or offer a rudimentary way within the software for copyright holders to flag their properties as copyrighted, and illegal to copy through the network (for books, for example, a string of non-related sentences that are located within the text, tied to a search function for uploaded files). Would determined copyright holders get around this stuff? Of course they would, but the software manufacturers can show they’ve made an effort to instruct end users in the correct usage of the software.

What also make this easier for future designers is the fact there is a wealth of freely-distributed material out there, particularly music and text. Preload your software with pointers to that freely-available material and out of the box you’re promoting the legal and legitimate uses of file-sharing (or whatever), and that the software is designed with this sort of thing in mind. I could be off on this, mind you (that’s the whole “I’m not a lawyer” bit raising its head), but I suspect that this is a ruling that is easily routed around.

* Someone noted to me that there was a Wikipedia entry on me. I knew I was referenced in a couple of Wikipedia entries (my logs show when someone swings by via the Mike Krahulik entry) but I wasn’t aware someone put in something about me directly. And the even better news is that while brief, it is also factually correct. Which is always nice.

* I am still accepting applications for guest bloggers for July through tonight, so if you’d still like to apply but haven’t, there’s still a little time. I’ll probably mail people who have applied with the yeas and nays tomorrow at some point. At this time there are a few dozen applicants, so simply by numbers involved, most of you will get a “nay,” but I still haven’t made final selections, so late applicants still have a chance. How many guest bloggers I ultimately select will actually be dependent on whether I can upgrade my Movable Type license from a “personal basic” one to a “personal unlimited” one (i.e., whether I’m smart enough to do an upgrade install). If I can, I may pick as many as seven. If I can’t, I’ll pick four. I will of course share my selections with you after I make them.

6 Comments on “Supreme Court Rulings, Etc”

  1. He didn’t call me stupid, actually. He said, more or less, “John Scalzi is not stupid, therefore it’s puzzling he said a stupid thing.” Which is slightly different.

  2. Perhaps, but I bet that the ‘Publican demographic of the Whatever (all three of them) are still gleefully celebrating this seeming dissention in the ranks.

    I can’t fault you for your clarification, though I did hope for more snark.

  3. Er, I meant your clarification over at Making Light. I didn’t clue in fast enough that your response here was also a clarification, as I blussfully assumed that my first post was sufficiently obvious as a tongue-in-cheek tease.

  4. You know, I’m not entirely sure I want to swipe foolishly at the man who is going to edit my next novel. Don’t get me wrong, if PNH deserves the hammer, he’ll get the hammer, and PNH would be the first to tell you fair’s fair, and he doesn’t let blogsnark get in the way of his professional work (and, as an aside, he’s enough of a pro that this is actually true). Even so.

  5. Either way, I have to say that I don’t get the “everybody’s mad so it’s all good” approach.

    What happened is that we had two different rulings on similar situations. The Court did not offer any clear, reliable distinctions between the two. It didn’t offer any sound rationale for deciding what’s OK and what’s not. It’s a boon to my brethren and cistern in Constitutional law, I admit, but that’s as good as it gets. The decisions were essentially “Meh, it could be a big deal but not so much” vs. “It’s all about TEH GOD, you losers!”

    As to who cares–anyone who thinks separation of church and state is important should care.

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