Archive for the ‘law’ Category

I have a dream…

August 28, 2010

I read Martin Luther King’s speech this morning, and you should too. I don’t, however, recommend turning on the TV today.

Entire speech posted from, I updated a couple of spots where the text doesn’t match the speech

I Have a Dream – Address at March on Washington

August 28, 1963. Washington, D.C.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. [Applause]

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men–yes, black men as well as white men–would be guaranteed the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to open the doors of opportunity to all of God’s children. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment and to underestimate the determination of the Negro. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith with which I return to the South. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous peaks of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and every molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”


C-SPAN puts archives online

March 16, 2010

That’s 23 years of Congress online. There has to be at least one nugget of wisdom in there. Read the NY Times article here.

Who owns electronic rights on authors’ backlogs?

December 21, 2009

The answer could make or break a publisher or two over the next years.

Did the publishers acquire this right when they signed the author, though it was before electronic publishing existed? Or does the author now have a fresh medium in which to sell his or her older works? I hate to say it, but I think the publishers have a point on this one.

The publisher and the author will not likely have contemplated this specific scenario since their agreement was written before e-books existed. But exclusivity is a part of any contract of this type. In any case, the intent was to limit the rights to sell to other book publishers, irregardless of whether those particular book publishers existed at the time of the contract’s signing or came into being during the contract’s lifetime. No court would find the contract isn’t binding merely because the book publisher is new, and thus the contract couldn’t have contemplated that particular publisher buying the rights. The intent was to bind the author from reselling publishing rights to any other publisher. It seems to me that exclusivity would flow through to new book media, especially where the new media is merely a form of book that is not on paper. While I’m rooting for the authors and their estates on this one, as I am an indie/DIY fan, I’m betting the publishers’ lawyers used broad enough language in their publishing contracts to cover any form of book.

We’ll find out soon enough, as the fight has begun, with the NYTimes saying Random House sent letters out claiming all e-rights in its authors’ works. From that article, the other e-publisher’s response was weak: “Mr. Sharp, president of Open Road, said in an e-mailed statement: ‘We are confident in our agreements and only make deals with parties who represent to us that they own the rights.'” That doesn’t mean much; if I walk in and say I own the rights to a book, does that mean Open Road has legal standing against Random House because I was full of crap? No it doesn’t.

Random House has gone to court over this before:

There is some precedent for arguments over e-book versions of backlist titles. In 2001, Random House sued RosettaBooks, an e-book publisher, for copyright infringement when Rosetta signed contracts with authors — including Mr. Styron — to release digital versions of previously published novels.

In its suit, Random House relied on wording in its contracts that granted it all rights to publish the works “in book form.” In its letter to agents on Friday, Random House invoked the same wording to defend its right to publish e-books of backlist titles.

In 2001, a federal judge in Manhattan denied Random House’s request for a preliminary injunction against RosettaBooks, ruling that “in book form” did not automatically include e-books. An appellate court similarly denied Random House’s request.

The case never went to trial. In a settlement, Random House granted Rosetta a license to release e-book versions of 51 titles. Under a different agreement with Mr. Styron, Rosetta also published two of his books, though its license to do so has since expired.

The fact that the preliminary injunction was denied is not, in my opinion, evidence that Random House will lose the next round. It looks like there will have to be a precedence-setting, to-the-end court fight before this one’s decided. Books such as Catch-22 and Sophie’s Choice are the battleground in this fight, per the article, and that makes sense. The books we all have to read for college have an annually changing captive audience, and that captive audience will be reading mostly electronically in just a couple of years. I’m all for the author getting the profit for books, and as a begrudging Kindle Convert I think e-books are going to take over. If those authors can prove an e-book is something entirely different from a book, then the rights old publishers hold soon won’t be worth the paper they were printed on.

Wow, it’s apparently not a big deal to poach in Iowa

December 16, 2009

After that mountain lion killing, I was looking at the Iowa Dept. of Natural Resources site. Here’s the scolding you apparently get if you shoot an endangered animal:

Penalties for Unlawful Taking of Threatened or Endangered Species

Violations of the provisions of Chapter 481B for threatened or endangered species are misdemeanors punishable by a fine of up to $100. In addition to the misdemeanor penalty, a person convicted of unlawfully selling, taking, catching, killing, injuring, destroying, or having in possession any animal listed as threatened or endangered is required to reimburse the state $1,000 per listed animal. (Section 481A.130 of the Code of Iowa).

I think that’s a very small punishment. The lower end is similar to a jaywalking citation in Seattle. There could be some manner of tiered system, as I think there’s a valid argument that someone might not know they have in their hands a rare western prairie fringed orchid, but they would know the peregrin falcon they have mounted to their wall is on the list. And anyone who’s decided to go hunting should have the duty to know what they are hunting and to have a working knowledge of what they cannot hunt. A rule like this, with no teeth and such a low risk of catching anyone in the act, would distract no one.

Movie industry to world: Do NOT F with us

December 4, 2009

A theater had someone arrested for recording her sister’s birthday party on a small digital camera because it included a little Twilight footage with the friends talking over it. This is a felony charge! Do not bring your own candy, they will go GITMO ON YOU!!

From the sound of the article, the theater called police on her, police were not that impressed with the birthday footage’s criminal content, but the theater insisted on pressing charges. Before this, another report says an usher saw her taking photos of her family in the theater but gave no warning. The alleged felon says police were nice to her and seemed sympathetic. She served two nights in jail before she could get out (no bond required), and faces three years! That would be about a year for each minute of grainy digital camera footage she took of the movie!

Why no articles name the theater, I do not know. There is no reason to protect the name of the accuser in this instance.

Copyright holders could use all of the help they can get right now. They do not need this! Message to theaters: wait till you find someone who was actually taping a movie before you make your strongarm move. We’ll all support you then. Till then chillax, a-holes.

July 30, 2009

Can the artist who created the charging bull statue by Wall Street really win an infringement claim when someone takes a picture of it for their book cover on Lehman Bros.’ collapse? It’s an interesting question, and one I’m entirely too tired to think about tonight. Without thinking, I’d say possiblymaybe. More likely yes than no.

Judge Orders Former Exec to Write a Book

June 10, 2009

This is from the NY Times

On Monday, Judge Ricardo M. Urbina of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, sentenced a former senior pharmaceutical executive to write a book.

Earlier this year the executive, Dr. Andrew G. Bodnar, a former senior vice president at Bristol-Myers Squibb, had pleaded guilty to making a false statement to the federal government about the company’s efforts to resolve a patent dispute over the blood thinner Plavix.

The judge sentenced Dr. Bodnar to two years of probation during which he is to write a book about his experience connected to the case. Dr. Bodnar must also pay a $5,000 fine.

Elkan Abramowitz, Dr. Bodnar’s lawyer, said he had never before heard of a case in which a judge sentenced a defendant to write a book.


Authors Guild v. the blind

April 14, 2009

This column in the Baltimore Sun was interesting. Kindle 2, I guess, has a text-to-speech feature. The Authors Guild has taken the (silly) stance that, if Kindle 2’s read-aloud function is used, it constitutes copyright infringement. To compensate the blind, the Authors Guild apparently says, so long as blind people sign up with a national registry of blind people, then ask to have the feature unlocked, they would be fine with blind people listening to their Kindle instead of reading it. Seems overreaching, unnecessary and discriminatory in its effect. The argument that it will hurt audio books sales is irrellevant to me, as someone’s not going to buy the audio version AND the Kindle version. I guess people who buy a Kindle could take it out on the street and turn it on for an illegal street performance of Twilight as dictated by a computer voice?

Quote of the day… the Iowa Supreme Court

April 4, 2009

Alright, don’t read a quote–read the entire thing. In a unanimous decision, the Iowa Supreme Court held the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutionally discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation, and the court rejected all of the asserted interests of the state in a cogent manner. While I’m proud of Iowa, I am also reminded why this case even came up–the people of the state discriminated to the point that they crossed constitutional boundaries. I know many (most?) who discriminated do so feeling they were following their religion. I respect their right to feel that way. I’ve also read the New Testament and don’t get the same impression from it that others apparently do. And the next step Iowans will try is to attempt constitutional amendments. Either way, this is a big day for the state. I’m from Iowa, but now living in Seattle, going to law school and business school. As it turns out, one of the plaintiffs is the organist at my church in Iowa. Congratulations to him.

Our responsibility, however, is to protect constitutional rights of individuals from legislative enactments that have denied those rights, even when the rights have not yet been broadly accepted, were at one time unimagined, or challenge a deeply ingrained practice or law viewed to be impervious to the passage of time. The framers of the Iowa Constitution knew, as did the drafters of the United States Constitution, that ‘times can blind us to certain truths and later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress,’ and as our constitution ‘endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom’ and equality.” …

Now that we have addressed and rejected each specific interest advanced by the County to justify the classification drawn under the statute, we consider the reason for the exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from civil marriage left unspoken by the County: religious opposition to same-sex marriage. The County’s silence reflects, we believe, its understanding this reason cannot, under our Iowa Constitution, be used to justify a ban on same-sex marriage….

Our constitution does not permit any branch of government to resolve these types of religious debates and entrusts to courts the task of ensuring government avoids them. See Iowa Const. art. I, § 3 (“The general assembly shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion . . . .”). The statute at issue in this case does not prescribe a definition of marriage for religious institutions. Instead, the statute declares, “Marriage is a civil contract” and then regulates that civil contract. Iowa Code § 595A.1. Thus, in pursuing our task in this case, we proceed as civil judges, far removed from the theological debate of religious clerics, and focus only on the concept of civil marriage and the state licensing system that identifies a limited class of persons entitled to secular rights and benefits associated with civil marriage.

We, of course, have a constitutional mandate to protect the free exercise of religion in Iowa, which includes the freedom of a religious organization to define marriages it solemnizes as unions between a man and a woman. See Iowa Const. art. I, § 3 (“The general assembly shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free exercise [of religion] . . . .”). This mission to protect religious freedom is consistent with our task to prevent government from endorsing any religious view. State government can have no religious views, either directly or indirectly, expressed through its legislation. This proposition is the essence of the separation of church and state.”