Blog Ipsa Loquitur

People are usually pretty surprised to find out that I don’t know a lot of technologically savvy attorneys. In fact, I think most attorneys regard technology the way they regard math — alternately bewildered and indifferent. The following conversation had me cracking up at my desk today:

A: Intern brought in his own computer. It’s a 15” MBP, unibody. It has fucking 10.5.8 He can’t even run Chrome. Get the @#%$# out.

B: How a person’s own gear is set up is a pretty reliable indicator for technical competence, imo.

A: Not doing anything technical for us, just content writing until he goes to law school in the fall…

Published on under Irreverently Irrelevant

The guy who made those really sleazy “Girls Gone Wild” videos, which at one point seemed to comprise half the ads on Comedy Central after midnight, has an interesting closing statement for his assault and false imprisonment trial:

I want that jury to know that each and every one of you are mentally f–ing retarded and you should be euthanized […] if that jury wants to convict me because I didn’t show up, which is the only reason why they did, then, you know, they should all be lined up and shot.

Actually, he was already found guilty, and he made these remarks (and more!) to a reporter in an interview before his sentencing. I’m reminded of that hacker who did an AMA on Reddit the night before his sentencing, wherein he declaimed his lack of remorse and general lesson-learning that I think judges probably like hearing. Prosecutors and judge noticed. Maybe the jury will notice this one.

Published on under Irreverently Irrelevant

Bitcoin, that digital currency only several orders of magnitude less useful than Xbox Live Points, has been the subject of some really fun news pieces recently. There was the e-sports league surreptitiously running a mining operation with its users’ computers. There was the exchange which shut its doors and ran off with $260,000+ of its customers’ “money”. A speculative bubble around Bitcoin popped last month, collapsing nearly $200 in under a week. At least you know Bitcoin is always worth a funny story.

So the largest Bitcoin exchange (that thing which converts Bitcoins into money) is a Magic: The Gathering card trading site (yes, really) called Mt. Gox, which has trafficked in Bitcoin for the last few years. They just had (one of?) their bank account(s?) seized by Homeland Security. Ars has a good writeup of why this has happened, including detailed quotes from the key portion of the warrant.

tl;dr: Mt. Gox forgot to register as a currency exchange, which is a federal felony.

As part of the Money Laundering Suppression Act of 1994, all Money Transmitting Businesses must register with the Department of the Treasury. Neither Mt. Gox nor its US subsidiary Mutum Sigullum, LLC. are registered as such. Whoops. The Bitcoin subreddit is directing their displeasure toward Mt. Gox, whose navigation of regulatory matters is admittedly pretty displeasure-worthy. It’s okay, guys! An efficient market would never allow such egregious incompetence to handle two-thirds of all Bitcoin exchanges. (Yes, Virginia, etc.)

So wait, the coming crypto-currency wars? The stateless society? Post-capitalism anarcho-digital-libertarian utopia? All sidetracked because someone didn’t do their homework? What, don’t any lawyers take bitcoins? Hm.

How about Magic cards?

Published on under The News

Prince is DMCAing videos with his music in the background. This isn’t new. What’s new is that he’s sending takedown notices to Vine, a video service which hosts six second videos.

Vine launched less than three months ago, but the first DMCA takedown notices are already coming in. Among the first rights holders to file a grievance with Twitter is NPG Records, Princes music label. […] Chilling Effects, a watchdog site where Twitter publicizes such takedown requests, reveals that on March 22nd, NPG Records contacted the company and asked for eight videos to be brought down. As best we can tell, Twitter complied with the request, as none of the URLs are currently functioning.

via The Verge.

Published on under The Digital Age

The New York World reports on the New York City Open Data Law of 2012, and includes a couple of choice quotes from a certain open government activist:

It is unclear what consequences agencies will face if they are not compliant with Local Law 11. “Ideally, someone would step up and be the policeman,” said Dominic Mauro, staff attorney for the good government group Reinvent Albany.

Mauro says that that a new administration will have to get on board, because the information tracked by city agencies ultimately belongs to the public. “Taxpayers fund the government and the government collects the data,” he said. “Its our data. We don’t pay taxes so we can not know what goes on.”

Aside from the double negative there at the end, this Mauro guy sounds both insightful and handsome.

Published on under Gov 2.0

I think it’s pretty safe to say I’m not exactly a copyright maximalist. Occasionally, I write sarcastic/whiny bits about absurdly long copyright duration and point out that we might still be able to have nice things if we had slightly less copyright. Congress doesn’t seem to agree, as the only time they address copyright law seems to be when they’re trying to make more of it, not less of it. See: the Mickey Mouse copyright extension and wait until 2023 for Disney’s flagship mus musculus to almost enter the public domain before being snapped back up.

So amidst all that, it’s nice to see folks in Congress taking bold action on copyright. By downloading TV shows and movies repeatedly:

In late October, someone at the U.S. House of Representatives decided to catch up on the latest season of Dexter, illegally downloading an episode of the TV series while at a congressional office. In the days that followed, with Hurricane Sandy threatening to keep federal workers hunkered down at home, employees of Congress downloaded the 2012 mob film Lawless, a Halloween-themed episode of The Middle, and an episode from Season 9 of CSI: New York.

Over the last four months, employees of the House of Representatives have illegally downloaded dozens of films and TV shows, according to a report shared with Whispers by ScanEye, a website that tracks what IP addresses have downloaded on BitTorrent. BitTorrent is a protocol for sharing large files over the Internet. Unauthorized downloads of copyrighted material is illegal in the U.S.

The full article has a full list of what was downloaded from tracked Congressional office: my personal favorite? DeGrassi. Frankly, if they want to watch people bickering like teens and high school power struggles, I wouldn’t have imagined they’d need to download something.

Published on under The Digital Age