Wednesday, January 18, 2012

If you can't do without Wikipedia . . .

Gerard N. Magliocca

Cross-posted at Concurring Opinions

As I'm sure you know, Wikipedia is dark today to protest the bills pending in Congress that would give content providers new tools to stop copyright infringement. The legislation is awful (when it comes to IP, that's par for the course) and I endorse this protest wholeheartedly. Alleged copyright infringers should have an opportunity to defend themselves--the notion that they can be punished through an ex part proceeding or by simply telling a host that you think somebody is engaged in illegal activity is contrary to due process and to the First Amendment. Moreover, a policy that allows a site to be, in effect, disconnected from the Web is more suited to Beijing than Washington DC. When I lived in China, it would be fun to figure out what websites you could or could not access. (Legal blogs from the US were always blocked back then.) What Congress is contemplating is not as bad, but the underlying principle is the same. The state should not get to decide what websites we can visit--period.

Though I have class this morning, I'll be available after that to answer all questions that you would normally take to Wikipedia. Consider it a game of "Stump Gerard." I accept the challenge!


Is Hussein ibn Ali the grandson of the Prophet or the son of the Prophet's cousin?

Oh, that is a tough question!

Here are my devil's advocate questions:

1. What is so harsh about the penalties/sanctions specified by the bill?

2. What would you say constitutes reasonable recourse for IP owners?

3. How far apart are 1 and 2?

This post was cross-posted on Concurring Opinions and there's a post up by a self-professed moderate on these issues that might help address jpk's questions:

Who's the moderate? Sasso? Lemley? I'm confused.


OK, that one I don't know.

jpk, I think the person who wrote the post I linked to is a "moderate" in that the person supports some regulation but thinks SOPA and alternative goes too far. Sorry for the confusion.

A Google search suggests Inigo raises a trick question.

Not meant to be a trick question. I had thought that Ali was a cousin of the Prophet. I had also thought that "ibn" meant "son of". I read an article in the Times that said Hussein ibn Ali was the grandson of the prophet. I am genuinely confused. At least for the next 7 hours and 20 minutes.

A quick search suggests the answer is "both" given the interrelated nature of the family, helped by cousin marriage and so forth.

When Congress creates a new office, is the office “vacant” within the meaning of the Recess Appointments Clause? If the answer is yes, can Congress restrict the office’s authorities until such time as it is filled by advice and consent? If the answer is no, can Congress authorize the President to make a temporary appointment to the office?

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