Defining Internet Freedom

I’ve written an essay called “The Enigma of Internet Freedom” that appears in this month’s eJournal USA, which is published by the U.S. State Department. Here’s the introduction: Rhetorically, everyone supports Internet freedom. “Freedom,” though, means quite different things, and carries diverse weights when measured against other interests in various countries and cultures. This normative […]

Civil Contempt and Indefinite Imprisonment

My colleague and friend Jayne Ressler has a terrific op-ed in the L.A. Daily News about the need to reform civil contempt confinement. The problem with unlimited imprisonment is obvious. What also concerns me is the lack of review in the case she cites: Richard Fine alleged that L.A. County was bribing judges in exchange […]

DMCA: Fifth Circuit inches closer to “fair circumvention” defense

When I went to law school, one of my more disagreeable professors gave us a memorable definition of the task of courts in statutory interpretation cases: “A judge’s job is to figure out who Congress was trying to screw, and then screw them.” Even if you accept that formulation (and it seems to rest on […]

The Haiti Hoax

An impressive fake video is making the rounds of the Internet; it purportedly shows a French government official announcing that the Republic would repay the enormous sum Haiti sent to France in exchange for independence in 1803. The video is hosted at, a domain name very similar to the French Foreign Ministry site, which is […]

Censorship’s Human Costs

The New York Times has a fascinating article about the effects of screening Web sites and images for objectionable content on the workers who perform the screening. This is a valuable function – it helps sites such as Flickr keep problematic images off their services – and it is an important alternative to legal regulation […]

Tenenbaum and Statutory Damages

I’ve been thinking about the implications of Judge Gertner’s ruling in Sony v. Tenenbaum, and have had the good fortune to discuss it with copyright expert Thinh Nguyen. One unexpected effect of the decision, I believe, will be to increase the cost of copyright litigation, perhaps significantly. Judge Gertner employs the Supreme Court’s Due Process […]

Tenenbaum Case Finds Copyright Statutory Damages Unconstitutional

Hot off the press, here’s Judge Gertner’s ruling. Hat tip: Eric Goldman. This is a bombshell! Update: Here are my rough first thoughts. This is a huge decision. If it’s upheld on appeal, it will not only change the contours of the Copyright Act, but might hold larger implications for the ability of Congress to […]

User’s Guide to Holding Your Phone

Nokia has a brilliant post on its corporate blog about how best to hold your Nokia phone. Of course, the iPhone v4 infamously suffers degraded connections if you hold it wrong. This is only the second-worst feature of the phone; the worst is the powerful electric shock it delivers when you e-mail Steve Jobs to […]