May 27, 2003  ·  Lessig

Dean: “”In my travels around the country, I have discovered that this proposed
deregulation is one of the foremost issues on peoples’ minds. I am asked
about it everywhere–in small towns in New Hampshire, and in major cities
across the nation.”

Read his letter to Chairman Powell.

May 27, 2003  ·  Lessig

So it you want to read a story about extremists, here’s one that’s hard to beat. These people are looking for help, so anyone in New York who can help should follow up. I have permission to post this, but I haven’t verified the facts.

May 27, 2003  ·  Lessig

There were an extraordinary number of people who took up the Starbucks’s challenge. Check out the links here and lots elsewhere on the web.

There were many in the comments to the challenge who suggested there was nothing wrong with Starbucks exercising control over its own property. Of course that is right. And of course it is right that Starbucks should have the right to control people who are bothering people with their cameras, just as Starbucks has the right to control people who are bothering others with a radio. And of course it is right that Starbucks has the right even to be extremist about it — banning anyone who clicks even a picture of a friend, invoking mysterious claims about security or trade-secrets.

But if they exercise these rights to an extreme, then of course we have the right to criticize their extremism. We have the right to link their extremism to a growing phascism about photographs. (See the wonderful summary of your rights by Bert Krages.) For it is bizarre that we increasingly live in this world where every movement is captured by a camera, yet increasingly, ordinary people are not permitted to take pictures with cameras. This is yet another part of a growing obsession with control that seems to mark so much of this society. At a minimum, we have a right to take note of this control, and criticize it where we can.

That’s just what I wondered about when I read these stories about Starbucks’. I’m a terribly untrendy sort — I like Starbucks. But I couldn’t quite tell whether the extremism of these stories was an exception or a policy. And I guess I was relieved to read, and to find, at least some stores where the manager of a place that loves to imagine itself a public place was actually giving members of the public a freedom to feel like they are in public. I understand of course — as everyone should — that this “feeling” is just virtual. It can be withdrawn at anytime.

May 25, 2003  ·  Lessig

Frank Rich has a great piece in the Times today about MediaCon.

” Though liberal and conservative organizations alike, from Common Cause to the National Rifle Association, are protesting this further consolidation of media power, most of the country is oblivious to it. That’s partly because the companies that program America’s matrix have shut out all but bare-bones coverage of the imminent F.C.C. action, much as the ruling machines in “The Matrix” do not feed their captive humans any truths that might set them free.”

If you think Frank Rich is right, you might want to write the NY Times and ask, why is it the Times has “shut out all but bare-bones coverage of the imminent F.C.C. action”?

May 24, 2003  ·  Lessig

Mr. Richard Bennett accuses me of “latent fascism” for deleting a comment from a post. In fact, I have never deleted any comment from any post, his included. I should think, rather than calling someone a fascist, the decent thing to do when one suspects such a thing is to simply ask.

I’m happy to have you “disagree with [me] on my blog,” Mr. Bennet. And as to the claim you say you posted, viz, that I “can’t be that ignorant” about the Sony Bono Act “harmonizing” the US term with the EU.: in fact, as Professor Karjala nicely demonstrates, the Sonny Bono Act did no such thing. That’s precisely why members of the EU are now pushing to increase terms for recordings — to catch up to the longer term that US law sets.

And if you have trouble posting a comment again, let me know. I’m happy to help.

May 24, 2003  ·  Lessig

So on May 22, at 11:49am I posted my offer to spammers that I’d be happy to read their spam sent to a special spam email address if they promise to pay $500 for the privilege. At 9:58 this morning — less than 2 days later — I received my first acceptance. How exciting!

May 23, 2003  ·  Lessig

So I have this from an extremely reliable source, who vouches totally for the facts that follow.

Story one: Last month while visiting Charleston, three women went into a Starbucks. They were spending the weekend together and one of them had a disposable camera with her. To commemorate their time with one and other they decided to take round robin pictures while sitting around communing. The manager evidently careened out of control, screaming at them, “Didn’t they know it was illegal to take photographs in a Starbucks. She insisted that she had to have the disposable camera because this was an absolute violation of Starbuck’s copyright of their entire ‘environment’–that everything in the place is protected and cannot be used with Starbuck’s express permission.

Story two: At our local [North Carolina] Starbucks, a friend’s daughter, who often has her camera with her, was notified that she was not allowed to take pictures in any Starbucks. No explanation was given, but pressed I would think that the manager there would give a similar rationale.

I wonder what would happen if hundreds of people from around the country experimented this holiday weekend by taking pictures at their local Starbucks …

May 23, 2003  ·  Lessig

While I have no idea what this paragraph means,”[w]e opponents of megamergers and cross-ownership are afflicted with what sociologists call “pluralistic ignorance.” Libertarians pop off from what we assume to be the fringes of the left and right wings, but do not yet realize that we outnumber the exponents of the new collectivist efficiency,” I declare that the war of ideas in this media concentration battle is over. This brilliant piece by Safire ends it.

Let’s now see whether ideas and ideals translate into policy.

May 23, 2003  ·  Lessig

I got a surprising number of replies to my post about online banks. Bank of America has the most loyal customers by far, with 2.5x the number of positive responses over the next highest rank. Second place was tied between USAA and Citibank. Wells Fargo, HSBC, American Express and eTrade also got strong recommendations.

PC Banker got a particularly strong recommendation from someone I know who apparently has a very interesting passion researching such questions. And First Internet Bank of Indiana got a similarly strong set of recommendations.

There were also a surprising number of missives about the value of local credit unions (indeed, adding them together, credit unions were also tied in second place). I am a member of the Stanford Federal Credit Union, but it has discontinued its online access with Quicken.

The most surprising response, however, came from Citibank itself. On the day I posted the question, a very kind manager at Citibank called to tell me he had been reading my webpage (!). Within a day, all problems with my account at Citibank had been corrected, and my account is live. I didn’t quite know how to respond to this, but I count this as extra effort by Citibank, and so I’ll give them a try. More when there’s something useful to report.

Meanwhile, on the power of blogs…