May 31, 2004  ·  Lessig

A journalist friend of mine has been writing about prisons. She has discovered in the process an extraordinary wealth of amazing and reflective writing by prisoners. I’d like (and they’ve agreed) to turn some of this writing into a blog, since the prison won’t permit them to publish the writings in the prison paper.

Is anyone game to help? I’d send you (by snail or fax) copies of the essays; you’d be a contributor to the blog by posting what was written, and adding comments of your own. I’d only need a couple volunteers to make this possible. I’m happy to host the site and pay for the MT interface (yes, I’m HAPPY to pay for MT).

Email me at this disposable email address by June 7 if you’re willing to help.

UPDATE: Ok, my inbox is flooded with great volunteers. Thanks to everyone who did volunteer. More here when we get it going.

May 24, 2004  ·  Lessig

As reported by Ernie, Disney is lobbying to get indecency regulations applied to cable — yet another example (after the Sonny Bono Act) to use law to protect itself against competition. When your movies flop, and you’ve driven away the greatest animation company in the world, I guess there’s not much strategy left.

May 24, 2004  ·  Lessig

“It’s extremely difficult to govern when you control all three branches of government.” John Feehery, spokesman for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Washington Post, 5/23/04.

And when did political parties begin to claim “control” of the Judicial Branch? Someone should inform the Justices. I don’t think they’ve been told yet.

May 24, 2004  ·  Lessig

Does anyone else find this weird: The National Security Agency helps sponsor Metro Traffic, which feeds traffic information to one of the two great NPR stations in SF — KQED. Why is the NSA funding (albeit indirectly) NPR?

May 23, 2004  ·  Lessig

I’ve been begging my wife to let me close down all but one or two of our credit card accounts. The hassle of dealing each month with many different accounts is more than these fingers can handle. My latest victory was to be Chase. She has had a Chase account for ever. But I finally convinced her there was no real benefit to keeping that account open.

So she called Chase and asked that they close the account. Chase was not happy. “What can we do to keep you as a customer,” they asked. I was standing next to her when they asked her, so she asked me. I pointed to an advertisement we had just received from AT&T Universal card, promising no fees, zero interest, no payment for a year for balance transfers. She told the Chase representative we’d keep the card open if they gave us the same terms. The representative said she’d have to check, and said she’d call back later. She did. Chase offered the same terms as AT&T, and based upon that offer, we transferred a substantial chunk of airplane ticket debt to Chase. (The worse thing about traveling to speak is carrying the costs of the airplane tickets till reimbursed. At one point last year, I was carrying more receivables in conference expenses than my wife earns in a year.)

I remember thinking when this all happened how amazing it was that such a significant transaction could happen based only upon the word of a voice at the other end of the phone promising she spoke for Chase. How advanced the world had become! I thought for a second to ask that they send the offer in writing, but it seemed so 19th century. And anyway, it was Chase! And they were being so cyber! Who was I to spoil the fun?

This month we received our statement. As promised, zero interest, and zero fees for the transfer. But contrary to the promise, Chase was demanding a minimum monthly payment. When we called to say that this was not what was agreed to, we were instantly shipped back to the 19th century: “Do you have the offer in writing” the agent at the other end asked?

No, we didn’t. And after our payment for the full balance transfer is cleared, neither will we have a Chase card anymore either.

May 23, 2004  ·  Lessig

I’ve been getting tons of angry email about something nice I said on Screensavers. I don’t remember just what I said, but I apparently praised Tor Books for innovativeness with ebook publishing — e.g., with Cory‘s books.

This led angry fans of Baen Books to write to complain that Baen was far better than Tor. (One fan was so angry that he bought me a trial subscription to Baen — just the sort of criticism I love best!).

I apologize to Baen fans, for I certainly don’t intend to criticize the amazingly innovative business model of Baen (which nicely mixes free and non, and strongly encourages new authors). And I respect greatly your loyalty. When’s the last time a fan of Sony Records wrote to criticize praise of EMI? (Who was the last fan of Sony Records?)

May 21, 2004  ·  Lessig

Jamie Knox sent along Iraq’s newly amended copyright law (as if THIS was where we needed to worry about rule of law in Iraq). I’ve just begun going through it, but there are favorite tidbits so far: collections of data can be protected; readings of the Koran are protected; and collections of government documents can be protected. But significantly, the term is life plus 50! More disharmony…