A Tech/Law Talk Show designed to cover modern technology and Internet issues with host Dave Levine.


Shows #61 and 62 — Profs. Bobbi Kwall and Mark Lemley — posted

Starting the quarter off with intellectual property law, I’m very excited to post the first two shows of this quarter: Show #61, my interview with Prof. Roberta “Bobbi” Kwall of DePaul University College of Law, and Show #62, my interview with Prof. Mark Lemley of Stanford Law School.

Bobbi and I focused on copyright, and particularly her forthcoming book on moral rights and personhood in copyright. A timely topic, given all that is currently happening in litigating fair use issues.

Mark and I focused on patents, and what best can be called an update from last year’s interview, and the discussion ranged from In re Bilski to what’s down the road for patent reform.

I enjoyed both interviews and hope that you do also!

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Obama for President

I refrain from political discussion entirely on my radio show. But the blog, well, that’s different (I’ll figure out a number of reasons how and get back to you, but one is that it has veered into personal items in the past), so I take this opportunity to briefly mention why I will be voting for Sen. Obama for President in the Democratic primary in my new home-state of North Carolina on May 6.

In essence, it can be summarized by my belief that Obama means what he says about seeking change in how government does business. I do not think that Obama is flawless. But, while I disagree with Obama on some issues (i.e., I would like to see specific plans and ideas for entitlement reform, which is already eating a massive amount of our yearly Federal budget, but no current candidate is really offering that), I generally agree with him; so, on substance, I have relatively little with which to quibble.

But the real change comes in actually addressing the massive degradation of the operations of government — from ethical loopholes to increasing secrecy to the control of money in politics (note: I am not saying Washington — I mean government at all levels). And it is here where, I believe, Obama is serious and has enough political experience to understand what has and is happening. Unlike Sen. Clinton, who has given no indication that she would actually attempt to fix government (and has given indications that not only would she would not make any such attempts, but she might make the situation worse), it seems that Obama may actually address the pointlessly divisive stranglehold of incumbency and money that has come to represent government, from Washington to Albany to [name your local municipality]. That, combined with his admirable candor and thoughtfulness in not pandering to the voters with repeated platitudes and non-answers, is sadly remarkable.

I’ll gladly vote for Obama on May 6 in the hope that he offers a real opportunity to attempt to regain confidence in our government.

I leave you with Obama, addressing and explaining his “bitter” remark in his own words, on April 11:

and Jon Stewart nicely (and hilariously) summing up the “bitter” contrived controversy and, implicitly, why we want an “elitist” in the White House, from The Daily Show, April 14:

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Hiatus until April 9 and logistical sunshine!

KZSU is in its interim period, and as such there will be no new Hearsay Culture shows until April 9. However, we have a packed schedule for the upcoming quarter, with guests ranging from intellectual property professors to business historians and technologists. I thank all of my future guests in advance, and look forward to talking with these fascinating people.

In honor of Sunshine Week, I will shed some sunshine on the inner workings of the Hearsay Culture machine. The big question: will Hearsay Culture return to regular weekly new shows? Yes! The coming quarter should find more regular shows.

Now, here’s the sunshine: Alas, my first year of teaching has been both exhilarating and very busy. I taught two new classes this past Fall (Contracts and Intellectual Property) and am now teaching one new class and a repeat in Civil Procedure and Contracts. I love teaching but preparation for classes takes a lot of time and it has eaten into my time for other activities, among them Hearsay Culture. Nonetheless, I envision more flexibility in the coming month.

More sunshine by way of thanks: Chizzy, the wonderful KZSU DJ who mans the board at KZSU in my east coast absence, will be at the board another quarter. Thanks Chizzy! Thanks also to Joe Neto at Stanford Law School, who continues to expertly convert the radio show into the podcast that many of you hear.

Lastly, some good press that is masked as sunshine: as you may notice, I do not have paid advertising on the website nor do I seek to make a dime from the show (I ask for money on the show — but it’s for KZSU!) My main form of advertising for the show is word of mouth. Thus, I am very gratified when I read positive reviews of shows, as the commentary is unsolicited. So I see no ethical or moral issue (other than the general obnoxiousness of self-promotion) in noting some recent press: Concurring Opinions (listing the show as one of the author’s six favorite podcasts of 2007), and Technology Liberation Front (reviewing interview with Prof. Richard Epstein, and author noting that it is “one of [his] favorite podcasts”). Thanks much for your support!

I love doing the show, and hope that you find it educational and entertaining. Looking forward to the new quarter. In the interim, reach out and let me know, to quote former NYC Mayor Ed Koch, how I’m doin’! Email me at dave@hearsayculture.com.

Thanks for listening and reading!

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Shows #59 and 60 — Profs. John Willinsky and Brett Frischmann — posted

I am pleased to post two new shows: Show #59, my interview with Prof. John Willinsky of Stanford University discussing his book The Access Principle; and Show #60, my interview with Prof. Brett Frischmann of Loyola University Chicago School of Law on infrastructure and commons management.

John has written a wonderful book, The Access Principle, making the case for open and free access to scholarship. As I mention on the show, I do not regard this as terribly controversial, but I’m biased. John addresses the arguments that may be raised against such a goal and makes a strong case for its immediate implementation.

Brett is a prolific scholar (and, I should mention, generous with his time when new professors — like me — ask for advice), and writes in two areas in which I have a strong interest: commons and infrastructure. In this interview, we discuss the former through the lens of Brett’s view of what we need to expand the public’s knowledge of the importance of the commons, as well as through discussion of Yochai Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks.

I enjoyed both interviews, which are certainly related in both guest’s embrace of public and open dissemination of knowledge (among, I imagine, other similarities), and hope that you enjoy both shows!

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Shows #57 and 58 — Prof. Kristin Lord and Erik Davis — posted

I am pleased to post the first two shows of this quarter: Show #57, my interview with Prof. Kristin Lord, GWU Elliott School of International Affairs, discussing her book “Perils and Promise of Global Transparency: Why the Information Revolution May Not Lead to Security Democracy or Peace,” and Show #58, my interview with Erik Davis, discussing his books “The Visionary State: A Journey Through California’s Spiritual Landscape” and (because I have to) “Led Zeppelin’s Zoso” (33 1/3).

Prof. Lord has written an insightful and far-reaching book challenging accepted wisdom about the positive impact of public transparency. Erik Davis has written a very different book (complete with exquisite photography) examining the mystical and spiritual underpinnings of California’s history and culture. I enjoyed both guests and interviews, and hope that you enjoy them as well!

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WOSS-FM, Gordon Peterson and Access to Information

This radio gig is not new to me. But there was a large gap between this show and my last efforts to do radio. Prior to Hearsay Culture, one needs to return to 1990, my senior year in high school when I was station manager of the very sadly defunct WOSS-FM. WOSS-FM, the “Voice of Ossining,” was the FCC-licensed radio station of my high school, Ossining High School in Ossining, New York. I hosted, among other programs, music shows when I lugged LPs in a plastic/pleather box to the high school and lugged them back home (uphill, but with shoes) when the show ended, and the bold and weekly “Inside the NHL,” where a buddy and I talked for one hour about the National Hockey League. I am sure that it was the only NHL-focused radio show on the dial in Westchester, and we were thrilled if one person called us (which happened rarely). Getting some really nice guys on the New York Rangers to record station identification spots at Rye Playland, where they practiced, was a real treat. Ossining is not a name that rolls off the tongue.

I also have fond memories of leafing through LPs and CDs that would come in from various artists. One such CD that came in during my senior year was Indio’s Big Harvest, including the single “Hard Sun.” If you’ve heard of Indio today, it may be because “Hard Sun” was redone by Eddie Vedder for the movie Into the Wild. Gordon Peterson, the man behind Indio, for reasons unclear and largely irrelevant to this post recorded this one album and has since apparently been out of the public spotlight. Big Harvest is a terrific album, full of excellent and insightful lyrics and tight musicianship. Reminiscent of Peter Gabriel and Sting, it remains one of my favorite albums of the 1980s. Indeed, “Hard Sun” actually turned me on to environmentalism, never a major focus of my attention but certainly on my radar screen afterwards.

Indio got little play on WOSS-FM (and not because I “borrowed” the copy for my “personal use,” thank you very much). So go out and buy it? Not easy. It’s out-of-print, although you can find copies for less than $100, usually, and sometimes much less if you find an auction at the right time.

My concern here is not for anyone with means to procure a second-hand copy by paying the premium due to its out-of-print status. And I’ll spare you a rant about labels, assuming that the label is even the reason for its unavailability (although presumably the lack of a perceived market for the CD has something to do with it). Rather, my concern is for the person without such means, who may wish to enjoy, grow from or be influenced by this album.

I am not going to recreate the various arguments made for and against piracy (that is, the illegal download) in such circumstances. But it is worth reminding ourselves that even in a day of rapid increases in the ability to share information, there remains information that is difficult to acquire. And if the larger public goal of information technology is to allow for greater and easier sharing of information, then even the comparatively trivial situation of the affordable availability of a valuable CD should be considered. This is not piracy on the scale necessary to allow for culture to spread into closed societies (as written about eloquently by former guest Balasz Bodo), but in order to address the question of the role of intellectual property law in preventing easy access to information (regardless of the information’s commercial value), one should consider the beleaguered music fan searching in vain for a clean and new copy of Big Harvest. Hmmm, a lot has been written in this area, but maybe that’s something to focus on more closely . . .

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Thanks to Audacity

Those of you who have listened to the last several shows have undoubtedly noticed the sound quality, or lack thereof. It has been frustrating dealing with this issue, but I am pleased to say that I have found the fix. After various experiments with the software that will go unnamed, I found my solution in downloading the free and open source Audacity. It’s amazing how free and liberating it is to use software where you literally hit one button (in this case, “record”) and all of your configuration issues are done. O simplicity!

Thanks for your patience during this time, and I think that you’ll find the sound quality of the most recent show (which I hope to post in the next week or so) a vast improvement on the last several.

As always, if you have any comments or suggestions regarding the shows, please email me at dave@hearsayculture.com.

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Goodbye Netscape and Oscar Peterson

I could have done separate posts, but why? So I write to note the imminent demise of one inanimate technology great, and the recent passing of one giant of jazz.

Is there a thread between the two to justify a single post? Perhaps in a tangential and abstract way, as both were a harbinger of things to come and standard setters in their respective fields.

Boing Boing reports that Netscape, on which I write this blog entry, will cease being supported in February 2008. Like many Internet geeks, I started on Netscape and have discussed it’s merits and battles at Hobee’s in Mountain View, but according to the BBC, I am now one of .6% of Internet users who still call it home. Will I still use it? Well, I use Ecco and still on occasion play Rampart, so don’t count me out yet. So it may yet live in my computer even if its thrown out by its owner. And I may benefit since no one will even bother (assuming they even are now) to write viruses for it!

As for Oscar Peterson, I merely want to note that it was his trio’s classic (and misnamed) “At the Concertgebouw” that turned me on to jazz well before Netscape was a thought in my brain. With Herb Ellis and Ray Brown, Peterson formed one of the greatest trios in jazz history whose influence was profound. I do not need to sing Peterson’s praises or note his unique contributions here (look here for more info), but I want to thank him and his colleagues for enriching my life with his music. His music (and particularly tracks from this album) have been used in previous Hearsay Culture shows, my small tribute to his work.

On a personal level, both influenced me in different ways: indeed, my first browser allowed me to experience the possibilities of the Internet; possibilities that I celebrate on Hearsay Culture. Specifically to Peterson, Netscape allowed me to find info about Peterson’s career and discography, and indeed it was only when I could really research musicians on the Internet that I was able to fully explore Peterson’s significant influence on jazz. So the wonders of the information available by way of the Internet helped inform my love of jazz by allowing that access to knowledge and music. Thus, a hearty and heartfelt thanks to both, and alas, both will live on (in a very small way) digitally in the memory of my computer.

Clarification December 29: it has been pointed out to me that I may not have been clear about the following: I value human beings more than technology. I do not intend to imply that code should be viewed the same as a human being — even really good code. Thanks for the feedback.

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Patry on the Public Domain

Prof. William Patry has a great blog post on the impact of US copyright term extension on Korea. The international impact of US term extension is not discussed enough (at least from my somewhat myopic vantage point in the US), and Patry’s description of one impact point is startling.

Additionally, Patry makes the point that “the purpose of term extension . . . has always been about the past, not the future; it has always been about keeping pre-existing works out of the public domain and not about any alleged incentive to create new ones.” Having argued this very point with those who do not share my concern about copyright duration and the public domain, this is certainly far from received wisdom in many circles. The utilitarian copyright argument is under increasing strain (as is the notion that today’s royalties fund today’s creations), and Patry’s point must be openly discussed and amplified not just for the continued survival of (what’s left) of the public domain, but also by the entertainment industry itself as it grapples with maintaining it’s business in the face of technological advances that it is slowly and begrudgingly incorporating.

Needless to say that I agree with Patry’s post, and hope to have guests on Hearsay Culture to explore its ramifications.

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New Schedule

I am pleased to post the new schedule for the next quarter on KZSU, starting January 13. I am very excited about the upcoming guests and, as always, I welcome your suggestions for future guests. Please email me at dave@hearsayculture.com.

I anticipate next semester being more manageable . . . so thanks for continuing to tune in and I hope that you enjoy next year’s shows!

Happy holidays and I’ll see you next year!

Peace on Earth

Peace on Earth

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