January 29, 2004
It's Mine Mine Mine, All Mine, Every Little Factoid in My Database! Mine!

Updated post:

Recommended: The Coming of the Anti-Feist, Part II (Donna Wentworth @ Copyfight).

Congress is talking about locking down data in databases. Feist was this case where the Supreme Court ruled that facts (like the temperature, the score of the local hockey team, the number of voters in a state) are not copyrightable, only special arrangements of those facts in databases, collectively are, and then it's the arrangement, not the facts themselves that are copyrighted.

Well, now Congress wants to change all that, allowing the first to arrange something to get control of it completely, including all factiods. Think scientific data, publicly funded research, etc. Bad policy idea all around. Do you really want scientific data tied up like that? Facts that should enter the public domain to be built on for further research? Not to mention the scores of the hockey team? There is no reason for this, and in fact many major companies oppose it, but the copyright cartel is strong, and their interests very short term (lock every thing down, make money now, screw innovation and future development, cause we're makin' quick bucks!)

Check it out. And make your thoughts heard with your legislators. We can't afford this legislation.

MORE...
Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)
January 28, 2004
Confusing the Pipes/Players with the Content

Cory Doctorow on digital music systems:

    Copyright law has never said that the guy who makes the records gets to tell you what kind of record player you can use.

Cory is responding to Scoble on digital music players. Read the whole post. Compare this to our phone service. Even when AT&T was a monopoly, they didn't control what you said over the phone, they just gave you the pipe and the player (they rented you the phone) but neither of those restricted what you said, how you said it, or how others listened to what you projected. I have no problem with a pipe/player monopoly (in this sense) but there is a serious issue when the pipe/player controls any aspect of your content or experience.

I'm jamming on projects (I promise to spend more time here soon, but the next two weeks are insane...).

Posted by Mary Hodder at 12:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
January 25, 2004
Frank Field Has a Compelling Entry on the Copyfight

I for one find Frank to be invaluable, as a content manager for these issues, as a pointer to what's important to him and the copyfight. I have seen the conversation amongst the bloggers a little slow. Maybe it's the end of the year, beginning of the new year or finals or maybe it's the economy bubbling and keeping people busy. But these issues are key, and I'm planning more bloggers for bIPlog. Read Frank's words. They speak for themselves.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 06:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
What's Going On

Well. A lot. Okay, here's the deal. BIPlog is moving from the Journalism School servers to the Boalt.org servers. Why? Well, I'm the only poster from the original class (you remember the one: the one that was going to be the Altamont of blogging) and I'd like more posters, because I want to focus more on Napsterization, though I will keep posting on it some. Also, the blog can live on as more Law and other students join Boalt.org (the student organization at Boalt Law School) to keep it sustainable and alive. So the last two weeks we've been working on the stuff to get that done (some technical, with a huge thanks to Scot Hacker, and some procedural) and will let everyone know when to change the RSS and linking information, though old original links will continue to work, because I hate broken links to posts and so will not do this to those who've linked to bIPlog.

Secondly, I've had the most stressful week of my grad school era this past week, which thankfully has ended, as well as, in my voluminous spare time, a friend's wedding the past two days. Why two days? Well, in a past life, I used to do flowers for events to earn spare dollars as an undergrad. Now, occasionally I do them for friends as a gift for the wedding. Involves a 4am trip to the flower market, some advance planning, and then two solid days of work. My body aches everywhere. I think I'm going into retirement on this one. Though it is fun to spend $1500 on wholesale flowers and do a really high end job (retail, that would cost ten grand). But at this point, my time is more valuable than it used to be, and I just can't do this too often. Did one last summer, and while it's such a great gift, and sumptuous and beautiful to get to work with such great media, it's too much. So, I have one more bar mitzvah, and then I'm out of the biz. At least for a few years. Hopefully.

It was this week with school and the wedding that really put me behind in my technical work, blogging, school, etc. However, once bIPlog is transferred and one other project is over, I resolve to get back to my regular schedule. Please forgive me the interruptions, but I actually have some things I've been wanting to do here. Stay tuned.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 05:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)
January 22, 2004
Diebold: Politically Active With Campaign Contributions, Uncertified Software in Every CA County and No Paper Trail On The Voting Machines 'Til 2006

Bill French suggests bypassing Diebold, and voting in a time and place, by going absentee (here's the CA form). (Also, here's a link describing the software and papertrail issues).

UPDATE 12pm: I called the Alameda County Registrar's office and confirmed that paper absentee ballots are kept after they are scanned by Diebold machines. The time period for keeping paper in archives is the same as when the old machines were used, and they couldn't tell me the exact number of years, but it is for some *years*.

And just in case you were wondering whether Diebold employees are politically active (remember, employees for government entities are restricted in various ways on this including campaign contributions because it's a conflict of interest), the California database for 2004 election contributions shows this: 26 Contributions (to date) for political candidates and committees.

(Format:
Name
Date and Amount
Home city
Employer
Contribution made to)

BUCCI, DAVID
6/29/2003 $1,000.00
HUDSON, OH 44236
DIEBOLD -[Contribution]
VOINOVICH FOR SENATE COMMITTEE

Bucci, David Mr.
6/26/2003 $2,000.00
Hudson, OH 44236
Diebold Inc./Senior Vice President -[Contribution]
BUSH-CHENEY '04 INC

Crowther, John Michael Mr.
8/27/2003 $2,000.00
Canton, OH 44708
Diebold Inc. -[Contribution]
BUSH-CHENEY '04 INC

D' Amico, Thomas R. Mr.
9/3/2003 $2,000.00
Canton, OH 44718
Diebold Inc. -[Contribution]
BUSH-CHENEY '04 INC

D'AMICO, THOMAS R
6/21/2003 $500.00
CANTON, OH 44718
DIEBOLD INC -[Contribution]
VOINOVICH FOR SENATE COMMITTEE

DETTINGER, WARREN W
6/25/2003 $500.00
CANTON, OH 44708
DIEBOLD INC -[Contribution]
VOINOVICH FOR SENATE COMMITTEE

DIMMITT, WILLIAM R. MR.
4/2/2003 $200.00
SAN ANGELO, TX 76901
DIEBOLD INC./SERVICE TECHNICIAN -[Contribution]
NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE

Frazzitta, Bart Mr.
6/26/2003 $1,000.00
Akron, OH 44333
Diebold Inc./Vice President -[Contribution]
BUSH-CHENEY '04 INC

Frazzitta, Bart Mr.
9/29/2003 $1,000.00
Akron, OH 44333
Diebold Inc. -[Contribution]
BUSH-CHENEY '04 INC

Geswein, Gregory T. Mr.
6/26/2003 $2,000.00
Bentleyville, OH 44022
Diebold Inc./Chief Financial Office -[Contribution]
BUSH-CHENEY '04 INC

Hillock, Jennifer L Mrs.
8/27/2003 $2,000.00
Massillon, OH 44646
Diebold Inc. -[Contribution]
BUSH-CHENEY '04 INC

Hillock, Michael James Mr.
6/26/2003 $2,000.00
Massillon, OH 44646
Diebold International Inc./Presiden -[Contribution]
BUSH-CHENEY '04 INC

Ingram, Larry Dean Mr.
9/15/2003 $1,000.00
Massillon, OH 44646
Diebold Inc. -[Contribution]
BUSH-CHENEY '04 INC

Ingram, Larry Dean Mr.
6/26/2003 $1,000.00
Massillon, OH 44646
Diebold Inc./Vice President Of Glob -[Contribution]
BUSH-CHENEY '04 INC

Mahoney, Robert
11/30/2003 $250.00
Canton, OH 44718
Diebold/Chairman Emeritus -[Contribution]
CARE POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE (CARE PAC)

O' Dell, Walden W. Mr.
8/8/2003 -$2,000.00
Canton, OH 44708
Diebold Inc. -[Contribution]
BUSH-CHENEY '04 INC

O' Dell, Walden W. Mr.
6/12/2003 $4,000.00
Canton, OH 44708
Diebold Inc./Chairman -[Contribution]
BUSH-CHENEY '04 INC

O'DELL, WALDEN W
6/25/2003 $500.00
NORTH CANTON, OH 44720
DIEBOLD INC -[Contribution]
VOINOVICH FOR SENATE COMMITTEE

O'DELL, WALDEN W
6/25/2003 $1,500.00
NORTH CANTON, OH 44720
DIEBOLD INC -[Contribution]
VOINOVICH FOR SENATE COMMITTEE

Scheurer, Charles B. Mr.
8/27/2003 $2,000.00
Canton, OH 44708
Diebold Inc. -[Contribution]
BUSH-CHENEY '04 INC

Swidarski, Thomas W Mr.
7/9/2003 $2,000.00
Hudson, OH 44236
Diebold Inc. -[Contribution]
BUSH-CHENEY '04 INC

Van Cleve, Jeffrey J. Mr.
6/26/2003 $500.00
North Canton, OH 44720
Diebold Credit Corporation/Vice Pre -[Contribution]
BUSH-CHENEY '04 INC

Van Cleve, Jeffrey J. Mr.
9/3/2003 $1,000.00
North Canton, OH 44720
Diebold Credit Corporation -[Contribution]
BUSH-CHENEY '04 INC

Van Cleve, Jeffrey J. Mr.
10/10/2003 $225.00
North Canton, OH 44720
DIEBOLD CREDIT CORPORATION/VP & Gen -[Contribution]
EQUIPMENT LEASING ASSOCIATION LEASEPAC COMMITTEE

Van Cleve, Jeffrey J. Mr.
4/11/2003 $250.00
North Canton, OH 44720
DIEBOLD CREDIT CORPORATION/VP & Gen -[Contribution]
EQUIPMENT LEASING ASSOCIATION LEASEPAC COMMITTEE

WARF, ALBEN W
6/29/2003 $1,000.00
MASSILLON, OH 44646
DIEBOLD -[Contribution]
VOINOVICH FOR SENATE COMMITTEE

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:27 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)
January 21, 2004
RIAA Again Sues... John Doe

The RIAA has sued another 532 file sharers (uploaders they say averaged 800 or so songs) in either NY or Washington (according to Ted Bridis/AP). They now have to sue John Doe, and then subpoena personal information of users they believe file share, under court review, after losing last month the right to subpoena without oversight, directly from the ISP.

Ed Lee, Lawrence Solum and Ernie Miller comment on the success these suits bring (or don't).

Meanwhile, other business models that consider people's digital media desires are bubbling, including Diesel's Mix CD service photos here and here (via Joe and Ernie).

Posted by Mary Hodder at 11:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
January 20, 2004
Fractals, Digital Divides and Policy

Parker Thompson just attended the Technology, Values and Justice conference this past weekend at U of Washington Law School. Interesting folks like Vint Cerf [one well dressed dude (his bad-ass factor as on par with Sean Connery)], Judge Donald Horowitz and Ed Lazowska, who talked about how the digital divide can be seen like a fractal, where a percentage within a percentage within a total has access and the rest are left out, like this issue left the radar the second Bush stopped keeping stats (note the reports on the site date to 1998 and 95.

    Morton Horwitz Professor and Legal Historian at Harvard spoke next and gave perhaps the best talk of the conference. In a brilliant talk Horwitz discussed access to technology as a right the way we consider access to language education (for example, to non-native speakers) a right. If, he argued, technology is a window to participation in our justice system then denying access to these technologies would constitute denying some citizens access to the justice system. I have heard the argument made that Internet access should be treated as a utility, like electricity or water, but never that it could be considered a requisite to participation in civil society provided for by the Constitution.
    An interesting example he used was a mechanic. Apparently bankruptcy law prohibits creditors from taking a mechanic's tools to cover debts owed, the rationale being that this would deny the mechanic his ability to earn a wage (I may be missing the finer point here). Horwitz posited that this might be analogous to someone in an information profession (say lawyers) having a right to his or her professional books. He goes on to suggest this principle could be extended to protect an individual's right to information (e.g. legal information).

Interesting ideas. Check it out. Parker told me he and the two other students there were perhaps the only non-gray attendees. But he said they were fascinated and it rocked.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 11:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
January 19, 2004
File Sharing Down?

Brian Hindo/Business Week asks, Did Big Music Really Sink the Pirates? regarding lawsuits against file sharers. Hindo says that the PEW and comScore Media Metrix survey showing a decrease in KaZaA, Grokster, BearShare, and WinMX traffic show a narrow view of what's happening with filesharing. He says they don't consider that there are actually more files available on the networks for download, as well as a migration of users from those networks listed above to hipper systems like eDonkey and Bit Torrent which weren't measured. Also, PEW's methods of calling people may not get results because people may not now want to admit to filesharing. Also noted, according to:

    Nielsen SoundScan, in 2003 CD album sales slipped 2% -- a less dramatic drop than the 9% slide the previous year. Also, fourth-quarter 2003 sales picked up 5.6% over 2002.

An interesting statistic, which could be interpreted to mean that the recession had an effect on music sales over the last three years, and now that the recession seems to be ending, people are spending more on music again. Seems like a conclusion in sync with the rest of the economy and sales figures for goods.

The major issue Hindo left out was that private file sharing networks may also be having an effect, causing users of KaZaa, etc. to move to networks that are private, small friend networks, encrypted and not detectable. Right now, we have no way of knowing what happens on those kinds of networks. Though his conclusion is what we've been saying for a long time:

    What's clear, though, is that until the music industry gets fully behind online music sales, file-swappers will flock to next-generation sites like eDonkey -- which has seen 150% growth in the past year, according to independent tallies by both BayTSP and BigChampagne.
    "This stuff is not going to go away," Gartner's (Michael) McGuire says. "The industry needs to provide a compelling legal alternative." Until that happens, pirates will continue to rule the online music seas.

Derek notes Coke's new service:

    If I got my conversions right, you can stream any song for 20 cents and buy songs and albums for as low as $1.4 and 11.4, respectively.

Not quite cheap enough to be compelling, especially since $1.40 is 41 cents more than iTunes.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 01:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
January 15, 2004
Do You Wonder Whether Someday, When They Find Our Relics of Information, They Will Scratch Their Heads In Amazement Over Our Policies and Tactics?

RIAApoliceforce.jpg

Yesterday, Frank Field pointed to this:

Music Industry Puts Troops in the Streets: Quasi-legal squads raid street vendors

    Though no guns were brandished, the bust from a distance looked like classic LAPD, DEA or FBI work, right down to the black "raid" vests the unit members wore. The fact that their yellow stenciled lettering read "RIAA" instead of something from an official law-enforcement agency was lost on 55-year-old parking-lot attendant Ceasar Borrayo.
    The Recording Industry Association of America is taking it to the streets.
    Even as it suffers setbacks in the courtroom, the RIAA has over the last 18 months built up a national staff of ex-cops to crack down on people making and selling illegal CDs in the hood.

This is the RIAA, going after intellectual property. Like a drug raid. And we know how well the drug policy has been working the past 50 years. Success all over the place. It's not the drugs or IP that this is about, it's about policy and tactics, those people in the underground economy, and all the societal problems that come with it. Do we really want to go down this path with IP, or figure out a business model that works with digital distribution, not against it?

Update: Jason Schultz in the comments corrects his misquote in the LA Weekly article. On his blog, he says what he meant was,

    ...that sending out squads of investigators to collect evidence against counterfeiters is traditionally what trade enforcement organizations like the RIAA are good at. They find the pirates, collect the evidence, and then turn it over to real cops for enforcement.

...and that he had no idea the reporter was calling about the RIAA doing literal raids. Abe Burmeister responds to the distinction between file sharing and CD trading:

    But really what is the difference between the two? One is structural, P2P file sharing involves a computer and broadband connection while alternative CD networks involve physical goods, that are copied not stolen. The other difference between the two is socioeconomic. P2P is a middle class act, requiring expensive equipment and connections. The extralegal CD distribution networks operate in far less privileged spaces. And they represent a valid attempt by these communities to route around the restrictions the RIAA is attempting to impose. But since it doesn't involve extensive computer use the EFF can't be bothered to defend.

He makes a very good point, and one that parallels what happens with drug prosecution and enforcement, when drugs like crack are punishable with far more restrictive sentences than cocaine, essentially reflecting who uses them and their socio-economic status. Course, the poor-folk get the short end of the stick. Though I would argue that there are also major organizations devoted to piracy, not just the small time folks noted in the article. I would disagree that EFF can't be bothered to defend CD distribution of copied music. I think instead EFF has drawn a legal line between these two types of music sharing, and in fact, before the first lawsuits against file sharers, they suggested that the RIAA should sue them. But I think a position they would have the most integrity with is that suing or raiding is untenable, that society would benefit overall from decriminalizing this behavior in favor of a business model that supports file sharing, makes artists money, no matter who does the distribution and by what method. Pushing more people, especially poor people with little resources, further into the criminal justice system, further into the underground economy, is a mistake those people can never recover from. There is no growth or advancement for a person in the underground economy, there is almost no chance to educate or buy a house or make a stake in society for themselves, their children or improve their neighborhoods. It's bad public policy and should not be supported at all.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 06:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)
January 14, 2004
Music Biz: Ringtones are 10% of the Global Music Market

Cell phone ringtones sales globally over the last year are up by 40% to more than $3.5 billion (via Wired). But I'm wondering, do we even need a song translated into a ringtone, if we can just play one or another MP3's on our phones, when a call or text message comes in? I mean, my phone plays music, why not just set up the music to play, or even a bit of the music, that I've already paid for, to ring me? Why does my ring tone have to be an electronic tone-quality to signify a ring? Why not just make my own, out of what I've already bought?

On a somewhat related note, Ernie Miller has a hilarious take on the double copyright issue brewing where two formats of the same music are contained on a single CD:

    Ah, the wonders and intricacies of copyright law. Many of the new "copy-protected" CDs on the market are so-called "double session" CDs that have two copies of a recording on the CD. One copy is in the traditional CD format so that it will play back on traditional CD players, the other copy is generally in a proprietary format for DRM restricted copying onto PCs and other devices.

So the music publishers want two copyright fees, even though the users are getting one song. Seems to me that the DRM and related hardware divides up where the song can be played, and so the CD maker is adapting to the fair use desires of customers who see that they are buying a song, and want it to play wherever they have a CD player. Just because there are multiple digital formats and hardwares that can play a song, doesn't I think, warrant the compensating of the copyright holder multiple times for the same song on the same CD. How very greedy of them.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)
January 13, 2004
Italian DMCA Won't Be Used to Prevent Competition or Innovation or Consumer Uses

Derek Slater points to the Sony Playstation case, where an Italian judge said (as paraphrased by Derek):

    Sony's protections were not about preventing piracy, but about preventing competition, innovation, and consumer uses. He makes a distinction between "machine sellers" and copyright holders under the Italian DMCA, affirming implicitly that copyright law wasn't meant to protect the former in this way.

Nice to know that there is some reason being applied to the new European Union Copyright Directive (EUCD - see the Italian version here).

Posted by Mary Hodder at 09:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)
January 08, 2004
What? We Need to Clarify the Copyright Rules for Humming Postmen?

There is something very wrong with the copyright industry when we have this discussion as part of the question of what needs licensing.

Displacement of Concepts has an analysis of this post by Cory Doctorow who saw this article from last February ("We Can Work It Out" - Kim Howells Invites Musicians To Work With Government On Delivery Of The Licensing Bill), which Cory describes as:

    A new business-licensing scheme in the UK will allow postmen to whistle rights-cleared work without obtaining a venue license first.
    * Spontaneously singing "Happy Birthday" will NOT be illegal.
    * Spontaneous pub singalongs will NOT be licensable.
    * Carol singers, going from door to door, or turning up unannounced in a pub and singing, will NOT be licensable.
    * A postman whistling on his round will NOT be licensable.

Postmen? DOP responds with this:

    ...it's not that whistling postmen don't need copyright permission in the form of a license from the copyright holder of the tune they're whistling, it's that they don't need a live performance license from the government to whistle that tune. They very well may, however, need permission from the copyright owner. Due to the extreme narrowness of the "fair dealing" exemption to the UK copyright law's exclusive rights grant (there is no private use right in the UK beyond the terms of the copyright license granted by the owner, unless it is for "private study"), this is actually a real question. The real answer? Well, whether permission (or a royalty) is required in these kinds of circumstances most likely depends on whether the whistling in question could be considered a public performance of the work, an issue that -- as a typical lawyer -- I will refuse to comment upon until confronted with the facts of a particular case. (emphasis mine)

While I very much appreciate DOP/Rob Heverly's clarifying the issues on the confusion with language and the difference between the use of the term "license" for copyright verses business, I can't help thinking that it's utterly ridiculous that we are even discussing whether the Post Office need obtain licensing for postmen whistling tunes while working. I mean, what is the point here, what is the idea, what is the need? The postman is on duty, walking down the street, delivering mail, not performing on stage for money. He's entertaining himself. Is it the fact that he's singing while on duty, and there's the possibility of obtaining some sort of fee from his employer? Is it a desire for money, or a desire to control the content? I realize the statement is that licensing is unnecessary, but if they are thinking about it, it means they have some concern, the issue has come up, someone somewhere expressed a desire to control or profit on postmen whistling or someone somewhere thought they might violate a very tight reading of the copyright laws. The fact that this has to be clarified officially, formally, demonstrates how far tilted incumbent content control has become. Is the line of control just shy of postmen whistling? Or is it back at copyright's original oversight of distribution and profit? Where do we map the copyright industry's control when that control steps into our individual daily experience and wants to control what hummed tune spills out of our mouths, as we go about our lives?

Frank Field has this summary of Lawrence Solum's notes from the Association of American Law Schools, Section on Constitutional Law, Copyright and the First Amendment:

    Prof. Solum's closing discussion centers on some interesting points to consider in the face of the apparent conflict between the freedom of speech and copyright - the idea that the fact that today's copyright conflicts with the First Amendment might be an indication that the law has been over-extended.

Well said.

And Donna points to Scrivener's Error who puts it another way:

    We argue about what is a "limited Time" (Eldred), we argue about whether derivative works ought to be covered as part of "exclusive Right[s]" or perhaps as a "Writing"--and that's about it. We don't argue about some of the behavioral judgments that have crept into intellectual property law, often in contradictory ways.
Posted by Mary Hodder at 08:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)
January 05, 2004
DeCSS Case Finally Settled

The Norwegian police have decided not to appeal (today was the last day to file) to the Supreme Court after the appeals court cleared Jon Johansen, the author of DeCSS (Register, ZDNet, Reuters, Aftenposten or Nettavisen along with the /. English Translation, or see the opinion in Norwegian) of violating the law by developing the program allowing DVD's to be played on Linux operating systems by decrypting the Content Scramble System code. Jack Valenti must be turning over in his grave, I mean putting on a fresh face for the next round of MPAA speech suppressing fun.

    MPAA: The actions of serial hackers such as Mr Johansen are damaging to honest consumers everywhere. While the ruling does not affect laws outside of Norway, we believe this decision encourages circumvention of copyright that threatens consumer choice and employment in the film and television industries.

How do you circumvent copyright? I think they mean it was the DRM code, not copyright, that was circumvented. The DRM code is used to lock the DVD, but the courts decided that once you buy the DVD, you can do play it in whatever way you want, including on a Linux machine. In fact, that seems to support the idea that in exchange for conveying the copyright monopoly to creators, when we buy their copyrighted works, we then have reasonable right to personal use. Just because we buy something doesn't mean the MPAA gets to step into our living rooms to keep the content from playing on one machine over another. For all the money the MPAA spent fighting this, they could have developed legal players for every possible operating system.

According to the /. translation of on Norwegian report, the court also took into consideration the fact that DVDs are easy to damage and so backing them up is also a consumer right:

    "The Lagmannsrett finds that a DVD is so vulnerable to damage that the purchaser must be entitled to make a copy, for example of a movie he is particularly interested in preserving", part of the verdict read.
Posted by Mary Hodder at 07:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)
January 01, 2004
Internet Metaphors and the Law

Frank Field points to a fantastic (as in interesting and thought provoking) article on metaphors used to understand legal and internet issues. Gore, Gibson, and Goldsmith: The Evolution of Internet Metaphors in Law and Commentary. From the abstract:

    While metaphors aid humans in comprehending abstract concepts and legal doctrines, they also may limit human understanding by selectively highlighting various aspects of an issue while suppressing and marginalizing others. Unreflective use of metaphors can lead lawyers to take for granted the "realities" that metaphors enable. A bad metaphor can also simply lead to bad decision making. For example, Cass Sunstein argues that the "marketplace of ideas" metaphor has turned the right to free expression into a degraded form of commerce.

Substitute "journalism" or "digital media" or "technological frameworks" for "legal doctrines" and you see the same is true as metaphors are applied in those instances. We use metaphors to see and convey understandings of complicated ideas, but we limit the understanding at the same time in those discussions. Journalists do it all the time, when they shorten the number of words it takes to tell the story. They sometimes continue applying the same metaphor to situations where that metaphor becomes out of touch over time. Same goes for many of our discussions with digital media, the internet and technology. Making metaphors apparent is something I am experimenting with in the information work I'm doing, and so I found this article helpful.

Posted by Mary Hodder at 11:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)