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Monthly Archive for April, 2005

wikipedia: philology

The philology research community is on the verge of a breakthrough in productivity facilitated by the availability of powerful research tools that can be applied to electronic versions of texts. There are literally thousands upon thousands of medieval and renaissance texts for which authorship and provenance are not known. Without this information these texts cannot be used by historians in their research. More sophisticated tools for identifying similarities and differences between texts could theoretically be used to determine the author and date of writing of many of these texts. However, there are several obstacles to realizing this goal. First, many of the texts on which philologists would like to work are not available in electronic form or are only available electronically for high license fees and through restrictive interfaces. Second, tools that allow sophisticated types of queries about the texts have yet to be developed. Although a complete electronic corpus of electronic texts with such research tools available for it is a common goal of philologists, the task of producing both the corpus and the tools appears insurmountable to any small group of researchers.

This message from Rnesson, my daughter Rebecca, who signs email

Rebecca Nesson
Candidate for Ph.D., Computer Science
Harvard Department of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Jamaica Voices Coming Up

The Observer reports the escape attempt and killings at Tower Street General Penitentiary, March 31, 2005. This was a galvanizing event in the history of Jamaica’s correctional services, a moment in which people on all sides of the violence between keeper and kept are paused and looking for a better way forward. I attended Maurice Whittingham’s funeral, the first correctional officer to have been shot dead in many decades, a signal event.

The Gleaner reports our partnership to respond. A rehabilitation program took root in Jamaica’s prisons back in the era of Colonel Prescod and Desmond Green. It survived through early success and burst bubble as SET, students expressing truth, inmates who preferred to stay and work in a computer lab than go out on the road to sing. Kevin Wallen leads SET, now expanded to include staff as well as prisoners. Major Richard Reese is the Commissioner of Corrections. It is our partnership to advance SSET’s Rehabilitation and ReEntry Program.

Jamaica’s Department of Corrections holds a press conference to announce its intensified Rehabilitation Re-Entry Program in partnership with Kevin Wallen and the Berkman Center. This audio is near twenty minutes long, opening with the usual Jamaican formalties acknowledging the presence and introduce persons of note, then moves to statements by Major Reese, Kevin Wallen and me, still with a lot to learn.

The Observer reports that Richard Reese has released his report on the March 31, 2005 killings at Tower Street General Penitentiary. A fair detailed report provides foundation for discussion among all concerned, and evolution of a common plan to honor those past and move ahead. This is the challenge that lies ahead

Father Reece asks a question against the visual and audio background of Tower Street, GP. This a video made years ago when we were first coming to know Kingston’s prisons. Father Reece, initially a death row inmate whose sentence was commuted to life, when told after serving 18 years that he had no possibility of parole, escaped and is still free. In this there is irony.

How to Take an Exam Mary Weld

Write, Focus on students, mary wells, my jury seminar, my advisees, write to them, offer to teach them how better to take an exam, here, in the four weeks coming up to the test. Who will help me organize this quest? We need a room, Pound 508 is excellent, and each of you in a seat somewhere, maybe there, with a computer on line at your service and direction. I’ve an audio rant of this thought coming in, but not yet the cable to put it up. Soon come. The Trick I showed Mary.

We will need h20 and wiki to do the teaching task. Course as complete as I can make it. Understanding that it takes balance as you go into it; just like coach says, be on your toes. On your toes for what? For the Question at the Core. Be ready to absorb it, embrace it, confront it, probe it, penetrate it, and move on. For nimbleness of mind let poker be your master. Learn to play the game. Play it.

Not a word wasted, not a moment going back, easy does it, going with the flow, pushing it along with mischief and insight. No sentences which are true independant of the anwer to the question being asked. A class on zen and poker and letting loose false constraints of organization, letting mind go from point to point as you move through the problem. And Socrates, remember Socrates. Honor him with directness.

I await Mary’s call to put this up. I imagine recording the teaching and learning process so that others can tune in. I imagine a reality program offered to our audience.


From Kevin Wallen, Head Tutor, What Would You Do?

Kevin Wallen, CEO of SSET, writes to me of problems our SET students at South Camp, and of the death of one of their leaders.

Date: Sun, 24 Apr 2005 08:16:34 -0700 (PDT)
From: Kevin Wallen
To: Charles Nesson

hi charlie

today is indeed a sad day for the SET group as we will have to spend most of the meeting talking about another of our past presidents as Donald Cousley has passed away. he died on thursday morning at 11:45am he will be greatly missed by all of us

the other half of the meeting will be spent taking care of some serious business as it seems the officers on the ground is giving the set group a really hard time. in the many years that we have been in operation we have not missplaces the keys and for the first time yesturday we could not get into the lab because the keys could not be found. we have many rivers to cross with these guys and this unfortinuatly is only the biginning of what mitht be a long journey.

i’m not quite sure what will come of the meeting today but i will be sure to fill you in on all the details as soon as i can.

Donald Cousley a father and police officer, lives in the country with his mother almost all his relatives lives abroad the only person he has in Jamaica is his mother

she became misteriously ill and does not recover

after her passing he is sitting in a bar having a drink when a millicious individual approaches him, telling him that he had cast a spell on his mother. the man was able to discribe some of the ways in which his mother suffered before she died

Cousley became inreged and the two bagan fighting

cousley a Knife thrower in the fource always has knives on him, a fight ensued and with one Stab the man was dead

Cousley’s story is one of human anger and error however he paid the ultimate price which brinngs me to this. if you were in his shoes what would you do

For his actions Donald Cousley was sentenced to death however, his sentence was commuted to life, he has been not only a model inmate he has been a model human being, he was in the process of applying for parole weather or not he would have gotten it i guess we will never know.

on thursday april the 21 at 11:45am Donald Cousley died in the Kingston Public Hospital.

he did not die with family and or friends at his bedside he died with handcuffs on his wrist and an officer (a prison Guard standing over him, who witnissed his last breath) who after realizing that he was dead allerted the hospital officials who came and after running a few test pronounced him dead

I’ll be talking to you soon
Kevin Dave Wallen

Do all things with love

Back From Jamaica

Two ways to solve problems, from top down or from bottom up. Top down is organized with mission first, then task definition and so on out to execution; bottom up is distributed at base, looking for connection to come together. Here’s the Press Conference at the Jamaica Department of Corrections, leading with the Commissioner of Corrections, Major Richard Reese, then following with Kevin Wallen, leader of Students and Staff Expressing Truth, and then me, announcing the formation of our cyberschool and the building of our internal prison radio network.

welcome to the blogosphere

hi Roz! glad to have you here.

slashdot => lawyers with out license => artists without lawyers

You know the dispute about sampling, in which Judge Ralph Guy and a Sixth Circuit panel reason that there is a difference that still makes a difference between sampling a composition and sampling a performance, and that sampling just 3 notes of a performance, no matter what they are, in this case a guitar arpeggio, or how fast they go by, in this case 1.5 seconds, exposes you to suit for copyright violation, even though the artist, in the this case George Clinton, is pleased by the homage paid, and even though the plaintiff in the case is a copyright predator who buys up copy claims for 3 cents on the dollar and litigates them — I mean can you imagine a worse case in which to allow the plaintiff to win, I mean talk about Grokster being in the business of (contributorily) infringing , this company is in the business of threatening and litigating! Hello Ralph, do you really want the courts filled up with their claims?

— well, listen to the elegant argument made by Michael Bell-Smith at Signal or Noise. 3 notes, 3 songs.

I wrote back to Cary, who seems intrigued with my Grokster approach. I suggested that he try it out on the sampling issue as framed by Judge Guy in the 3-note case. I told Cary of my thought of filing an amicus brief on behalf of Musicians Without Lawyers, and suggested that Cary and RIAA join. What do you say, Cary: Join in helping to make sense of the law of intellectual property in cyberspace.

Off to Jamaica this morning with Wayne, to shoot a video of Boston Jerk and to bring my team together at Digicel. Can we succeed in inviting Jamaica to contribute content to our DME?

Inflection Point

This morning I experienced the flash of insight, coming clear like the solution to a puzzle. With time to sink in, Signal or Noise led me to it — how Internet has changed our environment, legally speaking. Internet gave birth to the powers to aggregate the public domain and to place its immense library of knowledge and capacity for creativity in the hands of common man, any one with access to a digital recording machine and a node on the Net. Here is the audio of my rant. Let it go Charlie, lawyer for musicians without lawyers, for artists in their hearts, whatever money they may have made. Let’s raise money for health care for artists without lawyers who are without them because they don’t have the money. Let’s raise it from artists who do, by offering and inviting homage in the form of a penny or two, part to go to the old guys, like the Grateful Dead, who aren’t touring any more, seeing dwindling checks come in as their downloads compete with free. Yes, John Perry, you have a problem. Help us solve it. We are building a DME to do it, in the open, under flag of HARVARD and law of Fair Use. Digital Media Exchange and Public Library.

And while I’m at it, here’s Cary Sherman’s reaction to my Grokster post.


Signal or Noise — Morning After

Signal or Noise II was mind-blowing in its way, though for me it took a day. Here are my thoughts the morning after.

Grokster: I am Changing My Mind

I attended the Grokster argument. High points in an excellent argument were the questions from the Justices, truly curious, intelligent questions, probing to find a way through the puzzle Grokster confronts them with. Grokster is a bad actor, like a kid taunting the police, can’t catch me, can’t catch me.

Check out Tim Armstrong’s blog of the event, extraordinarily observant though he was in the Lawyer’s Room listening on remote. What did I see? , I saw the Justices facing a mystery,
looking for a new way to see.

Day after the argument I started ruminating.

Bottom line, I’m changing my mind.

I start with conception of cyberspace as rhetorical space, made entirely of message, the connections which make the flow of message possible as fluid as pathways in a net. The Justices face the problem of applying law built for atoms to the flow of bits.

The digital environment brings together what has previously been seen as two separate domains of action. These two domains of action have generated separate and distinct legal doctrine to govern them. The Internet eliminates meaningful functional distinction between them and challenges the Supreme Court to see the digital world anew.

One action space is comprised of what law describes as direct copyright infringement, the act of making or distributing a copy of another’s legally protected work without the copyright holder’s permission. This space is mediated by the law of fair use, which strikes a distinct yet fuzzy border between legal but unlicensed copying of another’s legally protected work on one side and infringement on the other.

The second action space is comprised of behaviors the law describes as contributory copyright infringement, the act of facilitating another in making an unlicensed copy of a third party’s legally protected work. This space is governed by the Sony rule, which strikes a border between technologies which can be developed without incurring legal liability even though they facilitate infringement, and technologies which expose its developer to liability for infringement it facilitates.

The Internet eliminates functional distinction between the two. From the point of view of the user of a networked computer, whose action consists of downloading a work by clicking a mouse-pointer on a screen, it is a matter of indifference where the received sequence of bits comes from. It makes no difference to the user where the source bits are stored, or where the index that allows the user to find the source is stored or how it is made, just so long as the info is accurate and the links work.

Yet from viewpoint of the engineers behind the screen, the issue of where the bits come from is a matter of engineering choice. Differing engineering strategies are capable of delivering to the user the function of finding and downloading a digital work.

(1) The bits may come from a bulletin board — a digital library. If the work is copyrighted and the downloader is unlicensed, then the entity legally responsible for the data base hosting the bits is liable for direct copyright infringement, subject to defense of fair use. Playboy sues Frena, operator of a bulletin board to which he has invited subscribers to post and share images. Some users have posted copyrighted images of Playmates, and others users have downloaded them, notwithstanding Frena’s request to users not to post copyrighted material, and Frena’s policy of taking down allegedly infringing images immediately upon complaint. Frena is held liable for direct infringement, no matter his lack of intent to infringe or how small the amount of infringing material in proportion to the amount of non-infringing material on the bulletin board. Fair use is unavailing as a defense because Frena’s operation is commercial, neither non-profit nor educational; the copied material is artistic, not factual; the entire work is copied, not just a bit of it; and the copying may take away sales from the copyright holder. Playboy v. Frena, 839 F. Supp. 1552 (MD Fla. 1993).

(2) The bits may come from a source or sources in a peer-to-peer network. The transaction is facilitated by the producer of the technology that enables the p2p network. This facilitation exposes the producer of the technology to liability for contributory infringement, subject to defense under the Sony principle if the facilitator can show that its technology is capable of substantial non-infringing use. The purpose of the Sony principle is to protect innovation. The principle embodies the idea that a new technology should not be squelched with legal liability simply because it can be used for infringement.

View the problem from the viewpoint of a developer like Harvard seeking to build a digital library. Note, as you plan the structure of this technological development, that greater potential functionality and capacity for valuable non-infringing use brings you into the risk domain of direct infringement, where risk is very high. Note that you can play safe with much less functionality by staying in contributory infringement space, protected by the Sony principle. The law in this respect is anomalous, counterproductive, and should be changed. The law of the separate spaces should be brought together at the borders. Ask of Grokster whether fair use should shield its facilitation of infringement, even though the technology may be capable of non-infringing use. Ask of Frena and of Harvard in Frena’s wake whether their digital library is capable on substantial non-infringing use. Use the flexibility in the concept of fair use in both direct and contributory space to align the law to functionalities, not to wiring diagrams.