Rogue archivist Carl Malamud sez, "On Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 10AM, the House Judiciary Committee will be holding
hearings on the
Scope of Copyright Protection. I will be testifying on the subject of Edicts of
Government, including copyright assertions over state laws and federally-mandated
public safety codes. My prepared statement is
available and I would like to express my appreciation to the Committee for giving me the opportunity to testify."
Edicts of government are the rules of general applicability by which we choose to govern ourselves as a society. When John Adams said we are “an empire of laws, and not of men,” he meant that our democracy is based on public laws that we all know, not on the arbitrary actions taken in star chambers or smoke-filled back rooms.
That ignorance of the law is no excuse is a principle firmly rooted in the law, a principle that can only be true if our laws are public. All modern democracies are based on the doctrine of the rule of law, a doctrine firmly embedded in our common law, enshrined in international treaties, and one of the underpinnings of the constitutions of the United States and other nations.
Legal scholars rarely agree on a single point, but on the idea that the law must be promulgated to be effective, they are unanimous. Professor Tamahana, for example, in his standard text on the subject stated, “Citizens are subject only to the law, not to the arbitrary will or judgment of another who wields coercive government power. This entails that the laws be declared publicly in clear terms in advance.” That is why, going back to ancient times, societies that replaced the rule of tyrants with the rule of law prominently displayed the laws in public places for all to see, a point made so well by Senator Robert C. Byrd in his classic lectures on Roman history delivered on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
An Edicts of Government Amendment
In 2011, the Canadian Conservative government rammed through Bill C-11, Canada’s answer to the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, in which the property rights of Canadians were gutted in order to ensure that corporations could use DRM to control how they used their property — like its US cousin, the Canadian law banned breaking DRM, […]
Ten years ago, a group of engineers and media executives sat down to decide what was, and was not, a real family. The results were predictably terrible.
In 2014, IKEA, the Swedish-based global furniture company, sent a cease-and-desist letter to a blogger by the name of Jules Yap. Yap ran the extremely popular website IKEAhackers.net, which helped people “hack” IKEA furniture into new, creative, and unexpected designs. The site was already almost a decade old when IKEA’s lawyers demanded that Yap hand over the URL. What follows is a case study from Superfandom: How Our Obsessions are Changing What We Buy and Who We Are.
When you can’t wait for the world’s longest meeting to end, the mindless leg bouncing makes your boredom obvious and just annoys everybody else. Everyone knows the TPS reports need the damn cover sheet, but some sadistic colleague keeps forgetting, probably on purpose just to eat into your lunch hour. Enough is enough!While serving a […]
What could be more fun than a slingshot that shoots tiny airplanes? A slingshot that shoots tiny glowing airplanes of course! These toy planes are outfitted with ultra-bright LEDs, so you can fly all night without losing them in the trees.Whether you are a regular-sized child, or an overgrown adult one, these light-up flyers offer […]
You know the drill. You go to the dentist and they ask you how often you floss. You lie through your teeth and say, “every day!” (Bonus points if you have some cilantro or chives stuck in your gums from lunch). You don’t want to keep up the charade any longer, but rubbing that tiny strand […]