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
It’s the International Day Against DRM, and in honor of the day, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Parker Higgins has written an excellent post explaining why we can’t live with DRM, even on media that you “rent” rather than buying (streaming services like Spotify, Netflix, etc).
The World Wide Web Consortium — an influential standards body devoted to the open web — used to make standards that would let anyone make a browser that could view the whole Web; now they’re making standards that let the giant browser companies and giant entertainment companies decide which browsers will and won’t work on […]
In 2010, after years of bitter fighting, the French National Assembly passed “Hadopi,” the worst copyright law in history, which provided for disconnecting whole families from the Internet if their network connection was implicated in an accusation of copyright infringement.
Why buy one of those expensive and confusing universal remotes, clogged with enough buttons to launch a space shuttle, when you could accomplish the same electronic control right on your favorite mobile device? The Blumoo Universal Remote, now just $52.99 in the Boing Boing Store, harnesses the audio power of all your household equipment right […]
You may not love Microsoft Word, but you’ve definitely used it. Other than being one of the most ubiquitous programs on the planet, it’s been the go-to word processing system for more than a quarter-century because it’s as basic as it gets. But occasionally, you’ve got assignments that beg for a lot more options than simple […]
Almost everyone has their smartphone in a case of one kind or another. Beyond simple protection, finding a case that can charge your phone on its own, but doesn’t feel like it’s also adding a couple pounds to the phone’s weight is the tricky part. Billed as the world’s thinnest battery case, the ThinCharge iPhone […]