xkcd Deirdre mentioned in class

xkcd Deirdre mentioned in class


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Google Says Microsoft Is Copying Its Results

Maybe you have already read the article, I find an analogy here with Feist v. Rural case. In both cases, they are compiling the facts. But if Bing search algorithm is built upon that from Google as claimed, then Bing is quite likely to violate the copyright law.

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ACLU v. Mukasey

I am not sure if discussion of an argument not suggested in the trial would be relevant to our class.  If it is relevant, one point that the ACLU left unchallenged is that the Government put in place an act to “protect” minors from certain type of materials without showing that type of targeted material was harmful. 

Psychologists hold that sexuality is a natural part of humanity for people of all ages, including children, and sexual health is part of overall physical and mental health (see, for example, Facing Facts: Sexual Health for America’s Adolescents by the National Commission on Adolescent Sexual Health, or the Handbook of Adolescent Development by Jackson).  If children are not asexual then what are we protecting them from?  Certain kinds of sex, which is to say personal taste? 
Kids have access to observe sex and sexuality of other species, for example among their pets, or neighborhood stray animals, or on PBS or nature channel shows and I am aware of no proof or indication that children observing these activities are negatively psychologically affected.  (Nor, to take it a step further, do young non-human animals when observing adults in their species having sex seem negatively affected).  Children of some European countries have more access to sexual imagery than in the U.S. – they also seem fine.
Take the classic example of Sweden.  Greater freedom of speech particularly regarding sexuality in Sweden makes sexually-explicit contact more easily available (including to minors), and further compulsory sex education in schools begins at age 6, according to US News & World Report, March 27, 2007.  US News goes on to note that STD’s and teen pregnancy in Sweden are among the world’s lowest (and, for those concerned with promiscuity, rates of girls under age 15 having sex is lower in Sweden than in the U.S.).  A possible interpretation of these facts is that when we deal with sex in a straightforward manner in general, part of that experience is an opportunity to educate children.  With open dialogue, the resulting fewer cases of teen pregnancy and sexual diseases would indicate less harm (than a closed attitude). 

I am not convinced banning sexual websites from minors view is a protective gesture, and, on the contrary, it may instead be harmful to minors.  Whether or not you agree that banning websites would be harmful, we can all agree that, unless evidence of such harm was given in the preceeding trials related to this case and not recounted in this particular appeal document, that the Government has not proven this assumption.

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Decency of Content & Freedom of Expression

(on call blog post by Evan M. Smith & Christen Penny)

Freedom of expression is a legal right as outlined in the First Amendment of the US Constitution. However, an exception to that right deals with the distinction between an adult’s right to freely express him or herself vs. the need to protect minors from “indecent” material. Whose responsibility is it to protect minors from this “indecent” content? One suggestion is that it’s the parent’s responsibility to decide what his/her child has access to. One way for the parent to limit access is to install filtering technology that limits what users can view online. Another suggestion is that it’s the role of government to implement appropriate laws. In the case of television, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) oversees content and fines broadcasters who disseminate harmful content. For example, Janet Jackson’s 2004 “nipplegate,” which aired during a Superbowl half-time show (produced by MTV) to a prime-time audience. In regard to online content, the Child Online Protection Act (“COPA”) attempts to balance the regulation of content in a way that’s as least restrictive as possible to freedom of speech while at the same time limiting minor’s access to inappropriate content.

The MTV show “Skins” introduces another entity that regulates content — community organizations, such as the Parents Television Council, who police for (what they consider to be) indecent material and then exert power via media coverage. For example, several advertisers have pulled out of sponsorship deals for “Skins” in response to such criticism. Still, this doesn’t legally inhibit MTV from broadcasting the show (the content has not (yet) been declared indecent by the FCC).

Originally a British show, “Skins” has been tamed for American audiences. However, online streaming of content enables U.S. teens to watch the more risque, British, version of the show than what will be aired on TV. How would a parent limit his/her child’s access to the online show? One way to resolve this issue is for parents to install filters, especially since the laws of what’s harmful to minors differs from country to country. In addition, the use of filters affords parents the flexibility to parent in the way they best see fit. Parents will inevitably have differing views of what is appropriate for their children and the technological architecture of filtering, at the point of consumption, affords parents their needed flexibility.

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Welcome to INFO 205!

This blog will be a space for you to share thoughts, stories, and links relevant to the content covered in INFO 205. Course details are available by following these links:

Since many students come into 205 unfamiliar with legal writing, we’ve also created a page of links to Resources that will help you as we move through the course material. If you come across any other links that you find useful, please email them to jhemerly@ischool and we’ll add them to the list.

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