Author: Gerard Magliocca

4

The Pirate Party

I noted with interest that120px-skull_and_crossbonessvg1 the Swedish Pirate Party won a seat in the European Parliament last week.  I’d never heard of them, but found to my surprise that they are the third largest party in Sweden.  Moreover, many other countries, including the United States, now have a Pirate Party.  So what do the pirates stand for?

While I won’t list the whole platform (it varies from country to country), the Pirate Party clearly supports a radical reduction in intellectual property rights.  The U.S. version calls for the repeal of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the end of digital rights management, support for file sharing, and a return to a 14 year term for copyrights as provided in the 1790 Copyright Act. 

Read More

6

Law vs. Culture in Intellectual Property

On Friday and Saturday I’ll be at a conference at GW Law School on “Patents and Entrepreneurship in Business and Information Technologies.”  As I prelude to my talk there (about Bilski), I thought I’d write about an aspect of innovation policy that probably deserves more attention.

When people think about how to improve public education, the debate tends to break down along the lines of “money” vs. “values.”  In other words. some people say that the problem with schools is that we don’t spend enough money on them or that the money that is spent is unequally distributed.  The other view is children don’t work hard enough, parents are not involved in their children’s lives, or society emphasizes other values at the expense of education.  Both of these criticisms have merit, and you cannot get successful education reform without responding to both.

Read More

3

Elected Judges

While83px-henry_clay I’m tempted to talk about the stay of the Chrysler bankruptcy sale, let’s stick with the Court’s opinion (issued yesterday) in Caperton.  This case on elected judges, due process, and campaign contributions is well worth reading, especially given Chief Justice Roberts’ dissent and its “Forty Questions” for the majority.

An elected judiciary is one of the most important (and unique) institutions in American law, but it gets almost no scholarly attention.  (Jed Shugerman at Harvard and Renee Lerner at GW are trying to rectify that with some terrific work).  In 1841, Henry Clay (on the right) asked the Supreme Court to disregard a decision from Mississippi that was being appealed because the state had an elected judiciary (it was the only state with elected judges at all levels.)

Read More

2

“Yes, Minister” on Government Failure

450px-big_ben-150x1501Courtesy of Sir Humphrey Appleby, here are the five standard excuses for mistakes in public policy.

1.  The Antony Blunt Excuse

“There is a perfectly satisfactory explanation for everything, but security forbids its disclosure.”

2.  The Education Excuse

“It’s only gone wrong because of heavy cuts in staff and budget which have stretched supervisory resources beyond the limits.”

Read More

6

Is California Too Big To Fail?

120px-flag_of_californiasvgCalifornia is in the midst of another budget meltdown.  Many say that the problem is a structural one and can be corrected only by a constitutional overhaul of the supermajority rule for passing budgets and through limitations on the use of ballot propositions to dictate taxes and spending.  There is a movement to call a constitutional convention in the State, but as I don’t live there, I’m not really in a position to comment one way or the other.

Read More

2

Twenty Years Later

800px-tiananmen_square_visitThis is the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.  As the Co-Director of IU-Indy’s China Summer Program, I’ve spent quite a bit of time in China over the last seven years.  I am not a China expert, but I do know more about legal reform there than the average bear. So I thought I would try to provide some perspective on where things stand.

It is fair to say that individual freedom has increased for the average citizen so long as they are:  (1) Han Chinese; (2) not that religious; (3) not interested in joining the Falun Gong or any other civil organization that rivals the Communist Party; and (4) not a lawyer bringing cases against state action.  

Read More

2

Nobody’s Perfect

508px-silhouette_gunsvgYesterday the Seventh Circuit — in a decision handed down just one week after oral argument — held that the Fourteenth Amendment does not incorporate the Second Amendment against the States. The opinion by Judge Easterbrook (joined by Judge Posner) reasoned that Supreme Court precedent from the nineteenth century was dispositive.  Despite the Ninth Circuit’s recent holding to the contrary, I think the Seventh Circuit has the better of the argument as to what an appellate court should do given the prior Supreme Court dicta on the subject. 

Read More

0

A New Federal Bailout

I wrote this for some friends during the original congressional hearings on GM in November.  Given the news of today, I figured it was worth a rerunsanta_claus_icon:

 

AP:  Washington, DC. — Santa Claus was greeted with deep skepticism on Capitol Hill this afternoon as he told members of Congress that he could not fund operations for the remainder of the year without federal assistance.

“Global warming created a real estate bubble in the North Pole that has burst,” Santa explained. “Now my elves are under water and under water on their houses too.” Aggressive cost-cutting steps, such as selling reindeer and reducing mall appearances, have failed to stem the tide of red ink.

Read More

1

Odds and Ends

Here’s an update on three things that I have blogged about:

1.  As Michael indicated, the Supreme Court granted cert in Bilski.  I am reluctant to say that this is the most important patent case in years, because it sounds too much like the cliche that an election is the “most important in our lifetime,” which is repeated every four years.  But the Justices did reject the SG’s advice to deny the petition, which suggests that something is afoot.  (Gratuitous citations to my business method patent paper on SSRN are always welcome.)

Read More

0

“Yes, Minister” on Professors

450px-big_ben

“No one really understands the true nature of fawning servility until he sees an academic who has glimpsed the prospect of money or personal publicity.”

“The surprising thing about academics is not that they have their price, but how low that price is.”