Free Credit Reports: My Exciting Adventure

Under the federal Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, the credit reporting agencies must provide a yearly free credit report to individuals who request it. This was one of the benefits given to consumers by the law in return for extending the federal preemption of certain state law regulations.

There are three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. You may have heard that there’s a new website where you can conveniently get your credit report from all three agencies. Since I pay attention to this field of law, I knew the name of the website, but many people I’ve spoken to don’t know what it is called.

But we live in the age of Google, so most people would just do a Google search for “free credit report.” Here’s what you pull up in your search:


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Debate on Privacy and Security Regulation

cnet1.jpgThere is an interesting set of debates going on this week over at CNET about information privacy and security regulation.

Participants include: Orson Swindle (former FTC commissioner); Jim Harper (director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute; member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee); Chris Hoofnagle (Director, Electronic Privacy Information Center West Coast Office); James Van Dyke (Founder and Principal of Javelin Strategy & Research); and California Senator Joe Simitian.

There are new topics each day. Today’s topic is state versus federal regulation of privacy and security, and the debate has also addressed the issue of whether common law tort regulation is preferable to legislative statutory regulation.


Win A Dream Getaway to the AALS Annual Meeting!!

vacation2a.jpgI couldn’t believe my eyes. It was just too good to be true. Just a few minutes ago, I got this email from the law school casebook publishing company, Foundation Press:

Tell me who you are and enter to win a trip to AALS: In order to bring you the most current and valuable information on Foundation Press publications in your subject areas, please take a moment to complete a short questionnaire to help me better understand your needs. When you do, you will be entered into a drawing for a trip for two to the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) 2006 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., January 3-7, 2006. The winner will be chosen from all law school faculty that complete the survey by November 11, 2005 – so hurry! For more information, see complete contest details.

Wow! A dream vacation. A trip to the AALS annual meeting — perhaps the world’s most exciting event! At the Marriott Wardman Park hotel, which evokes so many wonderful memories of the days when law professors were interviewing for jobs. And Washington, DC in January! I’m visualizing the sandy beaches, palm trees, warm tropical breezes, and glorious sunsets. It just can’t get any better. This is a prize truly too good to pass up.


Unusual Law School Classes

lawgavel.jpgI recently posted about a law school course about wine, only to discover that it’s not all that unusual. That got me thinking fondly of my days in law school, where there were many unusual courses – probably due to the fact I went to Yale. I located my old course bulletins, and here are 10 of my favorite unusual courses from those bulletins.

I also thought I’d invite readers who went to law school, are now in law school, or who are teaching in law school, to post in the comments their favorite unusual law school classes. And I thought I’d make a quiz out of this too.

· Favorite Unusual Courses: Please post in the comments some of the unusual courses from where you teach or where you went to school. Please be sure to indicate the law school where the course is taught. Any links to online course listings, if available, would be helpful to verify that the courses are indeed real. In the alternative, feel free to email the courses and descriptions to me.

· Quiz: A bit of puzzleblogging (inspired by the Volokh Conspiracy): Can you guess who taught these courses? Below the courses, I provide a list of instructors to select from. Extra credit: I took two of the ten courses below — guess which ones. Winner’s Prize: A whole lot of nothing.

Courses from the Yale Law School Bulletin


If morality is defined as recognition of the limits imposed upon one, then good law is an effective moral force. This seminar will explicate such a view and apply it to U.S. society.


In many law school courses, the primary focus is on law itself. In others, one or more of the law’s dramatis personae take center stage—the judge, the jury, the lawyer, the legislature, and occasionally even the litigant. This seminar will focus on an oft overlooked player – the witness – and on the very idea of witnessing.

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What Your Blog Is Worth

money4a.jpgShow me the money! Business Opportunities Weblog has created a nifty calculator that computes what your blog is worth. (Hat tip: BoingBoing.) According to the description:

Inspired by Tristan Louis’s research into the value of each link to Weblogs Inc, I’ve created this little applet using Technorati’s API which computes and displays your blog’s worth using the same link to dollar ratio as the AOL-Weblogs Inc deal.

Tristan Louis’s valuation scheme is based on AOL’s recent purchase of Weblogs, Inc.:

AOL bought Weblogs inc., the two year old weblog network founded by Jason Calacanis and Brian Alvey, for a number that is rumored to be anywhere between $25 million and $40 million. In this process, Time Warner may be providing some ideas as to the valuation of blogs by traditional media.

This link provides the rest of his rationale for his valuation scheme, which is based on the links to a blog, not the visitor traffic. I’ll leave it to those with more expertise to assess the strength of his valuation scheme.

So, using the blog value calculator provided at Business Opportunities Weblog, and without further delay, the value of Concurring Opinions is . . . drumroll . . . $33,307.86. And we’re not even a month old yet!

Here are the results for some popular law blogs. Not all blogs come up with values, including some very popular ones, so I don’t vouch for this one bit. But it sure is fun plugging in URLs:

Volokh Conspiracy = $1,327,798.08

— Orin, your colleagues expect many fine dinners and drinks on you

Balkinization = $285,092.70

Discourse.net = $173,878.32

Ideoblog = $55,889.46

Conglomerate = $135,489.60

Crescat Sententia = $114,601.62

How Appealing = $276,624.60

Instapundit = $3,826,452.12

— Nearly $4 million.  Wow!

Legal Theory Weblog = $166,539.30

Leiter Reports = $260,817.48

SCOTUSBlog = $587,121.60

Yin Blog = $46,856.82

Underneath Their Robes = $163,716.60

And finally, the Harriet Miers’s Blog! is worth $277,753.68. By the way things are looking, she should sell now.


Genetic Testing: Further Debate with Richard Epstein

dna7.jpgRichard Epstein has posted a reply continuing our debate over whether employers should be able to use genetic testing information to make employment decisions regarding employees. Here are the posts in our debate so far:

1. Solove, IBM vs. NBA: Using Employee Genetic Information

2. Epstein, Two Cheers for Genetic Testing

3. Solove, A Reply to Richard Epstein on Genetic Testing

4. Epstein, A Third Cheer for Genetic Testing

Epstein’s latest reply, A Third Cheer for Genetic Testing, slips in another cheer for genetic testing. He asserts that my argument that genetic information only reveals propensities, not the presence of certain conditions, actually cuts in favor of employers using genetic information:

That information should not make the employer instantly hand out a pink slip. It is one factor among many to be taken into the overall assessment. The insurance could be supplied, but in exchange for an additional premium that reflects that additional risk. Or the health insurance could be supplied subject to an exclusion for the risky condition. Judgments like that are made all the time in the insurance business, and there is no reason why they cannot be made with the processing of genetic information.

Epstein is certainly correct that genetic information is helpful in assessing risk, and he is right that employers need not just fire or refuse to hire people with genetic predispositions. But there are larger normative issue at stake: What risks ought people to bear? Who ought to bear these risks? How ought these risk to be distributed throughout society?

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Orly Lobel at TJ

lobelo.jpg I just had the pleasure of listening to Orly Lobel’s talk here at TJ, “Sleeping with the Enemy or Effective Public Management?: Government/Industry Cooperation for Promoting Workers’ Rights.” Her talk was loosely based on her forthcoming article in the Administrative Law Review, Interlocking Regulatory and Industrial Relations, The Governance of Workplace Safety.

Orly presented three major ideas: First, that a diversification in the forms of safety regulation could increase the effectiveness and legitimacy of governance; second, that principles needed to be developed for evaluating the effectiveness of shifts away from command and control; and third, that legal boundaries between labor and adminitrative law regimes have important effects on the ability to implement new types of governance. For examples of how these ideas work in real life, she discussed regulatory reforms in Maine, as well as a nationwide, voluntary safety certification program. Orly is an engaging speaker, and I found her presentation — on a topic about which I know next-to-nothing — to be interesting and informative. And I’ve made a mental note to keep an eye on her scholarship, which is a fun mix of empirical work and theoretical discussion.


Another Note on the Influence of Bloggers

In response to Dan’s post on the influence of bloggers, Oren Kerr and Todd Zywicki chime in here and here. The discussion reminds me of a story that I recently heard. Each year, the Republicans in Congress have a retreat to the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. This year one of the major themes at the retreat was the role of blogs in the 2004 election. In particular, most GOP Senators think that Daschle was largely brought down by local bloggers who played watch dog to the local, pro-Daschle press by highlighting positions taken in Washington that were to the left of his constituents. I don’t know that this blip has transformed itself into any deep and abiding interest (and hence influence) on the Hill. Still, the message at Greenbrier seems to have been that politicians ignore the blogosphere at their peril.


Google & Grokster


Being new to the blogosphere, I missed out on the initial round of comments on the pending litigation between the Authors Guild and Google over Google Print, Google’s effort to create a searchable database of print books. My sympathies tend to be with Google, as I have yet to see a strong, non-circular argument that authors would be economically harmed by Google Print (at least as I have heard it described).

But even if you believe, as do I, that Google’s activities are or should be fair use, there’s an interesting separate question re: what efforts, if any, Google should be obligated to take to keep the digitized books secure from third parties. For example, what if third parties could use Google Print to easily reconstruct full digital versions of print books (e.g. by sending a series of overlapping queries to Google Print and reassembling the search results)?

Presumably, Google could implement all sorts of technical measures to make this kind of activity more difficult (and indeed, there is some indication that it has implemented them). But what if it didn’t implement any of these measures? Should it be obligated to?

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Are Bloggers Having an Influence Inside the Beltway?

blogger2.jpgFrom the National Journal’s Beltway Blogroll Blog, Daniel Glover takes a skeptical look at the influence of blogs:

This year, bloggers are the figurative freshmen of larger Washington. They have won enough respect in certain pockets of America to claim occasional seats at the policymaking table — but they are definitely back seats.

That reality has been abundantly evident the past couple of weeks, as conservative bloggers have been showered with ever more attention from the Republican powers that be — yet have nothing substantive to show for it.

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