Update on Sober = Drunk in Washington DC

Earlier this week, I wrote a post on how people can be arrested for DUI even when they have a BAC well below the legal limit of .08. The Washington Post article I blogged about sparked a considerable public outcry, and now the DC Council is rushing to revise the law. According to a follow-up article in the Washington Post:

D.C. Council members, swamped with irate calls and threats to boycott

D.C. bars and restaurants, introduced emergency legislation yesterday

that would override the police department’s controversial and

little-known zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving.


Does Google Image Search Violate Copyright Law?

googleimagesearch.jpgPerfect10, an adult industry website, has sued Google claiming that Google Image Search is violating its copyright. For those who haven’t tried it, Google Image Search is a terrific resource. One can search the web for images, which appear as thumbnails on the search results page. EFF, which has filed an amicus brief in the case, argues on its website:

Thumbnails created by Google Image Search allow users to identify information they are looking for online and then access that information—much like an electronic card catalog. As certain information about images can only be conveyed visually, there is no other feasible way to provide image search on the Internet than capturing images, transforming them into thumbnails, and then displaying them on a search results page for users.


The Most Expensive Blog Ad Ever?

To post an advertisement for just one day on the home page for WordPress, which gets about 11,000 unique visits per day, how much do you think it costs? $50 per day? $100? $200?

Nope. Try $20,000! That’s right — $20,000 for just one day. Ads for a week cost $100,000 and ads for a month cost $250,000.


No takers so far. If there are, you might start to see a lot of ads here . . .

Hat tip: Google Blogoscoped


The Music of the Law

Unlike my co-bloggers, I practice law for a living. Like most would-be lawyers my view of practice was powerfully shaped by Law & Order episodes. I do mainly civil and appellate litigation, so my practice contains few trips to Attica, but I did envision the practice of law as being a much more social endeavor. At the very least, I expected there to be some noise. My law firm, however, tends to be a very quiet place. People work in their offices, and if they talk they do so in conference rooms. There is none of the noisy bustle of the Law & Order DA’s office. As it happens, I don’t think well in silence. I find it distracting and unnerving. Even in college, for example, I found it impossible to study economics in the library. The quiet destroyed my concentration, so I always did econ work in the student union cafeteria. At work, I escape the silence by closing my door and playing music, which leads to the important question of which music goes with which tasks.

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Should We All Be in the National DNA Database?

dna4.jpgThe Senate recently voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. But nestled in the Act was an amendment by Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) to add arrestee information to the national DNA database. The national DNA database, which is run by the FBI, is called the Combined DNA Index System (“CODIS”), and it includes DNA from over two million convicted criminals. This DNA is used to identify matches with DNA found at crime scenes.

In a press release, Senator Leahy (D-Vermont) states:

Regrettably, this important bill was saddled in Committee with an extraneous and ill-considered amendment, offered by Senator Kyl, relating to the national DNA database. Current law permits States to collect DNA samples from arrested individuals and to include arrestee information in State DNA databases. In addition, States may use arrestee information to search the national DNA database for a possible “hit.” The only thing that States may not do is upload arrestee information into the national database before a person has been formally charged with a crime.

Under the Kyl amendment, arrestee information can go into the national database immediately upon arrest, before formal charges are filed, and even if no charges are ever brought. This adds little or no value for law enforcement, while intruding on the privacy rights of people who are, in our system, presumed innocent. It could also provide an incentive for pretextual and race-based stops and arrests for the purpose of DNA sampling. Congress rejected this very proposal less than a year ago, after extended negotiations and consultation with the Department of Justice.

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Some posts of possible interest around the legal blogosphere:

Eugene Volokh points out a funny obit. (This seems to be part of a semi-regular semi-series; see funny star footnotes).

Will Baude ruminates about airborne citrus and constitutional interpretation.

The Notes Editors apparently gave Heidi Bond slightly more than two minutes.

Various parties weigh in on Schelling’s Bank-of-Sweden prize:

-Brian Leiter reminds us all that it’s not a Nobel, no matter now what the VC says.

-Drezner takes issue with Slate’s criticism of Schelling’s Vietnam involvement.

Christine Hurt is becoming Dagny Taggart. In related news, Gordon Smith has invented an unbreakable new metal. . .

Ethan Lieb thinks reprints are obsolete; Ben Barros disagrees.


Fictions, Concessions & Genossenschaft

Kaimi’s post about corporations and constitutional rights has provoked a response from Will Baude, who points out that at the time that the Fourteenth Amendment was passed it is not as though considering corporations as persons was beyond the pale. My own response to this issue (aside from a hearty “What Will said!”) is — in the best tradition of legal academia — self citation. Consider the following gem from “Corporations and Autonomy Theories of Contract,” forthcoming in the next issue of the Denver University Law Review:

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Must see TV…


Normally, I think that blog posts that simply link to another blog and say “hey this is cool,” are pretty dumb. On the other hand, this is a really cool post. Check it out!


Preparing for a Bird Flu Pandemic

pandemic3.jpgBird flu has now captured the attention of the news. While I’m generally not one to become overly concerned with armaggedon scenarios, a flu pandemic strikes me as a particularly realistic and frightening possibility. Pandemics occur periodically, and the experts all seem to be extremely concerned.

I believe that it is important to view this as a national security issue. National security has become almost synonymous with the protection against terrorism, and we assess the success and failure of government officials in keeping us secure primarily with terrorism in mind. But national security should also be understood as the ability to prevent and respond to natural disasters and outbreaks of disease. The destruction terrorists might cause is often small when compared to what nature can do. According to Newsweek:

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The Law of Harry Potter

potter5a.jpgWhat are the criminal consequences of a curse? Can a person commit a tort by unfair Quidditch play? How can the law of the Muggles be harmonized with the law of the Wizarding World? For a long time, attorneys struggled over these issues without much legal guidance. But that problem has now been fixed by Aaron Schwabach (law, Thomas Jefferson), who has posted an article on SSRN analyzing the law of Harry Potter: Harry Potter and the Unforgivable Curses: Norm-formation, Inconsistency, and the Rule of Law in the Wizarding World. According to the abstract:

The astounding success of the Harry Potter series of children’s fantasy novels is an unexpected cultural phenomenon, but a welcome one for lawyers and legal academics: Harry’s story is a story about law, and about a society trying to establish a rule of law. There is law in every chapter, and on almost every page, of all six books. Sometimes the legal questions hang in the background, while at other times they are the focus of the story: We see numerous trials, and the author gives us statutes, regulations, school rules, and even international agreements to consider.

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