Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Terry Pratchett on free speech theory

Terry Pratchett, the great fantasist, has just released another Discworld book, Thud!, about immigration and racial tension as played out among the trolls and dwarfs of Ankh-Morpork. In the process, he has a character restate one of the great problems of free speech theory -- a sort of concise Kent Greenawalt moment.

Lord Vetinari, ruler of Ankh-Morpork, begins: "'... A wise ruler thinks twice before directing violence against someone because he does not approve of what they say.'"

Watch Commander Sam Vimes thinks, in response, "He himself directed violence daily and with a certain amount of enthusiasm against people, because he didn't approve of them saying things like 'Give me all your money' or 'What are you going to do about it, copper?' But perhaps rulers had to think differently."

You should read the book because it's good; Pratchett is perceptive and humane as well as darned funny.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Mattel Toys, infringement inducer?

So Mattel is coming out with this videocamera for kids, the Vidster, allowing them to shoot digital video, presumably including video in a movie theater. Given what the Supreme Court said about the evidentiary effect of Grokster's choice of name, was Vidster really a smart branding choice?