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07/10/2005

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» More Schooling for Posner from Copyfight
Edward Felten, who earlier took the Honorable Richard A. Posner to task for embracing a technological "non-starter" for stopping copyright infringment on P2P networks (tagging content + filtering), enters the fray once more -- countering Judge Posner's... [Read More]

» Judge Posner Is Ripping Me Off from Greyhame: Law and Law School
Not actually, of course. Although Judge Posner's most recent on the Grokster case does contain some ideas that are a bit troubling; but I won't go into that here. FTR does just as good a job as needs doing. Rather,... [Read More]

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Michael Levy

the desired characteristics of a gun (weight, accuracy, killing power, price, reliability, speed of action, and number of rounds) are generally independent of whether the gun is to be used legally or illegally

Other characteristics:
http://library.findlaw.com/2001/Aug/1/126093.html

In support of their case, the shooting victims pointed to evidence that the TEC-9/DC9 had no legitimate purpose because it was too inaccurate even for target shooting. The TEC-9/DC9 was designed to be fired from the shooter's hip; the barrel of the gun was threaded to accommodate silencers and flash suppressors; and Navegar advertised the assault weapon as having excellent resistance to fingerprints. Navegar's director of national sales and marketing testified that he welcomed negative news stories about the TEC-9/DC9s because "whenever anything negative has happened, sales have gone tremendously high."

I'm not sure all of those are illegitimate characteristics for a weapon desired for lawful uses, but those are the kind of characteristics those suing a gun manufacturer could cite.

Palooka

The characteristics of the gun are not of much importance because their is always the LEGAL use of firearms for self-defense. Effective self-defense can be accomplished by lethality of course. Pointing to lethality, then, does not seem to particularly helpful. Guns are more often than not DESIGNED to be lethal.

However, given the state of technology, there are many plausible ways of restricting the use of the firearm to only the registered user. I have read about, but I am uncertain of the current state of, technology that identifies fingerprints.

Now, given the suggestion that programmers be required to incorporate "cost-effective" measures to prevent copyright infringement, I wonder why a similar standard could not be applied to ANY other product, including the hot topic of firearms. Anybody concerned about abuses of the tort system should be very wary about judicially imposed "cost-effective" standards whatever the product may be. The Betamax case was correctly decided for this reason--it's a slippery and uncertain slope when you start down this path.

Michael Levy

Rather than just computers, it seems it would make more sense to tax all devices capable of playing electronic music (excluding very low-quality formats like midi).

This would mean taxing sound cards and motherboards with integrated sound, but not computers that can't play sound (servers? databases?).

In fact, the tax could even be proportional to the quality of sound the device is capable of producing.

I imagine there would be a cottage industry for DIY assembly of digital media players. Connect an embedded processor to a stick of flash memory, a battery, a microphone jack, and a USB port, and people could make their own "myPods."

This proposal could also create the perverse effect of increasing prices for the electronic audio equipment many artists use to create their music, and would end up double-taxing those of us who pay for music and music-related goods that exist to support bands (band merchandise, etc.).
---
I think all of that could be remedied:

Persons or businesses could get rebates on the music hardware fees in an amount proportional to what they spent on music-related things (CDs, concert tickets, band T-shirts, band expenses, voluntary donations to bands).
---Another problem would still exist: what scheme would we use to distribute the money raised by taxes? A scheme tied to the number of downloads of certain artists' songs would 1) require the gov't to keep track of the number of downloads and 2) invite exploitation by the use of programs that would download music without humans ever hearing it.

michael persoon

To Michael Levy:

Re: analogous application to firearm manufacturers

The issue is not that there is always a possible legitimate lethal use. The issue is whether or not the manufacturer is inducing and encouraging illegal use of the product.

Just as there is always a legal lethal use of a firearm (excluding certain types of fireams or certain jurisdictions regulating ownership) there is always a legal use of file sharing networks. In Grokster, the court held that unlike is Betamax, the manufacturer induced/encouraged illegal uses of their product and benefitted from that illegal use. Presumably if the same standard could be met in any industry (OTC drug manufacturer, gun manufacturer, "water pipe" (bong) manufacturer they could similarly be regualted and penalized. In the case of Navegar, the evidence could suggest that they are intentionally marketing to a criminal element and encouraging use of their product for illegal purposes.

dude

RE: indirect liability -- eBay is notorious for facilitating the sale of stolen goods. It makes no effort at all to stem those sales. I guess in this case there's no organization that can push eBay to do anything.

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