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Court Protects Anonymous Blogs October 7, 2005

Posted by Tycho in Chatter.
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In an extremely unique and pertinent topic, the Detroit Free Press reports on a recent case presented to the Delaware Supreme Court where Smyrna councilman Patrick Cahill had petitioned the lower court to reveal the identities of four anonymous bloggers who, among other charges, had caused him “obvious mental deterioration.”  The comments were posted on a site operated by Independent Newspapers Inc., who publishes the Delaware State News.  In June of this year, the lower court agreed with Cahill’s allegations of defamation and ordered Comcast to reveal the bloggers’ identities.

Today, however, the Delaware Supreme Court overturned that decision by the lower court, stating that Cahill’s allegations were lacking in proof.  In boldly upholding our First Amendment right to free and anonymous speech, Chief Justice Myron Steele wrote:

“We are concerned that setting the standard too low will chill potential posters from exercising their First Amendment right to speak anonymously.  The possibility of losing anonymity in a future lawsuit could intimidate anonymous posters into self-censoring their comments or simply not commenting at all.”

That possibility of losing our freedom of anonymous speech is very real, believe me.  Part of the reason I’m so excited about this blog the allure of speaking to an audience with relative anonymity.  My pseudonym protects both me and my words.  If you, my readers, knew who I was, I would be much more hesitant to openly speak my mind.  Instead, I would be constantly aware that those whom I might speak out against could later use my words against me, and as such, I would choose to restrain my speech.  The idea that those who feel criticised by our words can litigate us into the open is chilling at best.

“Given the context, no reasonable person could have interpreted these statements as being anything other than opinion. … The statements are, therefore, incapable of a defamatory meaning.”

This ruling by the Delaware Supreme Court, while limited in its scope, certainly helps set the precedent in protecting those of us who choose to publicly speak on the Internet.  It emboldens us writers to openly express our thoughts and minds while knowing that what we write is relatively protected.  Words are a very powerful tool, and today, it is truly reassuring to know that we can continue to use them as we see fit.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” — Voltaire


Which File Extension Are You? September 29, 2005

Posted by Tycho in Chatter.
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I always thought these personality quizzes were corny and promised myself I’d never dream of posting one.  But this one’s actually kinda cute.

You are .ogg Even though many people consider you cool and happening, a lot still find that you're a bit too weird to hang out with.

Personally, I prefer to focus on “cool and happening” and ignore the “too weird to hang out with” bit. 🙂 So, I gotta ask, which file extension are you?

Music Industry Greed September 28, 2005

Posted by Tycho in Chatter.
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[Updated 10-03-05: The Register has corrected the source of the quote, and is now reflected here as well.]

If you haven’t been keeping up, there’s lately been much verbal jousting between Apple’s Steve Jobs and the music industry.  While Apple insists upon keeping its iTunes Music Store prices at $0.99 a download, with the majority of that already going to the music industry, the music execs still aren’t content.  In their ever-continuing quest for profit, they want iTunes to increase their prices.  Yet, Jobs is steadfast in staying at $0.99.

Now, I’m sorry, but the most recent comments emanating out of law firms representing the music industry seem to be completely and utterly out of touch with reality.

“The industry can say, OK we’ll cut him off – very few people people buy music from digital downloads.”

Just a moment here.  All this time, the music industry has been lamenting the fact that people were illegally downloading music, and encouraged us to purchase our music from legitimate venues like iTunes.  Now, all of a sudden, we no longer matter?

“It’s going to be difficult to get the consumer to stop thinking about owning music, and think about paying for participation instead.”

Wow.  Please allow me a moment to regain my composure.  We should stop thinking about “owning” music and instead pay to “participate?”  What does that mean!?  Submit to some corporate idea of only accessing our music when they deem fit?  Is “participate” now synonymous with “borrowing?”

Warner is just deluding themselves if they think this will work.  The only reason people opt to buy music instead of illegally download is because: 1) it’s easy, and 2) it’s cheap.  If you eliminate either of those, especially by increasing its price, you immediately alienate your customers.  A mass exodus of music-lovers will gladly return to illegal downloads.  And the only people who lose out are, once again, the music industry.  You get no sympathy.

Hi! September 27, 2005

Posted by Tycho in Chatter.
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Hey folks!

I just wanted to officially introduce myself and say hi.  So, “Hi!”  I go by Tycho, and I’m totally new to this whole blogging thing.  I graciously received an invite to WordPress.com from a friend, and not knowing what I was getting myself into, here I am!  I’ve never blogged before — ever — so please bear with me as I learn about this new, wonderful place.  I’m sure to make some mistakes, but I’ll certainly try to learn from them as we get through this together.

I’ll make updates about…well…whatever I feel like whenever I get the chance.  As a grad student, time is not always a luxury, but I’d like to meet as many of you as possible!  As the site’s name implies, I’ll write about my lofty (and not-so-lofty) thoughts and musings.  No more, no less.

So to get things going, please don’t hesitate to stop by and leave a comment, or two!  Make some new friends, find some old ones, thanks for reading, and take care!