University of Louisville Law Faculty Blog
Viacom, owner of cable's Comedy Central channel, took a lot of flak from netizens when it forced Google to pull videos from its popular Daily Show with Jon Stewart from YouTube. Yesterday, it debuted its creative answer: a website with every episode of the show from its inception in 1999. The website, sponsored by Hyundai, is free, requires no log-in, and (like YouTube) allows fans to embed clips into their email, web pages, blogs, as well Myspace and Facebook pages.
This represents a surprisingly sensible approach to an intellectual property challenge. Viacom controls the usage of its property, while giving users much of the usability of YouTube with higher quality footage. And they pick up a little change (Hyundai's mini-ads) that wasn't realistically available through silly per-use schemes. Let's hope they extend the principle to other programs (like the Colbert Report)...
As an example, here's Jon's practical method of predicting how the Supreme Court will rule in a case:
Not being a daytime TV watcher, I would not have normally seen the footage of Ellen Degeneres' tearful story of how a Pasadena animal shelter had taken back a dog she had given the children of a co-worker. That is, I wouldn't have except NBC chose to include it in last night's Nightly News with Brian Williams. Besides being confused as how this fit in with the ominous story that preceded it concerning a mutual defense pact between Iran and Russia, I also wondered about what kind of contract would allow the Mutts and Moms animal adoption agency to do this? Luckily Access Hollywood--a legal resource almost as reliable as YouTube--has posted the contract between Ellen and the animal rescue/adoption agency.
In a conversation around the coffee pot before either of us had seen the actual instrument, Professor David Ensign, who teaches copyright, surmised that the contract was likely more of a license than an agreement to transfer property, analogizing it to a shinkwrap license for software. On reading it, I think he was quite right, although it is an odd document and was certainly not copied from West's Legal Forms.
OK, ok, so the number may not be exactly seven. However, the one question that people have asked me is why I focus on decanal sins so much, particularly the "deadly sins." Aren't there decanal virtues? The simple answer is "yes."
I was thinking about titling this entry "In Praise of Tom." In general, I do not intend to write about individual deans. This blog is not about individuals, but rather is about decanal issues. But I'm going to make an exception in this case (as well as in one later blog).
The "Tom" that I'm referring to is no longer with us. No, no, he isn't dead. He has simply left the decanal and law school ranks to become a university president. But he is "gone" in the sense that we no longer have the pleasure of seeing him. Of course, the "Tom" that I'm referring to is Tom Galligan (however, I'll refer to another "Tom" in a later entry).
So, why do I link this Tom with "decanal virtues?" Galligan was an extraordinary dean because he eschewed decanal narcissism and focused on ways to promote and further his faculty and his institution. Unlike some deans, Tom realized that a law school advances through the collective efforts of its faculty and staff.
Of course, I never had the pleasure of serving under Tom. However, I sensed that his faculty held him in like regard. When the Louisville deanship came open, I remarked to a friend at Tennessee that I had my eye on Tom (who was stepping down as dean at Tennessee) as our new dean. She told me in no uncertain terms that I had better not think about taking him away from them.
Even though I did not serve under Tom, I saw his virtuous traits from my position as Executive Director of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools. Whenever I'd send out a request for panelists, I would receive an immediate response from Tom touting one of his faculty members. The net effect was that a lot more of Tom's faculty ended up on important panels than might otherwise have happened. In addition, he was unfailingly thoughtful in SEALS discussions and never allowed his ego to get in the way.
I am pleased to say that there are lots of other deans like Tom in our region. However, Tom was a pleasure to work with and is missed in the region (and, I'm sure, especially at Tennessee).
As someone who is very interested in mental health issues in general and mental health in legal academia in particular, I highly recommend Elyn R. Saks's new book The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness (Hyperion 2007). It is amazing saga of a woman who has had an outstanding leal academic career despite coping with schizophrenia, the most severe of all the mental illnesses. It undercuts the stigma of mental illness, and overall is a memoir anyone interested in mental illness or the world of legal academics should be sure to read.
Like "military intelligence," "Senate ethics" is a phrase in search of a joke. The recent decision of Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) to remain in the Senate despite a recent decision of a Minnesota judge upholding his misdemeanor guilty plea (see the Hennepin court's website for the ruling), now appears to have shifted the controversy over his arrest in an airport restroom to the Senate Ethics Committee. Why? The short answer is that the embarrassed Republican leadership has referred the case to the ethics committee, the only Senate committee with equal representation from the majority and minority parties. (The Democratic majority, which sees more hypocrisy than high crime in the matter, appears to be giving the Senate majority enough rope to perhaps hang itself).
The long answer has to do with the Constitutional powers of the Congress to discipline its members and how they have evolved over the years. At first blush, the case hardly looks like a ethics matter--indeed the Senate Ethics Code <http://ethics.senate.gov> has great detail on financial disclosure, gifts, travel reimbursements, honoraria, outside employment, conflicting interests, post employment restrictions, campaign activities, and mass mailings but nothing on misdemeanor disorderly conduct. However, the Senate has long taken the view that its power to discipline is more expansive than the ethics code, and that it is only limited by Article I, Section 5 of the U.S. Constitution states in part that: "Each House may determine the Rules of its proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member."
In proposing a permanent standing committee on ethics in the Senate, Senator John Sherman Cooper (R-KY) noted that the new Select Committee on Ethics was intended ‘‘to be free to investigate anything which, in its judgment, seemed worthy, deserving, and requiring investigation’’ 34 and ‘‘would not be limited to alleged violations of Senate rules, but it would take into account all improper conduct of any kind whatsoever.’’ 34 110 Cong. Rec. 16,933, (1964) cited in Senate Ethics Manual, Select Committee on Ethics, United States Senate, 108th Congress, 1st Session (2003 Edition) (Supersedes All Prior Editions) 13.
Just as Sen. Cooper drew on the example of the Senate's censure of Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-MN) in fashioning the committee's broad powers, the Craig matter may strike an important precedent, no matter how trivial the case looks now. If the Senate ethics committee is used merely as a political tool for forcing out members who embarrass their party, it seriously diminishes its role as a quasi-juridical and nonpartisan body that seeks to restore the public's faith in Congress as an institution. Especially when its message is that heterosexual sexual misdemeanors (like Sen. David Vitter's (R-LA) self-admitted use of prostitutes) are acceptable, but homosexual sexual misdemeanors are not...