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Posts posted by RussK

  1. In your previous post, you said that manslaughter is the charge most applicable to Zimmerman. Do you still believe that?

    If so, do you support the practice of the prosecution approaching a case where manslaughter is the most applicable charge, by filing a more serious charge and letting the jury sort it out?

    Maybe my statement wasn't clear. Yes, I do think that manslaughter is most applicable to Zimmerman, hence:

    "I think that, from everything that I know about the case, manslaughter would be a minimum charge that could be applied to Zimmerman." Additionally, I also support the charge of second degree murder if the evidence available to the prosecution warrants it: "If the prosecutors have evidence to warrant a second degree murder charge, which assume they have enough, then I have no problem with the charge."

  2. Russ, have you looked up any statutes regarding assault and when a simple assault becomes a felony assault? Because I'm pretty sure you're wrong that Martin's actions on that night were mere simple assault.

    I'm more interested in the statutes you think could actually be used to convict martin. I believe the spirit of the "unreasonable activity" condition of these sets of laws is that such activity is unreasonable because it exposes others to needless risk. I don't think Zimmerman's choice to follow Martin was unreasonable. Even if you do, you must admit that exposing yourself (Zimmerman) to risk because of unreasonable activity is not the same as exposing another (Martin) to risk because of unreasonable activity. It cannot be the case that asking someone who they are and what they are doing exposes them to risk. It cannot be the case that cowardice in the face of a potential crime is the benchmark for reason.

    Yes, I did some research on assault and felony assault, which I kind of alluded to a few times, especially in the short paragraph on justifiable homicide. From what I remember, assault becomes a felony when either a) great bodily harm is done, or B) a deadly weapon was involved. Of course, what constitutes "great bodily harm" will be debated, I'm sure, in court; but that's why I mentioned Zimmerman's nose and head, as I didn't think those injuries consisted of great bodily harm. Also, another factor I think is important: Zimmerman himself said that he didn't shoot Martin because he was getting a beat down, Zimmerman said he decided to shoot Martin when Martin was going for his gun; so that could be a troubling defense for Zimmerman.

    I don't actually think we disagree with the spirit of ordinary caution as it is applied to excusable homicide, etc..., but I don't think that Zimmerman used ordinary caution, and the person affected was Martin. When you say that asking someone who they are and what they are doing doesn't violate the spirit of ordinary caution, I think you are making some assumptions about the evidence and treating the actual event a little too simply. Sure, we have Zimmerman saying that that's all he wanted to do, but other evidence, including statements, reenactments, etc.., could easily contradict that idea when the trial starts. Additionally, it wasn't as simple as Zimmerman approaching Martin; there is the whole context and environment leading up to the point of Martin's death. Lastly, while it may be true that Zimmerman thought Martin was going to commit a crime--and I don't have reason to just toss that possibility out--the fact of the matter is that Martin committed no crime, so I don't think the statement about cowardice in the face of a potential crime applies very well. In fact, I'd suggest that if Zimmerman's defense goes along the lines that it is perfectly normal for civilians to case people, then pursue them while armed, to ask them questions, them Zimmerman has no hope.

  3. So you're OK with the tactic of threatening him with a murder charge (and the sentence of life in prison that goes along with it), because he may be guilty of manslaughter?

    I'm just asking, not conceding that he may be guilty of anything. I think he'll be acquitted, but there is a risk involved, and if prosecutors are allowed to use this tactic, then, coupled with the fact that 90% of cases end in a plea bargain, the presumption of innocence and the right to a fair trial go out the window. Prosecutors can just use this tactic to gain a 90% conviction rate without ever winning a single trial.

    No. I think that, from everything that I know about the case, manslaughter would be a minimum charge that could be applied to Zimmerman. If the prosecutors have evidence to warrant a second degree murder charge, which assume they have enough, then I have no problem with the charge.

  4. You presented an argument in favor of him being charged with manslaughter. I pointed out that he is being charged with murder.

    What's the point in arguing that manslaughter charges are justified, if someone is being charged with murder?

    Imho, when someone is charged with murder by the government, the issue to raise and debate is whether charging him with murder is justified or not. Not whether charging him with manslaughter would've been appropriate or not.

    Yes, I did. It was my opinion, and still is. The point of giving that opinion, which should be quite obvious, is that I think that manslaughter is the charge most applicable to Zimmerman. And, by the way, as I made clear, second degree murder includes all "lesser included offenses," one of which is a manslaughter charge.

  5. I think Craig Biddle is spot on, especially as it pertains to this election, concerning the reality of the election and our realistic choices in preventing a great deal of future destruction to our country. I have never voted for a member of the GOP or Democratic Party for federal office, but Biddle's commentary has persuaded me a great deal. As for voting for Gary Johnson, I'll just quote my response to Biddle's reply to one of my comments on the TOS blog:

    "One argument I usually make in regards to not voting, is that, if one continues to vote (Republican), the only candidates that will be elected in the future will be the same old rights violating politicians. Unfortunately, the stakes may be too high to abstain or register a protest vote in this election."

  6. **It has obviously been more than a few days, the amount of time I said I would respond back. Unfortunately, all my free time of recent was taken doing other things, mostly fun; this is the time of year in Minnesota that everyone is in a mad rush with festivals and sporting events to close out the last days of summer. I hope that is excuse enough. As far as I know, the only thing noteworthy to have occurred between the last time I posted and now, is that Zimmerman’s lawyers are trying to get the case thrown out on stand your ground, but, in fact, they are gearing up for a defense that doesn’t use that statute.**

    Manslaughter, as it applies to this case, is the act of killing someone without justification under chapter 776 and when the killing is not deemed excusable homicide under chapter 782—these statutes can be found in URLs provided above, in prior posts. There is no doubt that Zimmerman killed Martin, but many believe that the killing was justified. The point here, with this post, is to show how the killing of Martin may not be excusable under Florida statute, and how that would leave Zimmerman culpable for, at the minimum, a manslaughter charge.

    Justifiable Homicide

    Zimmerman’s killing may be considered justifiable homicide (782.02) if it can be shown that Martin was either a) going to murder Zimmerman or B) was going to assault him to the point that the act of the assault would be considered not a misdemeanor, but, instead, a felony.

    Excusable Homicide

    Zimmerman’s killing of Martin can be argued to be not excusable under 782.03. His means might have been lawful, but it can be presented that he did not act with “usual ordinary caution,” a position that I hold. The next two types of excusable homicide found within this section, heat of passion and sudden combat, do not apply to Zimmerman; there wasn’t heat of passion for Zimmerman—however, it could be argued that this could apply to Martin—and sudden combat only applies when a deadly weapon was not used.

    Unnecessary Killing to Prevent an Unlawful Act

    Any unnecessary killing of another person while resisting a felony committed by that person, or any other unlawful act—even if a criminal act has failed—“shall be deemed guilty of manslaughter” (782.11). Of course, that is the crux here, the prosecutors will argue that it was unjustified and unnecessary for Zimmerman to kill Martin, and the defense will argue in opposition. My opinion, without having the full evidence, is that the killing was unnecessary, partly for reasons outlined above, that Zimmerman did not use ordinary caution and placed himself in the situation; and also because a broken nose and busted head isn’t enough for me to categorize it as felony assault. In fact, if I remember correctly, Zimmerman acknowledged this point implicitly when he said that he had to dispatch Martin when Martin started going for Zimmerman’s gun.

    Use of Force in Defense of a Person

    Use of force in defense of a person, including use of deadly force (776.012) very well may apply to Zimmerman if it is shown he thought his life was in imminent jeopardy, or great bodily harm was going to be inflicted upon him. However, while this may apply to Zimmerman, the homicide statutes of justifiable use of deadly force and excusable homicide are used in conjunction with those included in chapter 776. Furthermore, 776.041 states that the preceding sections of the chapter do not apply if the person “initially provokes the use of force against himself or herself” and then describes when that doesn’t apply: a) when death or great bodily harm is thought to be imminent, and all “reasonable means of escape” have been exhausted, or B) when the person who provoked the use of force withdraws from the altercation but the “assailant continues or resumes the use of force.”

    Now, it has been pointed out that Zimmerman has been charged with second degree murder, and it was suggested that talk of manslaughter charges were beside the point. However, that is not the case. Even if Zimmerman is found not guilty of second degree murder, he can still be convicted of what is called “lesser included offenses,” such as manslaughter.

    In the end, Zimmerman very well may defend himself against the prosecution’s attempt to prove that he did not act lawfully. I’ve read that the defense is going to defend Zimmerman on the grounds covered under 776.041, which makes sense. However, the main point I’m trying to make with this post is that the case is not as cut and dry as many have presented, and there are many avenues of approach for the State of Florida to come to the conclusion that there should even be a trial, and that they can convict him of a crime. In the court proceedings, the prosecution will have to try and prove their case; they will use testimony from Zimmerman, and they will try to exploit any holes they find with the facts. In light of the fact that someone was killed, doing nothing wrong—possibly up to the point of altercation—and the State of Florida thinks it has a case, I think a trial is the least thing we can ask for.

  7. Russ, when I mentioned other criminal activity it was for two reasons. One was that criminal activity voids the castle doctrine. But my second reason was erroneous. I was thinking about the phrase, "criminal negligence." I tried and failed to find this phrase in Florida manslaughter laws. I was only looking into manslaughter charges, so I have to assume I misremember the phrase from a discussion of some other, more severe murder charge. What I found pertains to this thread, but before I discuss it I'll apologize for letting my tone get in the way of the discussion. I do want to make it clear that I still think your position is unjust. Putting the law aside for a moment, we disagree on whether or not George Zimmerman should be punished. I still don't know what your reasons are for condemning Zimmerman, and this fact disturbs me. So I hope I can, at the very least, convince you that a manslaughter charge would be a hopeless waste of time from a legal standpoint.

    The phrase that is relevant to manslaughter is, "culpable negligence." This report about jury instruction has some useful information. Juries are to be instructed that culpable negligence is:

    [a course of conduct showing a gross careless disregard for the safety and welfare of another person or persons.]

    Following someone to find out who they are and what they doing (regardless of suspicions of criminality) is not an act that exhibits gross carelessness of the safety of others. It may be careless of one's own safety, but this isn't relevant. Zimmerman could be lying about his suspicions of Martin. But even so, no reasonable person can conclude that following a guy to ask him who he is and what he is doing would lead to his death. If you contend that Zimmerman did some other sort of grossly negligent thing or, worse, initiated a physical confrontation, you have to have evidence. That's not just good law, it's good thinking.

    As far as I know, the only evidence that Zimmerman did something wrong (and thus, might be guilty of a more serious crime) is:

    • A couple of witnesses who heard (not saw) "a boy" screaming.
    • Martin's girlfriend's uncorroborated and disputed statements about her phone call.
    • Martin's family's belief that the screaming voice on the 911 tapes belongs to Martin.

    Martin's family's testimony carries no more weight than Zimmerman's family's assertion that they hear Zimmerman's voice on the tapes. I remember hearing third hand that Martin's girlfriend's story changed, but I can't find anything to confirm that, and it's not of much importance anyway because uncorroborated accounts don't carry much weight. In fact, the statements aren't merely uncorroborated; they are in dispute by Zimmerman. And as far as I know, nobody mentioned a screaming boy while on the phone with the 911 operators, which leads me to believe that new statements were coached. The only witness(es) with line-of-sight to the altercation say it was Zimmerman who was on the bottom screaming for help. So, unless you have evidence the rest of us don't, you are not justified in condemning Zimmerman for a more serious crime.

    If the prosecution has a stronger case, they haven't given us any evidence of it. Of course, they aren't required to, but think for a moment what such evidence would look like. I think it would have to involve eyewitness testimony (better yet, a video recording), that has Zimmerman starting a physical altercation in which he inflicted no wounds on Martin. That is possible. Either way, widespread calls for Zimmerman's prosecution continue without a hint of such evidence, and that is shameful.

    Thanks for the PDF; it shed some light on the context of just exactly what is manslaughter in the state of Florida. In fact, I should have probably gone out and sought some source material for manslaughter before I started throwing around the charge, instead I was just relying on some general information I had. That said, however, I think you are misinterpreting the statute, or in the case of the PDF, the revisions of the statute.

    Where I believe your error occurs is in interpreting culpable manslaughter as being a necessary characteristic of an act of manslaughter. From my understanding of the statute, culpable manslaughter is not the necessary quality, but just one of three qualities that must be present for the charge to hold merit. For example, the statute states in defining manslaughter, "The killing of a human being by the act, procurement, or culpable negligence of another, without lawful justification according to the provisions of this chapter, is manslaughter... ." There are three possible means of committing manslaughter according to the statute, as presents in a list: by act, procurement, or culpable negligence. Additionally, on page four of the PDF, there is the same information in a bulleted format.

    As an addition to the report you provided, I went ahead and looked for further resources, which led me to a website containing the 2012 statutes. What is presented is similar to what has already been discussed, but now there is a reference to chapter 776 (justifiable use of force) and easy access to the whole homicide chapter, which includes justifiable use of force and excusable homicide.

    With all of these new resources, I'm going to take a few days and read and mull over as much as I can, and then try to figure out if I'm wrong about a manslaughter charge for Zimmerman. I will say, however, in reading the statute on excusable homicide (782.03), which feeds into manslaughter, the statute provides some insight into my position, in that I don't think Zimmerman used "usual oridinary caution."

  8. Is it possible for altruism to be forced, or is "forced altruism" contradictory?

    Altruism is a form of self-sacrifice. If someone is forcing you to give up your life or property for someone else (example: government-enforced social programs), you are being sacrificed but it's not a self-sacrifice since you have no control over the matter. Must altruism be a conscious decision to live one's life for another? Is it correct to describe the society in a welfare state as an "altruistic" society if the welfare system is based on forced sacrifice?

    Altruism, if it is the dominant theory of ethics in a society, generally leads to individuals being sacrificed by and to that society. A main principle behind the welfare state is that an individual has no right to exist for his own sake, and he must sacrifice himself to others; so there is nothing wrong with identifying a society that installs a welfare state as an altruistic society. In fact, this is stated in many of Ayn Rand's works, and those of other Objectivist intellectuals.

  9. Russ, your selection of the tape involves a serious omission of proper context. In response to dispatch saying, "We don't need you to do that," Zimmerman says, "OK." It is interesting to note that the sound quality that could be identified as rushing air noticeably changes at the same time Zimmerman says, "OK." This could be taken as an indication that Zimmerman immediately stopped his pursuit.

    In many people's minds, having a suspicious prowler around creates an emergency. But for the sake of argument I'll grant you a small concession; maybe emergency is a more severe variety of a common concept. At the very least, a prowler represents a threat. The proper response to a threat is to identify it and, when possible, take action that will eliminate it. Previous action of the type you prescribe was taken by Zimmerman countless times, to no meaningful effect. That you would have had Zimmerman sit on his hands and call the cops so they could drive over while a likely thief gets away is disappointing. But maybe I don't understand how it is you think Zimmerman acted immorally. In part, it sounds like you condemn him for risking his own safety without proper preparation. If that's the case, I'll counter that his firearm prepared him. I think this whole controversy is proof of that.

    More serious is your condemnation of him for manslaughter.

    I'll put aside the fact that you omit the time between Zimmerman's pursuit and the altercation and, by extension, mischaracterize the entire encounter. A pursuit is not a crime. I'll repeat myself, because manslaughter is a crime that is precipitated by or committed in concert with other criminal activity. A pursuit is not a crime, and so it is not evidence of manslaughter. You would have police prosecute Zimmerman on the assumption that he was criminally liable for a conflict in which he had all of the defensive wounds (save one), none of the offensive wounds, and fired only a single shot. Sure, it's possible that Zimmerman engaged in criminal activity and began the altercation. But the burden of proof for such an accusation is too high a bar to meet in this case. Prosecuting him is, at the very least, an absurd waste of time and money. But you go a step further with your statement that I quoted in bold. You don't just want to give the prosecution a chance to convince a jury that Zimmerman is guilty; you want Zimmerman to prove that he is innocent. You are saying, in effect, that Zimmerman is to be held culpable for our lack of knowledge. That's reckless and unjust.

    That is a good point; it does sound like either he slowed down or stopped his pursuit. I only brought up the dispatch primarily to show, as fact, that Zimmerman was pursuing Martin. Indeed, it is not proven that Zimmerman continued with his pursuit after the dispatch warned him; it is a stretch for me to say that he neglected the warning, no matter my opinion on the probability of what Zimmerman might have done. However, I will not take Zimmerman's, "Okay" statement as an indication that he stopped his pursuit, but since that cannot be proven or disproven, that doesn't matter much.

    On whether or not this was an emergency situation, maybe I misunderstood you. I took your statement as if you were invoking the ethics of emergencies, which I maintain does not apply to this case. If you were not talking about that, then we simply misunderstood each other. But, yes, I do agree that a prowler does present a threat, and there is nothing wrong with identifying a threat and acting to eliminate it. However, I don't see how you can suggest that Martin can be identified as a prowler. As far as I know, Martin was doing nothing wrong, had every right to be in that neighborhood--as well as anyone else, but his father actually lived near there--and he was on his way back to his father's place; it's not as if Martin was found somewhere he shouldn't have been. If that isn't the case, then what I know is deficient, and I'd like to know more.

    Before I continue on with the subject of manslaughter, I'd first like to address your tone, towards me. The tone of a few of your statements is fairly condemning of me, and I don't think I've said anything in my prior posts for it to be warranted. The case at hand, however, has been publically divisive, particularly due to how much of the media has handled it; so I can understand how you may have accidentally mischaracterized me. That said, from what I know about manslaughter, which isn't a whole lot--I'm not a lawyer--your definition of it as only applicable "in concert with other criminal activity," is wrong. There is voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, and I don't think any of those cases must fit your description, and I'm even more certain that the latter case does not. Therefore, the burden of proof isn't as high as you are making out.

    Additionally, I'm not saying that "Zimmerman is to be held culpable for our lack of knowledge." I expect the prosecution to lay down the facts to the jury, and those facts can lead to a guilty verdict of manslaughter--and I think the facts, as presented here, should lead to such a verdict.

    In closing, I'd like to point out that I don't think Zimmerman is some sort of monster. I actually sympathize with him, yet I think he committed a mistake that he should be punished for. Accidents, misunderstandings, mistakes, and the unexpected happen; however, that doesn't make anyone less responsible for an outcome into which they committed and set into motion.

  10. What does "neglect the dispatch" mean? And how is it a hard fact that he "pursued" him, rather than just followed him?

    Probably after noticing the rushing air in the cellphone mic, and the heavier breathing by Zimmerman the dispatch asks, "Are you following him?"

    Zimmerman: "Yeah."

    Dispatch: "Ok sir. We don't need you to do that."

    I'm not even going to entertain that last question.

  11. If all of the above is true (I think it probably is), then Martin Zimmerman was doing the right thing. He obviously didn't do the right thing in the best way, but few people do in emergency situations. He has every right to take personal responsibility for his neighborhood's safety - that is a noble conviction. To judge him as a John Wayne wannabe who was looking for trouble is unjust. I have a suspicion that Zimmerman would not have moved into fighting distance had he a choice, but rather followed from a safe distance until police arrived. I believe Martin snuck up to Zimmerman to start a fight, because he was pissed that Zimmerman was following him. I couldn't possibly say this with any certainty, of course.

    Police had the best position to decide with certainty, and they chose not to prosecute - that is, until the rioting began and this became a political shitstorm.

    Emergency situation? The only time this became an emergency situation is when Zimmerman put himself in a position to get injured in a fight with Martin. Zimmerman chose to neglect the dispatch and pursue Martin, and then he shot Martin after an altercation; those are the only facts that I care about as they are hard facts. Zimmerman can give any account he wants, and I also have no evidence that he is lying, but, for that matter, I have no evidence that he is telling the truth. It all begins and ends with Zimmerman, and I think that leaves him culpable to a manslaughter charge.

  12. I am a firm supporter of both castle and stand your ground laws, and was especially so when I lived in the state of Florida. However, from what I've seen in the media, quite a few months ago when all the coverage was non-stop, those laws do not apply to George Zimmerman. Zimmerman had every opportunity not to approach Treyvon Martin, and was even told not to pursue by police dispatch; he chose to do so at his own peril. If Trayvon was an adult, or an older man, Zimmerman would have probably gotten injured more than he did; or, if the person in Trayvon's position was an adult with a gun and proper license, he may have shot Zimmerman and probably could have used stand your ground as defense.

  13. Thanks for the replies, it's good to know that search engines, IP assigners, and domain name registrars would not be held liable for removing a website under the orders of the AG. However, I thought of something else that is not specified in SOPA. Shouldn't there be some sort of lower limit amount of damages before the AG can order the delisting of a specific website? In other words, the way it is written now, *any* violation of US IP law can lead to a delist order -- and if they were going to be that strict about it and then applied the same standards to domestic sites, then 95% of the internet would be erased, because violations of IP are rampant on the internet. I think to make the law more specific and objective, there would have to be a clause in it stating that this law applies to websites that cause a million dollars worth of damage to intellectual property owners. One might disagree with that specific amount -- maybe it should be $100k or even $10k -- but otherwise, they could do something like shutting down a foreign website that violates US IP law even in a minor way. You might think I am overreaching, but the law as written would give them that kind of power over the internet.

    I think that would be a good idea. With lower limits, everyone would be less at the whims of the AG.

    Recently, I've been doing research on the ACTA, which I guess the U.S. has already signed. I'm strapped for time right now, so I haven't read the agreement yet.

  14. Here's the thing, though, a search engine, IP assigner, or a domain name registrar would get the court order to delist a foreign website, but there are no explicit terms for the Attorney General having to demonstrate or to prove that said alleged foreign transgressor of American owned IP is actually involve in the theft of that IP. You would just get the order and would have to obey it or else; and the or else is not specified, which means they can do anything. While I agree that a foreign agent is not open to American due process, not being an American citizen, certainly domestic services are. So, Google would receive the court order and would have to take down, say, Pirate Bay, but the AG would not have to give much reason for the take-down notice -- unless such reasons are specified in the references to current IP laws. I definitely think this would lead to an abuse of power on the part of the AG, as he doesn't seem to be governed by any rules of presenting evidence; though he is held to the standard of having to post a bond to cover the potential take-down of a non-infringing site. So, I think the law would have to be made much more clear -- for example that Google and the other avenues of delisting websites would not be held legally liable for some sort of denial of service brought about by the actions of the AG.

    Current intellectual property laws, under US Code, are applied to the foreign infringing sites, which becomes the basis for the court order. I didn't read any of the various laws referenced by SOPA to be used for this purpose, and I don't plan to until it seems likely that congressional activity suggests that they will discuss the legislation again. Additionally, the bill does include text that deals with liability for domestic sites, and even says something about a site's obligation to service agreements with users. I didn't take notes on that topic, and I don't remember what exactly the bill said.

  15. Actually, you may be right, which makes SOPA different from the DMCA.

    Yes, things are done by court order under SOPA. It's been such a long time since I read the DMCA that I'm not going to talk about how it works--I read it a year or more after passage, before that point I was against the act. I think you are absolutely correct in your description of the immunity clause. I'd only add that the clause's primary intent is to remove liability for operatiors that police their sites. For example, YouTube, because of the way it conducts its operations, would never be held liable according to SOPA.

  16. How SOPA concerns search engines, when it comes to the listing of foreign infringing sites, is a question that is much more difficult to deal with than questions concerning whether or not it is proper to stop advertisement revenue and money transfer services. In fact, I've thought about your analogies comparing search engines to newspapers and phone books, and I'm glad you made those points. However, I do disagree with your analysis that it would be wrong to punish a search engine for their involvement. It is wrong to say that search engines will be treated as "third party facilitators of online piracy"; they would only be identified as such until after they had received a court order telling them to de-list a site, and refused to do so--SOPA did not go this in-depth and discussed no penalties for refusing the order.

    The court order for de-listing and the prospective treatment of an entity as an accessory, for refusing the order, are far from immoral acts or perversions of justice. When it comes to adverts in a newspaper or listings in a phone book, they too could be held to the same standard. Of course, both newspapers and phone books are much more static than dynamic operations like search engines: a newspaper is published on some short time period, phone books longer. However, if law enforcement learns that an organization is conducting illegal activity, with the assistance of listing in a paper or phone book, the courts could step in. At this point, the service is not an accessory, but if it willingly knows it is providing services for illegal activity, and refuses the courts, they should rightly become an accessory.

    I too watched the Don Watkins interview today, after seeing a RT on twitter. I liked what he said and how he framed his answers and future solutions. He made it clear that there was a great overreaction to SOPA, based upon illegitimate concerns, and the people who fueled those concerns have been the same crowd that has been consistently against intellectual property; and his responses were framed in a manner that put the emphasis on intellectual property protection. Unfortunately, in the interview, both Terry Jones and Allen Barton expressed these illegitimate concerns, with Barton going especially overboard. The interview can be found at ARCTV: SOPA on the Ropes?

  17. As a further answer, I'm not sure how international crime syndicates are handled in the specifics. I know there are means of going after foreign criminals who have committed crimes against American citizens, but I'm not really sure how they operate. So, I think there are avenues other than war. In other words, I'm not sure if an association like Interpol could do the job or not. I'm certainly not concerned with the rights of the pirates, any more than I am concerned with the rights of the Somali pirates who take control of ships on the sea. In the case of those pirates, kill them and be done with it; as to foreign piracy of IP, we can't just kill them, but maybe we could target their website via government action and do a denial of service attack.

    I don't remember anything in the bill about dealing with crime organizations, and I don't think there is really any place for that in such a bill. All the laws referenced in the bill, to be applied to foreign infringing sites, are already on the books and U.S. citizens are already subject to them. The bill primarily focused on shutting down sites outside the purview of U.S. court actions, and, particularly, residing in countries that don't respect intellectual property.

    You are absolutely correct in that there are options other than war. There has been long standing respect for intellectual property between countries, particularly between the West, through treaties. The biotech and pharmaceutical industries are excellent examples of such treaties in action; without it, development would have been severely hampered. For example, the United States will respect the rights of UK giants GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca. Examples of international intellectual property protection treaties are provided by the Paris Convention and TRIPS agreement. Of course, there are countries that don't respect intellectual property, and that is where legislation like SOPA becomes a much needed and extremely useful option.

  18. The documentary wasn't excellent, but it was good. I didn't take any notes, so I'm not going to mention many names here. Characteristics that I didn't enjoy include most of the narration of actual quotes from the novel, done in either a scary or exalted voice; the chaotic, fast pace of the beginning half; and the ending, which was abrupt. I understand that both the narration of the novel and the pace were most likely vehicles used to try and deliver a sense of urgency about the current state of affairs; however, I think this aspect of the documentary was over done. The ending left nearly everyone wondering, "was that the end," until the credits had completed rolling. I was unfortunate enough to have sat in the middle of an isle, having to wait a good minute or two--until a long pause for a URL advertisement and the credits ended--before people started to rise. Granted, there was repetition of a statement made early on, which is used a lot to signal conclusion, but it just didn't work out too well in this case.

    There were, however, many great interview scenes and topics that make the documentary enjoyable to watch and informative. The part that I enjoyed most was the discussion of the criticism that Atlas Shrugged received and how Rand dealt with it. The negative reviews of Atlas Shrugged and how it affected Rand is not new to me, having read about it a few times before, but the topic is better presented in the documentary than in any other source I know of. Additionally, the inclusion of Anne C. Heller and Jennifer Burns was great, both of whom provided a great deal of the information presented, with nice enthusiasm. Also, on the topic of enthusiasm, Al Ruddy's segments were fantastic.

  19. Thomas:

    Court orders are the instrument that would have been used to prompt domestic web services (search, advertisement, and financial) to stop doing business with the foreign internet site, primarily through de-listing. Google would have to filter their results, advertisers would have to de-list sites and would be prevented from providing monetary rewards, and transactional services would be told to stop assisting the site and its patrons. All of these options would provide great resources in dealing with the foreign infringing sites.

    One problem, however, which you refer to, is that no penalty had yet been introduced for domestic sites that refused to comply with the court order. Adam Mossoff and one of the articles he listed in his facebook note discussed this problem, one which seems like a strange omission; but then again, the bill was still being worked on. Once the atmosphere clears out a little, with election day having passed, congress can go back to the drawing board--hopefully not completely--and discuss what form of punishment would be appropriate to domestic operators.

    I also came to the discussion late. I had heard about SOPA months ago while on the phone with someone, but I didn't even know what the person was talking about. Then came a wave of discussion on a few Objectivist sites, Wikipedia's actions, and my twitter and facebook getting blown up to make me want to become much more informed. With so many people advocating for something in the same terms, plus the idea that the masses on the internet tend to easily get behind a cause, I became suspicious real quick. At that point, I located the bill online and read it, which prompted me to post a few comments here and elsewhere.

    Maybe the drama of the Black-out day would have been vastly different had those that want to protect intellectual property been educated about the legislation. I recently read an article, I think it was in NY Mag, where the writer was advocating for intellectual property protection, and he blamed the entertainment industry for what eventually turned into the fiasco surrounding SOPA. Essentially, he said that had the entertainment industry not been so quick with pushing the bill toward approval, and actually put some time and effort into informing the public, the situation wouldn't have gotten so out of hand.

  20. More spelling mistakes in the above...anyone have any idea why the Firefox spell-checker does not work on oo.net entries / text inputs? It works for everything else I can put text into, but not here for some reason.

    I was wondering that the other day, but it had been a long time since I posted here, so I couldn't remember if there was ever spell checking or not. I tend to agree with everything you have said recently about the bill, and I too am glad that it wasn't passed as originally written. However, I am disappointed that the bill has been shelved, and saddened that congressmen ran with their tails tucked between their legs, most likely due to public outrage rather than anything of substance. There needs to be debate and new laws to protect intellectual property, and the sooner such law is passed the better it will be for IP holders.

    Concerning Adam Mossoff's warning to Objectivsts, I think he meant more than what you summarized. An important point that I believe he was trying to make was that the advocates against SOPA are by and large anti-IP in general, and to take their assumptions on face value is wrong. For example, the EFF has never been on the right side of IP protection. Additionally, comparisons of SOPA to Chinese and Egyptian style internet censorship is patently wrong, overboard, and misleading. To equate SOPA with such censorship is to marginalize an extremely important issue of institutionalized censorship and rights violations, making a mockery of a serious issue. The warning went to remind Objectivists that we are for the protection of IP, while much of the anti-SOPA advocacy was spurred on by anti-IP crusaders, and to take analysis from such people will lead to some very misguided assumptions and statements.

  21. If foreign infringing sites because they are foreign are not entitled to due process then neither are they subject to any U.S. laws including copyright laws in the first place

    Whole domain shutdowns are not prohibited by the bill either. As I wrote it is a 'legal experiment' to enact this bill and then see what happens. It is also non-objective law.

    This is not mere 'self-policing', it is 'chilling effect'. This is because checking that every upload does not violate a copyright held by someone, somewhere requires near omniscience on the part of the website host. The current system under the DMCA where someone writes a complaint when they recognize a copyright violation exists is better because it distributes the burden of protecting rights to each person that has such a right.

    Due Process* is given by the fifth? and 14 amendments. Foreign operators do not get those protections of our constitution, of which they do not have any support, allegiance, or obligation. No site will be under the obligation to check "every upload," and the bill makes that fairly clear.

    **Due process is not limited to the context of which I speak in this instance. What you said above, for criminal law in the US, is crucial.

  22. "Feds shut down file-sharing giant over piracy violations" (Chicago Tribune, January 19, 2012):

    Finally, that parisite known as Kim 'Dotcom' has been brought to some sort of justice. This is an example of the US Codes of SOPA put into practice for the properties in country. I really can't say much more about this. To me it is straight forward: protect IP. Notice, however, that the Kiwis were heavily inovled here, just like how we engage the rest of the civilzed world in IP protection. SOPA needed more work, yet it shouldn't have been thrown out on face vailue, especially since it is such a short bill to read. To me, what happened two days ago was nothing but populist bullshit.

    edit: my point is like i've said: there are already US laws regarding what's in this country's jurisdiction. The actions against 'Dotcom' go to prove that SOPA had nothing to do with what anti-SOPA advocates were saying.

  23. Iterestingly Michael Bennet, D-CO, has shown himself to be a dishonest politician. He doesn't stay bought. (He shows up in both lists and apparently made 2.3 million bucks off this controversy.

    Actually I would want to know how on earth they determined that these monies were tied to SOPA... those seem like enormous bribes for just one piece of legislation. (Clearly I got into the wrong racket. /sarcasm :angry: ) Furthermore, given that blatant bribery is illegal, how can one prove that that money was paid solely for that vote?

    Edit: removed part of quotation that was not germane.

    That's a good question. However, if you go to the opencongress link at the top of webpage referenced, you will see how the contributions were identified as being funds in support of SOPA. Of course, organizing campaign contributions in such a manner is misleading, especially when phrased as "money to support SOPA."

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