Saturday, October 30, 2010

Exercising Freedoms

Not to be confused with "Exorcising Freedoms." Sorry, it is Halloween time, so a slight reference was necessary. (No matter how bad the pun.)

Two things combined to bring you, my faithful readers, this post. First, I had the pleasure of attending a symposium on the First Amendment right to freedom of speech last weekend at the University of Virginia Law School. The symposium featured some of the great legal minds, such as Dean Post of Yale Law School, Fred Schauer of UVA Law, Vincent Blasi from Columbia Law, and Eugene Volokh of UCLA Law. The highlight of the day was the keynote speech delivered by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the 9th Circuit.

Judge Kozinski revealed to the crowd of students and professors a little secret about the freedom of speech. In the internet age, he believes, speech protects itself. He spoke about the viral nature of information on the internet, how attempts to enforce copyrights and remove web content that infringes on individual privacy sparks a backlash in the throngs of largely anonymous readers leading to the wider dissemination of information than the original act of passively allowing websites to host the content ever would have.

Obviously, Kozinski still believes in the validity of constitutional protections afforded by the First Amendment, but his point is that constitutional restrictions on the written word hosted on the nebulous world wide web of computers are fruitless.

In a(n unintentional) corollary to that speech, Hack a Day just posted an interesting hacker backlash to courts attempts at regulating internet peer to peer file sharing.
Hard wired file share ports. This is the sort of thing that Kozinski meant about the self protecting nature of the modern methods of "speech."

1 comment:

  1. It appears the self-protecting nature of free speech has its limits, though - the Chinese government seems to have managed to make free speech pretty difficult even online. Although it might have been different if China had a long history of allowing free speech and it had been suddenly curtailed.