Where to Buy Free Culture?

I was able to obtain a copy of Lawrence Lessig’s new book this weekend in Amsterdam. I had thought of all sorts of schemes to see how quickly I could get a copy of the book from the states, assuming I wouldn’t find it in the typical Dutch book shops (which almost never have non-fiction books in the English language). I finally found the book in an American book store in Amsterdam – though I nearly left without seeing the book and only spotted it out of the corner of my eye from across the room as I was descending the stairs in disappointment (it wasn’t next to the other two of Lessig’s books).
Interestingly, the book store also featured a section of “American food” for homesick ex-pats. A good portion of the selection was Dunkin Hines cake mixes. I didn’t realize that was what I’m supposed to be missing here in the Netherlands. I miss burritos.
I was surprised that Lessig didn’t release the book online under a Creative Commons license (the copyright notice in the book explicitly reserves all rights). In fact, I was confused. He did release a Creative Commons version in pdf, and other formats would follow.
I don’t know if it’s good or bad that I’m actually reading (and caring about) the copyright notices in books now. I just finished A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and I have to admit that I was greatly entertained by Dave Eggers’ version of fine print (click “next page” to see the copyright notice).

Delta Project

I spent yesterday afternoon checking out the Delta Project in the Zeeland province of the Netherlands. A large portion Zeeland (as in “sea land”) lies below sea level and is thus susceptible to flooding. In the 1950s, a large storm flooded much of the area and killed nearly 2000 people. In response, the Dutch undertook a huge project to build new dams to protect the area. The gem of the project is a massive sea barrier that does not normally interfere with the sea (and sea life) but that can be closed in the rare case of dangerously high water.
Here’s a picture of a portion of the barrier:
Netherlands delta project

New tortfeasor Shirt Design

competitive justice shirt Things have been somewhat quiet around tortfeasor lately. Behind the serenity, I’ve been working hard to bring you a brand new t-shirt design. I wanted to make a shirt that was a little more subtle than a giant “tortfeasor” across one’s chest, and I came up with the idea to make a parody of a sports logo. This, of course, has been done before – I’ve seen everything from skateboards to PlayStation controllers with the blue and red background. I thought there was something especially amusing about lawyering as a sport though. Lawyers are known for working hard, but the type of work doesn’t usually lead one to sweat and loss of breath.
The new shirt is available as of today. I’m happy to say that, despite the high quality manufacturing (screen printed – none of this CafePress iron on stuff) and colorful design, I’m still able to offer shirts for a reasonable price.
Thanks to Orville Esoy for helping with the design.

TypeKey and Identity

Six Apart, the makers of the wonderful Moveable Type software that powers this site, has been working on a solution to the recent comment spam epidemic. Currently there are lots of evil-doers posting irrelevant comments to sites like this in the hope of raising their rank in search engines like Google. This is indeed a problem (first hand knowledge) and I would bet that the spammers are quite successful. They are getting lots of free links that no doubt affect search engine placement (more background).
One solution to the problem was to create a blacklist of spammers and prevent them from posting comments. (software here) This works fairly well, but the list requires constant updating. The new Six Apart software, TypeKey, does the opposite. It creates a centralized identity database and lets site owners choose who to allow to comment. This enables people to create a positive identity (who you are) instead of employing the blacklist negative identity method (anyone who isn’t on the blacklist can post – including those that just happen to have changed their identity since the last blacklist release).
I think it’s generally a good idea, but I’m skeptical of a centralized identity database run by a for-profit company (even someone nice like Six Apart). I took an exam yesterday on international institutions and there was a question about the UN disapproving the credentials of delegates from a fictitious country. The initial idea was to confirm the identity of national representatives, but the credential approval process has also been used to deny representation in the UN for political reasons. It’s not that Six Apart will be controlling the content of their database, and it’s the site owners that will control individual representation, so it’s unlikely that that type of problem will arise. Still, it’s interesting to see how the identity confirmation issue can play out in two completely different mediums.

The BeerTender

BeerTenderCheck out the “BeerTender” that’s being heavily marketed here in the Netherlands (and is apparently available in Switzerland (in English) as well). It’s a little keg-like dispensing machine that apparently keeps the beer cold and fresh. It’s the kegarator for people with “sophisticated demands“. The Dutch version is sold by Krups, which almost gives the impression that it does something besides dispense beer.
As far as I can tell, only special Heineken mini-keg-things are compatible. This means you better like Heineken if you’re going to drop the € 249 for one of these things. Perhaps the buyer can find variety in the way the beer is poured.

Leiden in the Spring

Today was clearly the unofficial start of the spring season here in Leiden. Bar owners started setting up their outdoor seating and I even saw some kids taking a boat out on the canal. It was all due to the bright sun and warm (but not too warm) air.
Meanwhile, I got an email from BU informing me of a special number I could call to find out about snow cancellations and delays. It seems they’re having a bit of a storm back home.
Here’s the scene today outside a local bar in late afternoon:
leiden bar in the spring

De Novo Launches

De Novo, a group blog of four law students launched yesterday. They’re going to feature… well… features (which they refer to as “symposia”) on various law topics – beginning with legal education.

Dance Music Guide

Ishkur’s guide to electronic music is a gem of a site. (via naj) Many musicians hate to be defined, but dance music producers know full well that the track their working on is Gabber or Goa or what have you. I’ve even given little “lessons” to friends by digging through my records, but most non-enthusiasts tell me they can’t tell the difference between various styles anyway.
I actually wrote in to mp3.com to suggest an “Atmospheric Drum & Bass” category back in the day – and they actually created it (though they called it “Ambient Drum & Bass”). You’ll once again be able to listen to my tracks as soon as CNET gets their act together. Maybe they’ll even name the category correctly.
Ishkur even has a couple famous breaks listed in his guide. Here’s a great article on some of the most famous breaks ever (with samples of course). I’m a little suspicious of any site that lists babes, booze, and cars in it’s navigation menu, but the article is worth it. (and it’s not just “for men” despite the slogan of the site – and it’s not “just for men” either – that’s a hair product of course)
If you want to do something of a reverse lookup of samples, try the Cover Songs Database. There used to be a site called Sample Spotter that was off to a good start, but now it’s just a bunch of sponsored links.

First Exam Abroad

I had my first “foreign” law school exam today for my course in Law of the European Communities. It was surprisingly like a law school exam back in the states: Does A have an action? Does X court have jurisdiction? Etc.
The one big difference was that there was a lot of time to write very few words. We were given over an hour for each question – and we were requested to keep our answers to one page. Let’s hope it went okay; about 10% of the test takers were not my class, the were re-taking the exam from last year…