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December 21, 2005

Geek Media Meets Law Reviews

I'm glad to see that Jordan Hatcher's article Of Otaku and Fansubs: A Critical Look at Anime Online in Light of Current Issues in Copyright Law is getting some attention. (Hat tip to Prof. Solum.) It's precisely the thing I like to see in articles by students: someone writing about an issue that raises a narrow legal issue on a topic the author is obviously passionate about. Fansubs (Japanese animation translated and subtitled by fans) cast a different light on some of the central battles in the copyright wars. I strongly recommend this article to anyone considering the ramifications of the current RIAA or MPAA lawsuits. For instance:

Does our present level of copyright foster the cultural goods we'd like to see? As Geoffery Manne put it, the ultimate question with copyright law is Do we have the optimal amount of Bainbridge? The standard (Bainbridge) answer is to say that if we don't have strong copyright protections, we'll suffer a shortage of production. But the history of fansub anime belies this contention. If it weren't for fansubbing, the anime community in the U.S. is unlikely to be anywhere near what it is today. In its early days, fansubs were what allows a customer base to grow beyond a narrow range of people who could speak Japanese. Violation of the law allowed the market to form, and now Disney spends millions to get the rights to Miyazaki. It is possible that if we had weaker copyright protections, we'd have just as much creativity, but it would be different. As always with economics, the tricky issue is finding the elephant that isn't in the room: certainly our copyright law provides us with quite a lot of bland romantic comedies and ticky-tacky sitcoms. With a weaker and modified copyright law, do we really think all television would become Manhattan Neighborhood Network?

Does copyright law as it stands promote quality and access?: As far as quality goes, I've said before that fansubs are often better translations than their commercial counterparts. This isn't surprising, really, as they're translated by people who love the original and want to share the experience they had when they first saw the work. It's hard to say that if we didn't allow translation rights to movies or videos, we'd have poorer translations.

What about access? Anyone who's ever watched TV in England and the United States knows that copyright law respects corporate priorities over user utility. All the DVDs I purchased in the UK? They're virtually useless, not because of differing technical standards (as would be the case with VHS tapes), but because they're "region-locked." Who cares if I already paid my money, I can't use the discs. And of course, some people use Bittorrent to download TV shows simply because copyright negotiations have prevented the show they want to watch from being shown (or even purchasable) in their country of origin. (See, e.g. or until recently Lost.) What good is copyright law if pursuit of profits means that intellectual goods remain completely unavailable?

In any event, anime may be a geek media phenomenon, but the legal implications are not. The article is well worth a read.

October 19, 2005

Pot, Meet Kettle? or A Challenge to Those With Perfect Comma Skills

After National Review posted a PDFof Miers' response to Senate Judiciary questions, Professors Bainbridge, Fleischer, Hurt and Lindgren let fire with all barrels at the quality of the writing, taking particular glee in the (mis)use of commas. Given that most law students spend a good part of at least one year bent over drafts of law review articles submitted in 'final' form, I'm sure I'm not the only law student who saw the irony in this particular barrage of criticism.

Me, I say let he who is without sin cast the first stone here. Certainly no one submits a law review article with the expectation that it will be used to judge their fitness for the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, law review articles are still professional writing, and they are usually written in conditions distinctly more conducive to error-free drafting. For instance, very few essays (not to say articles) are written in around a week's worth of time, they are generally on a topic of the author's choosing, and they often benefit from the dedicated ditch-digging of a research assistant.

Here's a challenge to those profs (or anyone else, for that matter) who wish to judge such work: tomorrow, post a draft of the last law review article you sent off for publication, preferably before a research assistant went through it. Post it against a blueline of the next two rounds of commentary received from the staff editors and highlight the grammar and spelling errors. Or even better, hand the draft over to someone with an incentive to show the same generousity of spirit--say, someone to whom you gave a bad mark on an exam--and let them publish a piece on your blog highlighting all the errors of grammar, spelling or citation.

I wouldn't relish doing that, but I went through enough blue pencils last year to suspect that very few people, even distinguished academics, would take that challenge.

Bluebook Followup: Do As We Say, Not As We Do

Some time ago I criticized the Bluebook's rules on citing blogs, particularly because full URLS to blog posts are not supposed to be used.

Today the blawgosphere is abuzz with the launch of the Pocket Part, the quasi-blog of the Yale Law Journal. It's really quite a nice site, both in content and in style. But how does Yale suggest that one should cite to the Pocket Part?

Preferred Citation: Abraham Bell & Gideon Parchomovsky, Of Property and Federalism, Yale L.J., Oct. 2005 (The Pocket Part), http://www.thepocketpart.org/2005/10/bell_parchomovsky.html.
Nice to see one of the Gang of Four deciding that the rules on blog citation don't make sense.

UPDATE: Amazing. I never thought I had this many readers, but this post wasn't up for fifteen minutes before I received an email arguing that the bluebooking for the Pocket Part should be different because it isn't a "blog."

I suppose one can wonder about blogginess in the way that one can wonder about angels dancing on the head of a pin. Is it a matter of having consistent authors? Frequent postings? The ability to comment? I won't venture into that terrain, except to point out that as a technical matter, the Pocket Part's source code suggests at least a kissing-cousin relationship to blogdom:

meta name="generator" content="Movable Type 3.2"

July 27, 2005

Magnificently Obtuse

I don't have a copy of the 18th Edition of the Bluebook over here, but if PG's quotation at De Novo is correct, the new rules for citing blogs seem spectacularly daft. At least according to that quotation--I can't find an online source at the moment--the correct citation for this blog entry would be:

Three Years of Hell, http://www.threeyearsofhell.com/ (July 28, 2005, 20:40 EST).

There must be a justification for this format that I just don't see. How useful is the time and date stamp if you actually want to visit the blog entry? Why not use the simple expedient of the permanent URL?

And what's that EST doing there? On my blog, that's only really identifiable if you look at the source code for an individual entry, or maybe in the RSS feed. (Where, of course, it's not in EST format, but as GMT - 05:00.) I have no idea how you'd figure that out on a standard-issue Livejournal or Blogspot site. You could just try to figure out where the blogger lives, but what about bloggers who modify their timestamp when they're in a different country?

It's as if there was a conscious attempt to make the citation format as unhelpful as possible for an actual practitioner to find, as difficult as possible for a member of staff to check [1], and as unlikely as possible for an article author to comply with the standard. I suppose one should just sigh in resignation when the Bluebook insists on citing to a paper source no one uses in favor of electronic sources freely available and more commonly referenced, but when there is only an electronic source, would it be too much to ask that the Book try to match itself to electronic reality?[2]

UPDATE: A reader asks what my preferred citation format would be. I'd probably respect the fact that blog posts generally have titles, their authors might like to see their name in print (especially academic authors who otherwise wouldn't be picked up in a citation check), and all information to be collected should be available on the webpage. So something like Author (if available and not a pseudonym), Title (if any), on Site Name, URL (to source if available, to root otherwise), (date, no time unless necessary). So this post would read:

Anthony Rickey, Magnificently Obtuse, on Three Years of Hell to Become the Devil, http://www.threeyearsofhell.com/archive/003609.php (Jan. 27, 2005).


There may be some problems with that--I'm by no means an expert in the Bluebook, so it may conflict with another citation format--but it accomplishes everything the "proper" citation does, while giving better information to the reader and avoiding unnecessary staff time.

[1]: Here, again, that EST requirement befuddles me. If the information required by a citation is only commonly available for those who know how to read the right bit of a blog's source code--and that only if it's run on MT--who is going to train the staff to do this?

[2]: True, there are blogs that don't feature permalinks for their entries, but they're certainly not standard, whereas I can't think of a single set of blogging software that makes timezone stamps an out-of-the-box feature. Certainly a rule stating "use permalinks when possible, and if necessary identify the post by date and time; otherwise, use only the date" would be more sensible.

June 18, 2005

MT 3.0, Spam, and Orin Kerr

So, here I am on MT 3.0. I know my site works, and while there's still a few issues with Chris's blog to iron out, but for the most part it's a pleasant improvement. And there's much less spam.

Speaking of which, Prof. Kerr, normally such a technologically with it fellow, seems to have low expectations for law reviews:

While I'm at it, kudos to the editors of the Yale Law Journal for their smart and helpful way of publicizing their latest issue. I knew that the Grimmelmann note was published and online because I signed up for the YLJ's online mailing list. The list sends out an e-mail whenever a new Journal issue is published; the e-mail contains abstracts of each piece in the issue together with links to .pdf copies posted on the Journal's website. It provides a very easy and convenient way for readers to follow, read, and even blog about new scholarship. I hope other law reviews follow the YLJ's lead.

Why stop there, though? Indeed, why even start down the road of targeted mass emails, which is but a thin veil away from spam? If I'm going to be getting law review advertising, I don't want it to be like the spam I get from every web store at which I've made a purchase. Why would I ever read through thirty emails from different law reviews to scan what they're pushing at me?

Instead, wouldn't an enterprising law review start up an RSS feed? Indeed, if that became common, we could just make an aggregation page that announced the newest publications. And better yet, by having a standard form in which articles--or at least links to them--could persist, we could start down the road of having sensible, digital-age citations and move away from the paper-obsessed format of the Bluebook.

May 22, 2005

Update on Law Review Software

Some time back, I mentioned the Public Knowledge Project's Open Journal Systems, an open-source project for creating peer-reviewed journals. They've now updated the software, and version 2.0 is looking ready for prime time. I've implemented a test site that I'm jokingly naming the Journal of Law and Social Parody, and in only about half an hour I submitted, reviewed, and published some of my old blog posts as the first "issue."

They've improved the work process such that I can now see it being usable for low-volume law review work, such as a review that publishes only a few issues a year. (Because law review articles are relatively lengthy, a given project is often edited by a group. That process isn't well-suited to OJS, which only supports a single copy editor, proofreader, and layout editor.) On the other hand, the workflow process is now extremely modular, and I could see a journal using the software to produce its website, manage online submissions, and approve and decline submissions without using the online editorial processes.

The best bit? The software now supports multiple journals. In other words, an enterprising law school could put the software on their servers and allow any journal that doesn't already have some sort of online management system to be up and running relatively swiftly.

It's cool stuff. If you're currently working on a journal that might be interested in using the software and would like to kick the tires, go to my test site and sign up as a reader or author, then send me an email, and I'll make you an honorary "editor" of the Journal of Law and Social Parody.

UPDATE: Welcome to Volokh Conspiracy readers. Wouldn't you know it, my computer breaks down so I don't notice a Kerr Package arriving until the next week...

April 21, 2005

The Lonely, Homeless Left Finally Has A Place At Harvard

Via Prof. Yin, I see that a new online journal has started at Harvard: Unbound: The Harvard Journal of the Legal Left. Seeing that reminds me of the old joke about magazines like Maxim: when they publish "The Sex Issue" every year, what exactly do they think the other eleven issues are? But apparently conservative barbarians aren't just at the gates at Harvard, they've stormed the faculty houses and are busy breaking the china, fouling the (very progressive) hand-woven carpets, and putting little barbarian horned-helmets on the Dean's dog:

Like many on the legal left, we feel a bit homeless. Others have built substantial "progressive" organizations and law reviews that support, channel, and house their political and intellectual endeavors. While we often sympathize with and participate in activist projects that advance economic redistribution, human rights, and racial, gender and sexual equality, we are unsatisfied with the constraining language of liberalism within which such projects tend to operate. We'd like something spicier and more satisfying, a place where we can refine our ideas without having to justify our existence to unsympathetic critics.

In today's legal world, conservatives have convinced many that legal decisions must be made on the basis of "original understanding" or "economic efficiency," terms which are not facially invalid but which often mask more nefarious goals.


Yes, the nefarious goals of the members of the Vast Right Wing Legal Conspiracy. You can identify us easily by the Snidely Whiplash moustaches that we like to twirl menacingly.

But of course, I didn't go check out Unbound for the political discourse. My interest was in discovering the technology they use to generate their content, given my recent interest in content management systems for journals. Sadly, my brief search of the code didn't find anything that let me identify their system, and for all I know it's hand-coded. On the other hand, the code does hold one surprising metatag:

META NAME="AUTHOR" CONTENT="ShitBegone Paper"

Indeed. On the meta-level Unbound does seem to be creating a whole new style of discourse.

Update: Hmm. Or perhaps the journal just believes in truth in advertising. One of the graphic designers of Unbound is Jedediah Smith Ela, who is also behind the 'long term art project' known as ShitBeGone toilet paper. That explains that, then.

April 20, 2005

Law Review Symposium

I'd be remiss if I didn't note the symposium on Law Reviews going on at De Novo.

April 12, 2005

Playing With Open Source Toys

As I mentioned before, I've been playing around with Open Journal System from the Public Knowledge Project of the University of British Columbia. Like most open source products, you have to consider it a kind of "working beta" software, but for the most part it does everything one needs to run a journal.

It's half-tempting to set up a journal here at TYoH, with an editorial board digitally distributed throughout the blawgosphere. My initial thought is a parody review: The Review of Law and Social Parody. Either that, or a journal of student notes rejected by other law reviews.

Worth a thought, I suppose. I wonder what Wings and Vodka would think...

April 05, 2005

Technology and Law Reviews

Over at The Conglomerate a discussion is raging on the ethics of "expedited review." Since Prof. Smith has already explained it so well, I'll just quote him:

Here's how it works: the author submits her paper to tens of journals (say, 40-100) and awaits offers. When the first offer arrives, often from a journal ranked in the lowest quartile, the author contacts all or some of the journals ranked above the offering journal to request expedited review. The author explains that she has an offer outstanding from the ________ Law Review, but would be pleased to ditch them in favor of higher-ranked journal. The only catch is that the higher-ranked journal needs to respond before the offer explodes. In some instances, this might be a couple of weeks, but in other instances it may be as short as 24 hours.

Heidi (infinitely more qualified to talk about this, since I'm increasingly less thrilled with the entire "law review" method of legal scholarship) hasn't weighed in on this yet, but in my opinion the "expedite" process seems to be one more extension of the legal tendency towards heirarchy, another status game. On the one hand, authors have an incentive to move their offers up the ladder through the use of expedite requests; on the other hand, journals have an incentive to use "exploding offers" to discourage it. There's an amusing Reg State question here, but the whole thing seems to create a lot of extra work for everybody.

I've recently been looking at the peer-reviewed production process used by the rest of academia. Mostly I've been reviewing it because A. N. Other Law Review asked me to look into ways of allowing them to accept online submissions, and I came across the Open Journal Systems project of The University of British Columbia. It's a cool piece of kit: it will generate your entire journal online, handle the workflow process for peer-review, and send email notifications to everyone involved. Setup time was a bit over an hour for me, but would be about 15 minutes if you weren't trying to kick the tires too hard, and the software is wonderfully free.

What it won't do is cater for the idiosyncracies of the law review process: there's no feature to easily handle expedites, you'd have to set your staff members up as "reviewers," and many law reviews would have to shift their work processes a bit to use the software comfortably. (Then again, given what it allows and the low price, it may be worth looking into.) And the more that I look at how peer-reviewed journals handle these things, the more I wonder about the inefficiencies inherent in the standard law review editing process.

Of course, the software's open-source, so it wouldn't be difficult for a dedicated law review to tweak it out of its peer-reviewed simplicity. Better yet, the next version is planned to support multiple journals under one implementation: in other words, all of a law school's AnyLawSchool Journal of Law and Something Else could accept online submissions and publish online, assuming they were willing to work together and collectively pay for the hosting costs. (Actually, the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications has already modded a prior version of OSJ to not only run multiple journals, but allow subscription by credit card. I couldn't get its version to install properly within the hour I was willing to spend testing, but the problem is obvious and would take no time to solve.)

I have a sandbox version of the software up and running: if you're the sysadmin of a law review and would like to have a look, just email me and I'll give you a password, so long as my bandwidth holds up.

Right. Didn't I have some reading to do at some point?

February 04, 2005

Cool. Helpful. The United Nations

Remember when I told you that I'd give you a week full of counterintuitive Republican postings? Yeah, well, I'm running a bit late. (What else is new?) Nevertheless, here's one to add to the file: a Republican saying that the U.N. did something cool.

The CLS library director today mailed us some brief commentary about the Official Document System of the United Nations. In the last few days I've been doing some research on a back-and-forth between Japan and the U.N., and this tool is proving really quite helpful.

Way back in 2000, I had to do similar research with the EU's website. I won't link to it, because doubtlessly the EU has improved the site by now, but it really was a usability tragedy. This site is much nicer, even if it's got flaws.

Cool, UN! Really cool!

November 16, 2004

If Idle Hands Do The Devil's Work...

...my beatification must be just around the corner. It was a bit embarassing to have to constantly apologize to my guest this weekend: "I'll meet you once your back from the Empire State Building. Sorry, clinic work, programming, you know." "Yeah, I had to schedule my law review work for the weekend, sorry. Shall we go to a museum this afternoon?" I'm amazed we managed to see as much as we did.

Speaking of law reviews, I've been meaning to write something on the recent Posner piece in Legal Affairs. It's still not finished, unfortunately. In the meantime, you might want to look at this critique over at Reason and Liberty, who'd get a link on the blogroll if he didn't use RSS-less Blogger...

October 16, 2004

When you're up to your ass in alligators

I'm swamped. Somehow, I managed to get a preliminary memo for my note done at 4AM yesterday, only a minor 11 hours overdue. (On the other hand, it seems coherent and reasonably well-ordered, in that sentences have subjects and verbs and all: how much more can you expect?)

I promise I'll be back with something insightful once or twice over the weekend, but there's two days of law review work eating that up. (My fault: since my friends were here over the week, I didn't schedule much work on weekdays.) In the meantime, Venturpreneur has reminded me of nifty example of Flash used for good ends: They Rule. Use it to figure out who would make good candidates for the Illuminati, who you want on your board when you start Enron II, or just to play Friendster with rich people.

October 12, 2004

Noteworthy Disasters

I'm afraid that my prior note topic has turned up a bit of a dud, there's a major note milestone on Friday, and I'm a bit frantic trying to get everything together on time. You may not hear a lot from me until the weekend.

I know, I know, I'm letting my readers down. But everyone deserves a day or two off sooner or later, so in the meantime, let me direct you either to other blogs, or to two fine sources of entertainment:


Or, just gaze at the new Dell Axim X50 with new product lust.

September 27, 2004

Noteworthy [Ir]relevance [See Updates]

Just when I was beginning to worry about the relevance of my note topic, something much like it hits the news. [Please see the UPDATES below: it appears that Kos got some of his story wrong.]

According to various links from Kos, there's a potential scandal brewing over the outing of Alan Keyes daughter through her blog. I can't confirm a bit of this, but it seems that a young lady who may or may not be Maya Keyes kept a 'diary-style' site on Xanga, where she posted some rather personal stories which indicate she is a lesbian. According to Kos:

The evidence comes from Maya's very public blog (first discovered by Modern Vertebrate). Xanga apparently allows parts of the site to be "protected" from those not on a special list, but Xanga has poor technology, as some of that protected content can be easily found. For example, here's the post where she hides parts of her site.

(links removed) Now, please note again that I can't confirm any of this. Indeed, it does appear that sites like chillinois are linking to some of these entries by exploiting a very strange security flaw. (The August 21st entry appears on the link but not the main blog.) But at this time of night, I couldn't tell you one way or the other, or how they're doing it. (Yes, it appears to be passing a userid in the URL, but certainly Xanga's security ain't that bad, is it?) Whatever the case, I feel sorry for the blog owner, whoever she is: she's about to get a lot more attention than she bargained for.

But that's an aside: I'm not that interested in 'outing' anyone, and I'd not even mention this if it hadn't been on Kos. (The guy's huge. If he's 'broken' the story, it's out. My silence would have no effect.) I'm interested in the technological question.

You see, I'm looking into the relationship between 'unauthorized access' (as ther term and terms like it are used in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act) and its courtroom interpretation. I first grew interested after studying the case of Manuel Miranda and the Senate 'hacking' scandal, but wondered if another topical case would ever arrive. To me, this might be such a case (although Xanga might not be covered by the CFAA).

Assume that what Kos says is true: that the security was 'broken.' The question would become how it was broken. It could be by traditional 'hacking': a user figures out how to outsmart Xanga's security. Or it could be by finding a valid user ID and logon, say stealing one from the young lady's friends. Or one might make a Xanga account, email the young lady kindly, and ask her to become part of her 'friends' list. All of these would fall outside my legal problem.

But suppose that the user who first came across this did so knowing that these were supposed to be protected (there's an entry to that respect), but it just so happened that his account was given access it shouldn't have by Xanga's servers. He downloads the information, publishes it on his blog, and scandal ensues. Has he 'hacked' anything, or rather exceeded his 'authorized access?' Or is the operator of the server the one that should be civilly or criminally responsible?

Anyway, I'll have to watch this story, to see how the technical details pan out. Should be interesting.

Update: In case this ever gets back to the young lady in question--unlikely, but stranger things have happened--shoot me an email and I'll be happy to look into making the blog more secure. As I said, I hate that this kind of thing happens.

Update II: Taking a look at it in the cold light of day, it doesn't look like the entries were protected at all, at least from this side. So whilst it might be an interesting hypothetical situation, it's probably irrelevant to my research.

Update III: I spent a few minutes IMing the young lady whose ID is on the blog, and confirmed that there are some protected entries, and Xanga's protection seems to be working. It appears that what chillinois quoted is indeed set to 'public.' Please note that I did not ask for confirmation as to who the person on the other end of the AIM was: first of all, it's not the element in which I'm interested, and secondly, it wouldn't really go any length to determining if this is a hoax.

Update IV: For what it's worth, I just contacted the author of the blog in question and asked her permission to leave this post up. Which makes me feel a bit better about the whole thing, though not much. Most of her site is now being reset to "private." As this looks less and less like a hoax, the young lady has my sympathy: this is probably more attention than she bargained for.

September 24, 2004

The Trouble With Law Review When You're Short on Time

Whenever I'm short on time, my Law Review assignments are one of two things: either long and disasterous, or as today, too damn interesting not to read more about. All of a sudden a relatively easy assignment becomes a day-long task.

Cited in one of my tasks today was the (at least to me) compelling argument by Judge James M. Rosenbaum, who wants a 'cyber-statute of limitations' with regards to deleted material. The article, titled In Defense of the Delete Key, makes a final compelling point:

This suggestion recognizes that the computer is, itself, flawed. Its permanent memory is a flaw which undermines its value and endangers its users. Its inability to forget weakens and undermines the very ideas it permanently holds. The real flaw is that the computer lies: it lies when it says delete. This mechanical lie ought not to debase and degrade the humans who are, and ought to be, its master.

Worth reading. Hell, in general the Green Bag is usually worth the read.

September 09, 2004

One More Reason To Love the Bluebook

Julian Sanchez over at Reason (and no great friend of the Bush campaign) illustrates one more reason to believe that journalists should have standards of accuracy at least as high as lawyers, but certainly don't act like they do. Pointing to news reports of Dick Cheney's 'scandalous' remarks about Kerry and the war on terror, Mr. Sanchez rightly complains that the BBC and MSNBC misquoted Cheney. Specifically, they quoted this:

Its absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that well get hit again and well be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States.

Well, actually, that's what Joe Trippi is saying on MSNBC. The BBC just mangles the below into three or four different paragraphs, making it impossible to figure out Cheney's actual words. What he did say is:
We're now at that point where we're making that kind of decision for the next 30 or 40 years, and it's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice. Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again, that we'll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States, and that we'll fall back into the pre-9/11 mind set if you will, that in fact these terrorist attacks are just criminal acts, and that we're not really at war.

Now, it's worth noting that more (Sanchez) or less (Maureen Dowd) reasonable people may disagree on the meaning of the quotation. What you can't say is that it's fair to present your readers with no textual clues that you've doctored your subject's words.

Which is where Rule 5.3(b) of the Bluebook comes in, covering omissions to text in quotations. The idea is that by having a set of textual symbols to at least show how a text has been changed, a reader can be put on notice that you may be playing fast and loose with your speaker's words. For instance, if Mr. Trippi had been made to Bluebook his MSNBC article, the text would have looked something like this:

[I]ts absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2, we make the right choice[, b]ecause if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that well get hit again and well be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States. . . .

To be honest, I'm not even sure that's in proper Bluebook format: I've never seen a quotation altered quite so violently in a law review before. But even if I've made small mistakes, the important point remains. It's immediately obvious to the reader from the above that the quotation (a) doesn't begin at the same point as the original; (b) is a combination of two sentences; and (c) doesn't end at the same place either.

Good authors avoid quotations like that, simply because alert readers will immediately question why the author felt such a need to edit his subject's speech. Mr. Trippi completely misrepresents the Vice-President's words, and then wonders how a campaign staffer will explain them away. One more reason that after a news article piques my interest, I'll check the blogs of law professors or lawyers to see what they think. After all, these old Bluebooking habits--ones journalists don't seem to care about--die awfully hard.

Update: First, welcome Instapundit readers. Also, I fixed some links above.

Second, one of my commentors has linked to this Washington Post story that indicates the text on the "official White House transcript" might have been changed:

In a change that highlighted the sensitivity of Cheney's statement, the White House yesterday released a revised version of the transcript of his remarks. The official transcript, posted on the White House Web site Tuesday afternoon and e-mailed to reporters, said: "(I)t's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, we make the right choice. Because if we make the wrong choice, then the danger is that we'll get hit again."

In a version released Tuesday to reporters traveling with Cheney, however, the period at the end of "hit again" was removed and replaced with a comma, which linked his blunter statement to his standard stump language expressing concern that future attacks would be treated as "just criminal acts, and that we're not really at war."

Yesterday, the transcript on the White House Web site was altered to make Cheney's remarks one sentence. Cheney's White House spokesman, Kevin Kellems, issued a statement saying that the first official transcript "contained a typographical error" and was an "interim draft." "These types of corrections are not uncommon in the transcription of verbal statements," Kellems said. "The final transcript accurately reflects the statement as delivered, which is clear when watching video of the event."


There's a few interesting things to note about this. First, the MSNBC comment becomes even more divergent from the source text if compared with the 'original' version in the Washington Post. Secondly, note that the Washington Post story actually has two different versions of the quote in the same story. In the sixth paragraph of their article, they quote Cheney as follows:
Cheney, in Des Moines on Tuesday, delivered the campaign's message that the United States would be safer in Bush's hands with cutting-torch directness, saying, "It's absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on November 2nd, that we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we'll get hit again."

So we're now left with a couple of questions. Is the Post reporting on what they claim Bush said? They can't be citing either version of the transcript, because their quotation agrees with neither.

In the law review world, this is solved via citations, something the media is loathe to do. If I wanted to Bluebook any of the sources above, I'd do more than give the link: recognizing the fluid nature of the internet, I'd make a print out and list the date on which I cited it. I'd then keep the information on file, available for all and sundry. Obviously, most blogs don't do this, but there's no reason a journalist couldn't.

In the case of the Post, the solution would be simple: if they're going to claim that the speech differed from both transcripts, they'd put an audio file on the website, or at least provide one when asked. That, however, seems a hope too far.

September 03, 2004

Tenuous Connections and Completely Unnecessary Bluebooking

I normally listen to web radio whilst I'm bluebooking things for Law Review. It helps pass the time, and besides, I don't know any decent country music stations in New York. (What a surprise.) And because so much of the work I'm doing doesn't really take my full attention, the mind wanders a bit.

So when I came across a Toby Keith song that reminded me of one of my favorite quotations, I realized I didn't know how to Bluebook either of them. Five minutes later, I came up with this:

Don't bit off more than you can chew
There's things down here the Devil himself wouldn't do
Just remember when you let it all go
What happens down in Mexico stays in Mexico

Toby Keith, Stays in Mexico, on Stays in Mexico (DreamWorks Records 2004).

Which reminded me of:

"FRIAR BARNARDINE. Thou hast committed--

BARABAS. Fornication: but that was in another country;
And besides, the wench is dead."


Christopher Marlowe, The Jew of Malta, (Project Gutenberg, 1997) at href="http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext97/jmlta10.txt.

Yes, it's amazing the things that get linked in the brain when I'm Bluebooking. And seriously, if there's any mistakes in the above, don't point them out, OK?

UPDATE: A friend asks, "What was that entry about, Tony? Well, it wasn't really about Law Review or anything else. Mostly, I'd discovered how to do small-caps in HTML, and wanted an excuse.

August 05, 2004

Must... Check... Bluebook...

Well, that's the first 'real' day of Law Review down. We've been at it since Monday, but this was the first solo assignment. Checking four pages with any thoroughness took me... hours. Can't tell you how many, exactly, simply because I'm the sort who procrastinates and does one hundred different things at the same time. Today I'll try to focus a little more, and cut it down to size.

Through a combination of tiredness and jetlag, I came home from Law Review, had dinner with a friend, and collapsed in bed around ten, getting absolutely nothing accomplished that I'd meant to in the evening. I'm now bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at...man, it's 3:40?...and figuring I ought to start work.

Here's a big difference between Tokyo and New York City: in Tokyo, I'd not have thought twice about lugging my computer five blocks in the pre-dawn darkness. Here in New York, I feel almost trapped in this tower now the sun's down. (Though I'll probably make the move anyway.)

July 11, 2004

How Does One Say This?

I feel I ought to note this down, but after four days of trying to write an entry that sounded witty, nonchalant, humble, humourous, and exciting, I decided just to give up and say it straight.

I have been accepted to Law Review.

Hence the new category. In any event, since my friend and fellow Columbia blogger the Serious Law Student wonders if this means 1L is over, I'll have to say I'm inclined to say yes. Stay tuned for some layout changes around here.

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