Tuesday, June 23, 2009

If I could write funny and British...

This is what I'd say. From Andrew Orlowski in The Register:

Freetard prof faces fine, jail

And the trial hasn't even begun

Harvard professor Charlie Nesson's loony-tunes defence tactics in a file-sharing case against the US record industry may land him in the clink.

The 69-year old co-founder of the New Age think-tank the Berkman Center, is defending former student Joel T[e]nenbaum in a copyright infringement case, using Harvard undergrads to do the grunt work. However the Judge has already lost patience with Nesson's eccentric pre-trial tactics - which include taping and publishing conversations without the participants' permission, and re-posting the files T[e]nenbaum shared to the web. It's driven Federal Judge Nancy Gertner nuts, and she's lost patience.

Go read the whole thing.


  1. i'm seventy, and the founder. zittrain is the co-founder.

    is "felon" a term you introduced?

    Federal judge says Harvard Law professor is a felon.

  2. @Prof. Nesson:

    Judge Gertner stated in her June 16 order that your recording practices constitute a "violation of the law." From her previous orders (e.g., order of 2/23/09), it is clear that the law she was referring to was Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 272, Section 99, which makes it a felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison, to record conversations without the consent of all parties.


    "The parties are advised that any such recording without permission of the participants, as well as the broadcast of such communications, runs afoul of Mass. Gen. L. c. 272 § 99."

  3. I don't know the Massachusetts wiretapping law in particular, but there's a huge amount of prosecutorial discretion that is traditionally employed in applying criminal penalties under the federal Wiretap Act; charges seem to be relatively rare. Minor, non-malicious recording like Nesson's tends to be left to the civil remedies section.

    I realize it's a Twitter feed, but in my opinion, Nesson is not even potentially a "felon" until at least a prosecutor decides that this is a case worth bringing.

  4. @Bruce Boyden:

    It's quite true that Prof. Nesson has not been formally accused, let alone convicted, of anything. And I agree with you that it's very unlikely to come to that.

    However, I think it's significant that a federal judge has said, in a written order, that his recording constitutes a "violation of the law" -- a law that is a felony. I've never seen anything like this.

  5. i personally find the term "freetard" offensive.

  6. @Anonymous 10:45:

    I see your point, and I don't use the term myself. I thought it was worth quoting the headline to give a sense of the different style of British journalism.

  7. I think Andrew misuses the term 'freetard' in this context.
    However, I don't think it's wrong to describe Prof. Nessom with that term - he hasn't presented any argument that suggests he has a different view (well, not in language most of us could understand)

  8. Making it be a giant boldface font is a bit suggestive, though.


    I'm not sure what "gbs" is supposed to be in the Twitter that The Reg quoted. A closet Something Awful reference? (yes, I know it's more likely that he meant to type "gbh".)


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