Innovation and Experience in Legal Education

What’s the point of “experiential” legal education?  Anecdotes and a bit of data are surfacing. Note:

The same batch of messages that brought these to my attention also brought me a link to the upcoming ABA Techshow, which struck me as being enormously important to the future of lawyers but not much in the sights of the bulleted experiential legal education programs. Continue reading Innovation and Experience in Legal Education

Changing Rhetorics of Copyright

People with a taste for the finer details of copyright law pay attention to the language in notices of claimed copyright, the rhetoric of claims to enforce software licenses, and related things.

Book publishers, for example, routinely insert copyright notices that forbid any and all reproduction of any and all material, sometimes explicitly allowing for selections used in a review, but sometimes not. More than a decade ago, Alchemy Mindworks was celebrated (that link goes to an article by Lydia Pallas Loren) for threatening to unleash “a leather-winged demon of the night” on unauthorized users of its software.  (I just checked.  That demonic language is still there!) Creative Commons notices, of course, turn this idea on its head. In the spirit of Abbie Hoffman, perhaps (and with apologies to Rebecca Tushnet), a CC work says: Copy me, please (with conditions)!

The interesting stuff, to me, lies in the rhetorical space between “copy and you’re a thief” notices and “copy and you’re a hero” notices. This post is prompted by one of these, from William Gibson’s new novel, The Peripheral (Penguin 2014):

“Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.”

There are all sorts of rhetorical moves there, technical problems, and legal ambiguities. Have some fun, for example, by substituting the phrase “the public domain” for “copyright” every time it appears in that paragraph. Copy a bit of the text, as I just did, and persuade yourself that it constitutes fair use, as I just did.

“Penguin supports copyright.” I never imagined that it does not, but copyright ordinarily isn’t something that one supports, just as ordinarily, copyright isn’t something that one believes in – or does not.  Copyright is a fact of the world.  “Do you believe in infant baptism?,” Mark Twain supposedly was asked. And he is supposed to have replied, “Believe in it? I’ve seen it done!”

In Pittsburgh: Kevin Sousa is Right!

Kevin Sousa, Pittsburgh chef and entrepreneur extraordinaire, has a plan to rescue the Pittsburgh region’s signature communal failure, Braddock, Pennsylvania, by opening a high-end restaurant there. It will be an unusual restaurant, “Superior Motors,” with some local sourcing and some local hiring, but a high-end restaurant nonetheless.  The other day, EATER magazine published an interesting overview of Sousa’s prospects — can culinary tourism bring hipster credibility and economic success to Braddock? — and EATER included some quotations from me, expressing skepticism. I have my doubts about Kevin Sousa and Braddock.

But Kevin Sousa is right about something else and something bigger. Even if I believe that Superior Motors and all that won’t bring Braddock back, I’m cheering for Kevin Sousa and people like him.

Here’s why. Continue reading In Pittsburgh: Kevin Sousa is Right!

Change Afoot at Madisonian.net in 2015

I’ve been teaching law for 16 years. This blog has been around for more than 10 years. To speak the plain truth, it’s getting pretty damn dull around here.

So change is afoot. I’m starting small, redesigning the blog (for WordPress aficionados, this is the new Twenty Fifteen theme, with more tweaks to come) and, more importantly, going solo. From this point forward, madisonian.net posts will be my own, and only my own.

After years of collaboration here, with an evolving but usually growing group of law professor colleagues, I am breaking up the band. All older posts will stay online, but new stuff by the crew will appear elsewhere. Members of the Madisonian.net team can be found, in most cases, on other blogs (Concurring Opinions and PrawfsBlawg, especially), on Twitter, sometimes on Facebook, and even in journal articles, books, MSM op-eds, and in podcasts and broadcasts. How can you miss them if they won’t go away?

My posting has picked up over the last few weeks, and I aim to pick it up a bit more in the weeks and months ahead. I’ve changed the blog description (upper left corner of the site) to reflect the broader range of things that I plan to write about from time to time.

Happy New Year!