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Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





Copyright Notice: We don't think much of copyright, so you can do what you want with the content on this blog. Of course we are hungry for publicity, so we would be pleased if you avoided plagiarism and gave us credit for what we have written. We encourage you not to impose copyright restrictions on your "derivative" works, but we won't try to stop you. For the legally or statist minded, you can consider yourself subject to a Creative Commons Attribution License.


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DC bar association: reproducing our public info violates our copyright

In the category of "can you believe it," the District of Columbia Bar "wants an online directory (avvo.com) that compiles profiles of lawyers -- from the bar's own Web site, no less -- to cease and desist, arguing that posting information about Washington lawyers for commercial purposes violates copyright laws and privacy rights. It's not too fond of the feature that allows consumers to rate a lawyer, either" link here. "This has nothing to do with obstructing access to information," said the bar's spokeswoman,

The story has more detail, but adds little to alter the thrust. Need one say more?


Comments

Thanks for the post. Avvo stands ready to work cooperatively with the bar to ensure our information is as up-to-date as possible (as we do with many other states), but we're not going to accede to demands to shut our service down in DC. We've made it easier than ever for consumers to find a lawyer - or find our whether a particular lawyer has been disciplined by the bar. You'd think the bar would appreciate our help in publicizing the sanctions they impose on wayward members.

Josh King VP, Business Development & General Counsel Avvo, Inc.

Privacy rights? If the bar is publishing the same information on it's own website, it can't be a violation of anyone's privacy to republish the same info on another site.

As for copyright, what is the reason for the existence of the bar? Is not the only reason it exists at all is because it is mandated by law that all lawyers be it's member? Doesn't it exist to make sure that all lawyers are qualified, sufficiently trained, and carry out their duties with proper care? Or has it replace this object with another? To misuse copyright law to to protect it's members from criticism?

'"This has nothing to do with obstructing access to information," said the bar's spokeswoman,'

That says it all right there -- assumptions about our current "ownership society" run so deep that a trained representative can say something like this with a straight face.

I spotted these Wired articles and TED talks after reading this post, and thought they were relevant:

Officials Hoard Valuable Databases Funded by Taxpayers

Hans Rosling: Debunking third-world myths with the best stats you've ever seen

Tim Berners-Lee: The next Web of open, linked data

I'm personally really excited that the father of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee, sees the benefit of the direct data-web. This view, of the value of freely accessible data, seems wholly incompatible with these old notions of "monopoly data ownership" that the government is still espousing. Something has got to give, or the valuable digerati class of our society will all end up on a different private and encrypted network, like Freenet, and the digital divide will just become even greater.


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