Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

MPAA Needs No Evidence To Sue You

Posted in bit torrent,bittorrent,Copyright,DMCA,iPhone,iPod,P2P by Elliott Back on June 30th, 2008.

The following remark was made by Marie. L. van Uitert, MPAA attorney in the Jammie Thomas trial. She wrote in a brief:

It is often very difficult, and in some cases, impossible, to provide such direct proof when confronting modern forms of copyright infringement, whether over P2P networks or otherwise; understandably, copyright infringers typically do not keep records of infringement. Mandating that proof could thus have the pernicious effect of depriving copyright owners of a practical remedy against massive copyright infringement in many cases.

The rest of the brief goes on to list the reasons why the MPAA feels it should not have to meet the full burden of proof in its case (i.e. proving actual distribution). For them, the existence of a location where the copyright material could be copied is sufficient grounds for prosecution. When you take this off the internet, this is equivalent to suing some for 12 * $150,00 for loaning someone a CD they later copied.

For more coverage, see Wired and TorrentFreak.

Are Pro Life Drugstores Legal, Ethical?

Posted in Health,Religion,Science by Elliott Back on June 29th, 2008.

An article in the Washington Post, ‘Pro-Life’ Drugstores Market Beliefs: No Contraceptives For Chantilly Shop, introduced me to the concept of a “Pro-life Drugstore.” This is a place were prescriptions are filled, but not for prophylactics, birth control, or Plan-B:

When DMC Pharmacy opens this summer on Route 50 in Chantilly, the shelves will be stocked with allergy remedies, pain relievers, antiseptic ointments and almost everything else sold in any drugstore. But anyone who wants condoms, birth control pills or the Plan B emergency contraceptive will be turned away.

That’s because the drugstore, located in a typical shopping plaza featuring a Ruby Tuesday, a Papa John’s and a Kmart, will be a “pro-life pharmacy” — meaning, among other things, that it will eschew all contraceptives.

The pharmacy is one of a small but growing number of drugstores around the country that have become the latest front in a conflict pitting patients’ rights against those of health-care workers who assert a “right of conscience” to refuse to provide care or products that they find objectionable.

“The United States was founded on the idea that people act on their conscience — that they have a sense of right and wrong and do what they think is right and moral,” said Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel at the Thomas More Society, a Chicago public-interest law firm that is defending a pharmacist who was fined and reprimanded for refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control pills. “Every pharmacist has the right to do the same thing,” Brejcha said.

They cite a think tank who has the same immediate objection that comes to my mind:

“If you are a health-care professional, you are bound by professional obligations,” said Nancy Berlinger, deputy director of the Hastings Center, a bioethics think tank in Garrison, N.Y. “You can’t say you won’t do part of that profession.”

There’s a good article here about why faith must not trump the Hippocratic oath. It’s for the same reason that in diagnosis Doctors follow established statistical treatment plans; they’re proven to optimally treat patients. Some religions don’t allow blood-transfusions, yet they are critical processes for recovery in many severe traumas. As a medical professional, can you ethically refuse to dispense a medication simply because you find it personally distasteful?


Posted in Movie,Movies by Elliott Back on June 29th, 2008.

With a 9.3 rating on IMDB, 96% on rottentomatoes, and 93% on metacritic, Wall-E is Pixar’s big summer hit. I just got back from seeing it yesterday with Wendy, and it’s as good as the hype says it was; touching, humorous, and critical of consumptionary lifestyles.


Wikipedia’s summary is excellent, so I’ll just reproduce it here:

Around the year 2118, the company Buy ‘n Large supplied almost every service on Earth, from food to banking to transportation. The company has such a monopoly on every service that it simply becomes the world government, with a “World CEO” in charge of all humanity. Overrun by consumerism, humanity abandoned the planet aboard luxury spaceliners such as the Axiom. Thousands of WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) units were left behind to convert the garbage into a disposable form. The recovery plan failed, however, and 700 years later in the year 2815, Earth is completely devoid of life and still covered with trash, with only one WALL-E (the protagonist, voiced by Ben Burtt) still operational.

Go see the movie. Tell your friends to see it. And check out the Apple page for trailers, clips, and more. $62,500,000 the first weekend isn’t enough, Wall-E deserves more!

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