Is sending porn illegal in Pennsylvania?
Dave Davies writes on his WHYY blog, Off Mic:
It’s right there in the state crimes code; it’s a third-class misdemeanor to “sell, lend, distribute, transmit, exhibit, or give away or show any obscene materials to any person 18 years of age or older…” (There’s a separate statute prohibiting distribution of pornography to anyone younger than 18.)
He’s right, you can find it at 18 Pa . C.S. 5903. Davies goes on to explain the difficulty of defining “obscenity,” a function of the concept’s basis in community standards which can vary from community to community.
Laser-armed fighter jets by 2020
Thom Patterson writes for CNN:
Here’s how Air Force special ops might use them: The commander of USAF special ops, Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold, said last September that by 2020 he wants them on C-130J Ghostrider gunships for landing zone protection.
The laser weapons would take out possible threats like enemy vehicles, or disable infrastructure such as cell towers.
I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens last night (more on that coming in an article later) so laser weapons seem an appropriate story to share today.
“A slower-track school where they do well”
I’m just going to leave this Justice Scalia quote right here:
There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well.
Israeli Supreme Court Rejects Family Petition To Bury Trans Woman As Their “Son”
Peleg, who was 31, had long been concerned about a battle with her ultra-orthodox family after her death. Their beliefs forbid cremation, and she worried they would attempt to have a religious burial under her male name. Peleg paid for her own cremation in March 2014 at the one funeral home in Jerusalem that performs the service, and filed a will with an attorney a day before her suicide and asked that he fight for her wishes if her family attempted to interfere.
This is heartening. No one should be driven to suicide by discrimination against who they are, but the ultimate insult is ignorance of one’s post-death wishes, because when are we more vulnerable than in death?
Adele’s ’25’ on Pandora
Pandora confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that every track from Adele’e new album is available through its radio service. That’s not going to be a particularly great way of listening to 25 — because Pandora is a radio service, it means you can’t choose what to listen to and will have to wait for a station to play the new songs — but it does mean that Adele’s album is streaming in some form. You just have to be really, really patient to hear it all.
Pandora’s strange licensing niche usually works against it but here, despite the inability to listen through the songs in order, Pandora has something like an exclusive.
I wonder if Adele’s lawyers told her that keeping it off the on-demand streaming services means the track order she chose will not be the one many people hear the first time they hear the songs.
I don’t know how much that matters to modern musicians, or to someone like Adele, who doesn’t really have a customer acquisition problem.
For the, er, record, I prefer to listen to an album in order if possible.
When is time to take antitrust action against Comcast?
It’s hard to read about U.S. comeptition law without wondering when Comcast is going to face consequences for its clear abuse of its market power.
China hack attacks on US continue despite commercial spying pact
If this surprises you, I’ve got a real-life, fully functional totally Back to the Future hoverboard to sell you…
CFPB proposes ban of class action prohibitions in arbitration clauses
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said in a press release today:
In the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Congress required the CFPB to study the use of arbitration clauses in consumer financial markets and gave the Bureau the power to issue regulations that are in the public interest, for the protection of consumers, and consistent with the study’s findings. The CFPB’s study – released in March of this year – showed that arbitration clauses restrict consumers’ relief for disputes with financial service providers by allowing companies to block group lawsuits.
The study also found that, in the consumer finance markets studied, very few consumers individually seek relief through arbitration or the federal courts, while millions of consumers are eligible for relief each year through group settlements. According to the study, more than 75 percent of consumers surveyed in the credit card market did not know whether they were subject to an arbitration clause in their contract. Fewer than 7 percent of those consumers covered by arbitration clauses realized that the clauses restricted their ability to sue in court.
The March 2015 CFPB report on this issue (PDF) said:
The Bureau understands that class lawsuits have been subject to significant criticism that regards them as an imperfect tool that can be expensive and cumbersome for all parties. However, the Bureau notes that Congress, state legislatures, and the courts have mechanisms for managing and improving class procedures over time. On balance, the Bureau believes that consumers are significantly better protected from harm by consumer financial service providers when they are able to aggregate claims. Accordingly, the Bureau believes that ensuring that consumers can pursue class litigation related to covered consumer financial products or services without being curtailed by arbitration agreements protects consumers, furthers the public interest, and is consistent with the Study.
Class action lawsuits can be a pain in the ass for everyone involved and the only winners are the plaintiffs’ lawyers. But the mere possibility of a class action may be enough to prevent predatory behavior on the part of service providers.
‘Happy Birthday’ copyright held invalid
Until now, Warner has asked for royalties from anyone who wanted to sing or play “Happy Birthday to You” — with the lyrics — as part of a profit-making enterprise. Royalties were most often collected from stage productions, television shows, movies or greeting cards. But even those who wanted to sing the song publicly as part of a business, say a restaurant owner giving out free birthday cake to patrons, technically had to pay to use the song, prompting creative renditions at chain eateries trying to avoid paying royalties.
I hope this is the death knell of every non-‘Happy Birthday’ song all of those tchotchke-full restaurants have been forcing their underpaid and overworked waitstaffers to sing to uncomfortable diners.