Blogging and the Law

by John Holbo on January 10, 2006

No, not another post about how legal scholars are into it. Via Adam Kotsko, I learn that anonymous blogging is a lot less legal than you probably thought.

The fine print of the Waste of The Supreme Court’s Valuable Time Waiting To Happen Act Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act:

“Whoever…utilizes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet… without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person…who receives the communications…shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”

Given that for all x, such that x is a political opinion, there exists some y, such that y is a person who will be annoyed by x, hell I’d say it’s no longer legal even for the NY Times to post unsigned editorials on their website. I guess you can invoke some sort of doctrine of double effect here. But you get into a position in which it is legal, say, to intend to damage someone’s political career by criticizing them; but not legal to intend to annoy that person? Am I missing something here?

UPDATE: Comments inform me the Volokhs are already debating this. Sorry to have missed that. (I should read more blogs.) Kerr says it’s just a kerfuffle. Eugene V. says maybe it’s really a problem.

Blogging and tenure

by Henry on January 10, 2006

Following up on Chris’s post below, Dan Solove at Concurring Opinions has also written a post on the “pros and cons of blogging without tenure”:http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2006/01/blogging_withou_1.html. In favour: name recognition, exposure to other disciplines, increased ability to network, higher google rankings, and ability to talk to non-academics. Against: risks to reputation if your blogging seems shrill or frivolous to colleagues, and risks of distraction from producing peer reviewed articles (or whatever it is that you’re supposed to produce in order to get tenure in your discipline). I’m probably the wrong person to opine on this, as (a) I started blogging precisely in order to talk about things that I couldn’t talk about in my research, and (b) despite these initial intentions, have ended up turning blogs into part of my research, and thus something (I hope!) that contributes to tenure chances etc. But I would be interested to hear from CT reading academics – whether untenured (what are the tradeoffs that you perceive in blogging or not blogging as an untenured assistant or visiting professor or whatever?) or tenured (what do you think of junior colleagues blogging? A good or bad idea?).

Blogging, legal scholarship and academic careers

by Chris Bertram on January 10, 2006

Over at Legal Theory Blog, Larry Solum has “an interesting post on the difference that blogging, and the internet more generally, has made to legal scholarship”:http://lsolum.blogspot.com/archives/2006_01_01_lsolum_archive.html#113683990156732487 . Key points include the speed of dissemination, the bypassing of the gatekeepers that have traditionally mediated between legal scholars and the wider world, and the globalization of legal debate. Larry also has a few words about blogging and how it might affect your career as an academic lawyer (including some cautionary words for the untenured). Go take a look.