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MS judges use networked PowerBooks, says eye-witness

Not so IT illiterate after all, apparently...

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There may well be a US market for a who's sued who Christmas book, considering the amount of crossover we're seeing in the Home of the Litigant. MS trial star David Boies in now busy Napstering, while Judge's Jackson's erstwhile helper Lawrence Lessig has been involved in the appeal in Eldred v. Reno, in the very court where Microsoft's appeal will be going ahead, Real Soon Now.

The appeals court judges, as we reported earlier, will be getting some basic instruction in IT next month. But it turns out we may not be talking tyros after all here. In a post to Openlaw Eldred v. Reno discussion group list Eric Eldred says of his most recent outing to the court that "there might be reason to hope for intelligent appeals court judges who can well understand technology and the law. Certainly they were not intimidated by technology nor the Internet, they even made jokes about it (including Gore's supposed invention), and they asked penetrating questions - we can hope for some respect for our technical judgments."

But wait for the punchline: "The same court will be taking Microsoft v DOJ soon. One curious technical observer sitting in the front row noticed that Judge Ginsburg and the three law clerks all used Apple PowerBooks on a network that allowed them to send messages back and forth while the arguments went on. Sounds like MSFT will have a road to hoe there."

Eldred v. Reno is an attempt to challenge the US Copyright Term Extension Act (also known as the Sonny Bono Act, after its original sponsor), which extends copyright protection by 20 years, making individual works copyright for life plus 70 years rather than life plus 50. Eldred runs a highly-regarded non-profit site producing electronic editions of works out of copyright, and fell foul of the Act. He and his supporters are particularly objecting to its retrospective nature, among other aspects.

Another interesting character associated with Eldred v. Reno is Mickey Mouse, although his connection with the Microsoft case has not yet been identified. Allegedly the realisation that Mickey would enter the public domain in 2004 prompted Disney chief Michael Eisner's support for CTEA, which now keeps him and a clutch of other Disney assets in-house for a good while longer. ®

Eldred v. Reno Links

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Eric Eldred's site

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