Upcoming Congressional Hearings on Electronic Voting

elections, copyright, open source, politics, friends, policy, usability, legal

I'm not sure where to find or point you to more information, but the Subcommittee on Elections of the House Administration Committee has a number of very interesting upcoming hearings. These don't appear to be listed on the Committee's website (http://cha.house.gov/).

This Thursday (3/15) there are two hearings; one on disabled access and paper records in voting systems and the other on source code disclosure and commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software in voting systems (I may very well be wrong about the scope of the hearings).

Witnesses for the disabled access panel include:

Witnesses for the source code disclosure panel include:

Then, next Tuesday (3/20) there will be a hearing on, I believe, auditing elections. I know Larry Norden of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law will be testifying and I believe Candice Hoke from the CSU Law School Center for Election Integrity will also testify.

If anyone else has information about these hearings (times, locations, will they be webcast?), I'd love to know more.

Brett Frischmann on "Spillovers"

copyright, berkeley, policy, legal, podcasts, iSchool
Brett Frischmann speaking to the UC Berkeley iSchool

Brett Frischmann from Loyola Chicago School of Law gave a Faculty Candidate Talk yesterday on his paper, "Spillovers", co-authored with Mark Lemley. Here is the audio and here is the abstract for the talk:

Economists since Demsetz have viewed property rights as a way to internalize the external costs and benefits one party's action confers on another. They have thought this internalization desirable, reasoning that if a party didn't capture the full social value of her actions she wouldn't have optimal incentives to engage in those actions. Measured by this standard, IP rights are inefficiently weak. There is abundant evidence that the social value of innovations far exceeds the private value. But there is also good evidence that, contrary to what economists might assume, these spillovers actually encourage greater innovation. The result is a puzzle for Demsetzians.

In this article, we offer three insights that help to explain the positive role of innovation spillovers. First, we note that in IP, unlike real property, a wide range of externalities matter, because IP rights are much less certain than property rights, and because the decision to create a legal entitlement will determine whether or not a transaction must occur. Second, we make the point that while society needs some ex ante incentive to innovate, it doesn't need (and doesn't particularly want) full internalization of the benefits of an invention. Third, we observe that even where internalizing externalities is desirable, property rights do not in fact do so perfectly, and they create problematic distortions in circumstances in which the buyer in a transaction makes productive reuse of the work. The result of combining these insights is that at least where innovation is concerned, we cannot rely on the easy equation of property rights with efficient internalization of externalities.

Timing of Presidential Elections in California

elections, wtf?, politics, policy, legal

SB 113--the CA February primary bill--apparently has left its last committee of the California legislature as of Monday and will likely soon be on our Governor's desk. I was looking at the text of this bill and it says the date of the primary will be, if the bill is not vetoed, on "the first Tuesday in February in any year evenly divisible by the number four."

A fellow student asked me "Why 'divisible by four' and not 'the presidential election year'?" I can't seem to easily figure this one out. 3 U.S.C. 1 says "in every fourth year succeeding every election of a President and Vice President." Which seems to bootstrap the year of presidential (and vice-presidential) to the presidential election before 1845 when Congress passed that law. So, if Congress chose to change the date of the pres./vice-pres. election to a year not evenly divisible by four, the CA Election Code would have to be revised accordingly.

I guess I can see that having presidential elections in years divisible by four, which are typically leap years, would give one extra campaign day, but I still don't understand the CA Election Code's "divisible by four" language. I suppose it could possibly be just a statutory construction matter (that is, the other dates listed in CA Elec. Code 1000 are stated in terms of divisibility).

I guess I'm stumped.

Call for Papers: IAVoSS Workshop On Trustworthy Elections (WOTE 2007)

elections, news, privacy, friends, research

Link: http://research.microsoft.com/conferences/WOTE2007/

Location: University of Ottawa; Ottawa, CANADA, June 20-21, 2007. (Held in conjunction with 7th Workshop on Privacy Enhancing Technologies.)

Call for Papers

Background

The workshop is organized by IAVoSS, the International Association for Voting Systems Sciences, in association with the 7th Workshop on Privacy Enhancing Technologies. It follows in the tradition of the series of workshops devoted to cryptographic voting methods, such as WOTE '01, the DIMACS Workshop 2004, FEE 2005, the NeSC Workshop on e-voting and e-democracy, and WOTE 2006.

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Stallman on Copyright Reform

copyright, open source, berkeley, photos, p2p, policy, DRM, legal

Richard Stallman at UC Berkeley in February 2007

Richard Stallman came to speak at UC Berkeley's Department of Computer Science this past Wednesday about copyright reform. I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed. I've heard a lot of what he said before and I had skipped another very interesting lecture (Brian Cantwell Smith on "Pilot Project for a Future University") to attend his lecture. Despite my disappointment, one central idea was definitely new to me. That is, Stallman made a concrete proposal for reforming copyright in the U.S.

Read on for more...

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