Why Consumers Should Be Worried About Net Neutrality

“Network Neutrality”, more commonly referred to as simply “Net Neutrality” is the concept, coined by Columbia media law professor Tim Wu, that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially based on user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication. Continue reading Why Consumers Should Be Worried About Net Neutrality

Rock, Paper, Public Domain

John Walker, of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, recently wrote a very interesting (not to mention comprehensive) article entitled “Why Games Should Enter the Public Domain” on the place of Public Domain in the video game industry.[1] His argument is particularly interesting in that he goes even further than the standard pro-public domain and pro-creative commons attitudes of many gamers and consumers of digital media. He argues for a radical restructuring of how intellectual property rights are handled in this area, with a suggested strong reduction of the length and strength of intellectual property protection for creators. Furthermore, Walker does not simply write this from the standpoint of an ‘everything-should-be-free’, unrealistic consumer, but rather also as a man who has benefited economically from his own video game journalism. One of the key points to take away from Walker’s argument is that the lengthy protection currently afforded to most works in this industry do not in fact end up benefiting the “creators” themselves (a tricky group to pin down at the best of times, as the core development team can span from solo undertakings to the hundreds), but rather the large publishing and media giants who retain the rights to such games. Continue reading Rock, Paper, Public Domain

The Republican Dáil Courts: A Revolutionary Irish Legal System

Not much is generally known about modern Ireland’s first attempt at an independent, fully sovereign courts system, now commonly known as the ‘Dáil Éireann Courts’ ( or simply the ‘Dáil Courts’), ‘Sinn Féin Courts’ or ‘Republican Courts’. History has tended to ignore the idea of an independent  Irish legal system in favour of the more pressing and political issues of the time: Yet, to certain groups and to the people of Ireland, this was one of the most significant steps towards Irish independence, Continue reading The Republican Dáil Courts: A Revolutionary Irish Legal System

Are Monkeys More Moral Than People

In a talk by Lori Santos from a Coursera course I’m taking at the moment (the talk is limited to those signed up for the course, but you can find a similar talk by her here), she points to an experiment from the 1960s, in which monkeys would go up to 12 days refusing to pull a lever they knew would give them food, because this lever now had the added side effect of administering a painful electric shock to another nearby monkey. Continue reading Are Monkeys More Moral Than People

EULAs and Online Gaming – Simply a Better Fit Than Property Law?

Recently, whilst doing some research on the concept of ownership and licensing in the video game industry, I came across a very interesting paper by Christopher J Cifrino entitled “Virtual Property, Virtual Rights: Why Contract Law, Not Property Law, Must Be the Governing Paradigm in the Law of Virtual Worlds“.[1] In this paper, Cifrino argues (unsurprisingly if you read the title) that contract law might actually be the best and fairest way to continue dealing with the legal relationship between the gamer/consumer and the developer and/or publisher. Continue reading EULAs and Online Gaming – Simply a Better Fit Than Property Law?

The Mutant Olympics: Genetic Enhancement and Doping in Sports

Julian Savulescu, Professor of Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, has argued that “[g]enetic enhancement is not against the spirit of sport; it is the spirit of sport” [i] quite succinctly capturing one side of the ongoing debate about the role of Human Enhancement Technologies (HETs) in competitive sports. This argument states that enhancement is the very essence of such endeavours, striving to always improve on the limits of the human body. Continue reading The Mutant Olympics: Genetic Enhancement and Doping in Sports

Consciousness, Ethics and Ravens

Image: Auguste von Bayern
Image: Auguste von Bayern

I have for a long time now been fascinated and perplexed by the challenges of basing human rights and ethics on an alternative quality such as genetics or consciousness as opposed to religion or natural law. Scientific and ethical discussion can impact and is impacting how we treat other species, particularly highly intelligent animals such as dolphins, chimps and ravens. Continue reading Consciousness, Ethics and Ravens