June 30, 2016

Adnan Syed, Defendant Made Famous in "Serial" Podcast, Granted New Trial

Adnan Syed, the central figure in the popular podcast Serial, has been granted a new trial.  Baltimore Circuit Judge Martin Welch handed down the decision today, finding that Mr. Syed's attorney erred at trial in failing to cross-examine an expert concerning cell tower data that seemed to put Mr. Syed's cellphone near the site where the victim, Hae Min Lee, was found. Mr. Syed has been in prison for 16 years. More here from The Hollywood Reporter. 

More about the pop culture effect of the podcast here (from CNN), here from the New York Times, and here in this  selected bibliography:

Durrani, Mariam, Kevin Gotkin, and Corrina Laughlin, Serial, Seriality, and the Possibilities for the Podcast Format, American Anthropologist, Aug. 18, 2015. 

Lopez Coombs, N. A., Truth Is Stranger Than Fan Fiction: The Serial Podcast and Citizen Journalism (Master's thesis, Utrecht University, 2016).

O'Meara, Jennifer, Like Movies For Radio: Media Convergence and the Serial Podcast Sensation, Frames Cinema Journal.

Pierre, Joe, The Psychology of "Serial[:}" What the Most Popular Podcast Ever Says About How Our Brains Work and Don't Work, Psych Unseen, Psychology Today, Jan. 21, 2015. 

    June 29, 2016

    Zhang on Cultural Paradigms in Property Institutions

    Taisu Zhang, Yale University Law School, is publishing Cultural Paradigms in Property Institutions in the Yale Journal of International Law. Here is the abstract.
    Do “cultural factors” substantively influence the creation and evolution of property institutions? For the past several decades, few legal scholars have answered affirmatively. Those inclined towards a law and economics methodology tend to see property institutions as the outcome of self-interested and utilitarian bargaining, and therefore often question the analytical usefulness of “culture.” The major emerging alternative, a progressive literature that emphasizes the social embeddedness of property institutions and individuals, is theoretically more accommodating of cultural analysis but has done very little of it. This Article develops a “cultural” theory of how property institutions are created and demonstrates that such a theory is particularly powerful in explaining large-scale institutional differences between societies. Empirically, it argues that, in the two centuries before large-scale industrialization, China, England, and Japan displayed systematic and fundamental differences in their regulation of property use and transfer. It further argues that these legal and institutional differences are best explained by certain aspects of social culture, specifically by the criteria for sociopolitical status distribution. Some of these criteria are distinctly “cultural” in the sense that they were probably generated by the widespread social internalization of moral values, rather than by utilitarian bargaining. Cultural paradigms can exist, therefore, in property institutions. If we assume, as conventional law and economics urges, that individuals generally approach property use and regulation through a self-interested and utilitarian mindset, their pursuit of personal utility can nonetheless be constrained or empowered by cultural norms of status distribution that determine their relative bargaining power.
    Download the article from SSRN at the link.

    Struck on Divination and Human Nature

    New from Princeton University Press: Peter T. Struck, Divination and Human Nature: A Cognitive History of Intuition in Classical Antiquity (Princeton University Press, 2016). Here is a description of the contents from the publisher's website.
    Divination and Human Nature casts a new perspective on the rich tradition of ancient divination—the reading of divine signs in oracles, omens, and dreams. Popular attitudes during classical antiquity saw these readings as signs from the gods while modern scholars have treated such beliefs as primitive superstitions. In this book, Peter Struck reveals instead that such phenomena provoked an entirely different accounting from the ancient philosophers. These philosophers produced subtle studies into what was an odd but observable fact—that humans could sometimes have uncanny insights—and their work signifies an early chapter in the cognitive history of intuition. Examining the writings of Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, and the Neoplatonists, Struck demonstrates that they all observed how, setting aside the charlatans and swindlers, some people had premonitions defying the typical bounds of rationality. Given the wide differences among these ancient thinkers, Struck notes that they converged on seeing this surplus insight as an artifact of human nature, projections produced under specific conditions by our physiology. For the philosophers, such unexplained insights invited a speculative search for an alternative and more naturalistic system of cognition. Recovering a lost piece of an ancient tradition, Divination and Human Nature illustrates how philosophers of the classical era interpreted the phenomena of divination as a practice closer to intuition and instinct than magic.
    Peter T. Struck is Evan C. Thompson Term Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

    Via @curtisfrye.

    Cross-posted to the Law and Magic Blog.

    Pedrioli on Justice Scalia's Rhetoric of Sexual Orientation

    Carlo A. Pedrioli, American Bar Foundation, has published Judicial Neutrality Awash with Ideology: Justice Scalia, Sexual Orientation, and Rhetorical Personae at 21 Tex. J. C. L. & C R. 183 (2016). Here is the abstract.
    In light of Justice Antonin Scalia’s having dissented from the U.S. Supreme Court’s support for sexual minority rights in a series of cases decided under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, this paper, drawing upon rhetorical theory, considers Scalia’s rhetoric of sexual orientation. In his dissents in Romer v. Evans, Lawrence v. Texas, United States v. Windsor, and Obergefell v. Hodges, Scalia performed and constructed various rhetorical personae, or roles, including the first, second, and third personae, that produced rhetorical hypocrisy grounded in a heteronormative ideology. The first persona, or speaker of the dissents, that Scalia performed was that of a neutral justice. The second persona, or the audience implied in the dissents, that Scalia constructed would receive appeals to tradition and majoritarian rule favorably and, ignoring the possibility of change in tradition and likewise ignoring minority rights, be susceptible to the alleged political threat of sexual minorities. The third persona, or the marginalized party in the dissents, that Scalia constructed consisted of the sexual minority as a criminal or other individual not thought highly of, such as a person with a drug addiction, a polygamist, or a prostitute. Although Scalia’s performance of a neutral justice was skillful, his construction of the second and third personae undermined his performance of the first persona. Essentially, a justice who claimed neutrality was appealing to an implied audience that ignored minority rights and irrationally feared a small minority group. Meanwhile, the justice constructed sexual minorities as criminals or other poorly regarded individuals.
    Download the article from SSRN at the link.

    June 28, 2016

    Some Legal Dramas For the Summer

    ICYMI: two legal dramas of note for summertime binge watching.

    Injustice is a British series (ITV) starring James Purefoy as barrister William (Will) Travers who leaves the practice of criminal law after an important case goes awry for him. But (of course) he's pulled back by the plight of various clients, much to his wife's (Dervla Kerwan's) despair. Injustice is well acted, well plotted, and mesmerizing. The series began in 2011; it's now on to Injustice 2.  Currently available in the U.S. on Amazon Video (free to stream with Prime membership); DVDs available from Netflix or for purchase from your favorite emporium.

    Barbara's Law (original title La Loi de Barbara) is a French legal drama which aired on France 3 beginning in 2014. This show focuses on a French defense attorney with a lot of brains, confidence, and determination. She needs it; opposing counsel constantly try to undermine her. Josiane Balasko plays attorney Barbara Malo; Gerard Jugnot plays her young assistant Alexandre Laurent. Ms. Balasko left the series after the first three episodes and Gerard Jugnot took over as the central lawyer character.  A clever, sharp, show somewhat reminiscent of the short-lived David E. Kelley series Harry's Law because of the strong female characters. Again, available on Amazon Prime. I didn't see any English language subtitles as I was watching; there must be a way to invoke them because on the Amazon page, people complained about the subtitles (either they went by too quickly and/or they were inaccurate). 

    A New Issue of NoFo Is Available (No. 13, 2016)

    Via Monica López Lerma, Editor, NoFo, and Visiting Assistant Professor, Reed College:

    The new issue of NoFo is available (No. 13, 2016). Here is the content:


    Here and Now: From ‘Aestheticizing Politics’ to ‘Politicizing Art’

    The Paradigm Case: Is Reasoning and Writing in Film Studies Comparable
    To (or With) Reasoning and Writing in Law?

    Law as Record: the Death of Osama bin Laden

    Forever Again: How Discursive Strategies Re-legitimate Torture in the US Senate
    Select Committee’s ‘Torture Report’ and the CIA’s Response

    Writing Contagion as Cancer: Law, Gender and HPV Vaccination in Australia

    Charity Law and Religion—A Dinosaur in the Modern World?


    Jill Stauffer: Ethical Loneliness. The Injustice of Not Being Heard.
    Columbia University Press, New York 2015.

    Alison Young: Street Art, Public City. Law, Crime and the Urban Imagination.
    Routledge, New York 2014.


    McCrudden on Portraying Human Dignity Through Law and Art

    Christopher McCrudden, Queen's University Belfast, School of Law, and University of Michigan Law School, is publishing On Portraying Human Dignity in Menschenrecht (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2016). Here is the abstract.
    This article considers what, if anything, the use of Velázquez’s painting Las Meninas contributes to understanding of the conception of human dignity, drawing on several of Velázquez’s other paintings, including Juan de Pareja, The Buffoon Sebastián de Morra, El bufón Calabacillas, and Francisco Lezcano (El Niño de Vallecas). The work of Avishai Margalit, Emmanuel Levinas, and Hans Joas is drawn on to provide a theoretical structure for this endeavor. More broadly, I continue a conversation in the legal academy on how far resort to art forms such as literature and painting may help us understand problematic concepts in law and moral philosophy.
    Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

    June 27, 2016

    Call For Papers: 2016 Law & Society Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference

    From the mailbox:

    Disruption, Temporality, Law:
    The Future of Law and Society Scholarship

    2016 Conference of the Law & Society Association of Australia and New Zealand

    30th November - 3rd December 2016

    Call for Papers closes: 30th June 2016

    The Call for Papers for the 2016 Law & Society Association of Australia and New Zealand Conference, hosted by the Law Futures Centre and Griffith Law School in conjunction with the Southern Cross University School of Law and Justice closes on the 30th June 2016. Details of the call for papers are attached.

    We are also pleased to announce the following confirmed keynote speakers:
    • Professor William MacNeil, The Hon John Dowd Chair in Law, Dean and Head, School of Law and Social Justice, Southern Cross University
    • Professor Irene Watson, Research Professor of Law, School of Law, University of South Australia
    • More keynote announcements to come!
    The conference will open on the evening of Wednesday 30th November with a public debate on "The Future of Legal Education". Confirmed debate participants include:
    • Professor Margaret Thornton, ANU College of Law, Australian National University
    • Bill Potts, President, Queensland Law Society & Founding Director, Potts Lawyers
    • John Briton, Former Legal Services Commissioner, Queensland
    • Professor Reid Mortensen, Head of School, School of Law and Justice, University of Southern Queensland
    • Magistrate Jacqui Payne, Queensland Courts
    • Professor Charles Sampford, Director of the Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law, Griffith University
    Submission of Proposals:
    Please submit proposals for papers, panels or streams to LSAANZ2016@griffith.edu.au. Proposals should consist of a short abstract (max. 250 words), 3 keywords and a short biography (100 words). Panel proposals should include a title/theme for the panel, and abstracts, keywords and biographies for each presenter.

    We looking forward to welcoming you to Brisbane.

    The 2016 Conference Organising Committee.

    Professor John Flood, Dr Timothy Peters, Dr Edwin Bikundo, Mr Shahram Dana, Dr Roshan de Silva Wijeyeratne, Associate Professor Susan Harris-Rimmer, Ms Heron Loban, Dr Jennifer Nielsen, Professor Charles Sampford and Ms Kandice Cherrie.

    For Conference enquiries email: LSAANZ2016@griffith.edu.au

    Lerner on The Troublesome Inheritance of Americans in Magna Carta and Trial by Jury

    Renee Lettow Lerner, George Washington University Law School, has published The Troublesome Inheritance of Americans in Magna Carta and Trial by Jury at Magna Carta and its Modern Legacy 77-98 (Robert Hazell and James Melton eds., Cambridge University Press 2015). Here is the abstract.
    Many Americans insisted on their traditional rights as Englishmen in the conflict with Britain before and after declaring independence. Magna Carta — particularly the provisions concerning the “law of the land” and “judgment of his peers” — embodied fundamental rights of Englishmen that American revolutionaries were willing to fight to protect. As Edward Coke had found more than a century before, American revolutionaries understood that invoking such an ancient document inspired resistance to authority. Americans cherished Magna Carta most because of its association with jury trial. Juries had proved useful to Americans in their conflict with Britain. Colonial American juries had nullified the law of seditious libel, customs taxes, and debts to British merchants. It was no wonder Americans held the jury in high esteem, at least until they had to run their own governments. Americans filled their constitutions, both federal and state, with rights to jury trial. Several American states even included translations of provisions from Magna Carta in their constitutions, enshrining the “judgment of his peers.” Once Americans had achieved independence and formed the new republics, judges faced the task of interpreting these thirteenth-century provisions as eighteenth- and nineteenth-century law. American judges quoted Blackstone and historical treatises. Through the nineteenth century, however, American enthusiasm for juries waned. The much-repeated phrases from Magna Carta became a flimsy screen, masking the steady decline of jury power.
    Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

    June 24, 2016

    James On Law and Paper Clips

    Robert A. James, Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw, Pittman, LLP, has published The Jurisprudence of Paper Clips at 19 Green Bag 2d 249 (2016). Here is the abstract.
    To transfer rights in a check or promissory note, the holder may sign (or "indorse") the document. If there is no space for another signature, one may use an "allonge" -- a second piece of paper that is "attached" to the first piece. 33 years ago, the author surveyed the court cases that considered how firmly the pieces of paper must be attached to each other -- requiring judges to evaluate paper clips, staples and other instances of humble technology. His decades-old draft article is newly published, both for its content and as a spur to other authors to unearth and reveal their own incomplete efforts.
    Download the article from SSRN at the link.

    Incomplete efforts. Well, that's why I love paper clips, staples, that sticky note paper product, Liquid Paper...

    June 23, 2016

    Research Assistant Position Available on Roman Legal Thought (Remote Work)

    From the mailbox:
    Research Assistant sought for approximately 120-150 hours of remote work on Roman Legal thought. Some familiarity with Roman law, particularly in the Eastern provinces, is desirable. Compensation is $21.33-$26.67 CAD depending on highest degree achieved. 

    Research is for a project that engages ancient Jewish legal thought in its Roman context from a Law & Humanities perspective. 

    Work can be done from anywhere in the world as long as the researcher has access to library materials. Work must be completed before April 30, 2017. If the hours are completed before October 1, 2016, there is the possibility of applying for a top-up grant for an extra 50 or so hours. Checks can be issued in Canadian or US dollars. 
    Please contact  chaya.halberstam@uwo.ca if you are interested!

    From Chaya Halberstam
    Associate Professor
    Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies
    King's University College at the University of Western Ontario
    286 Epworth
    London, Ontario N6A 2M3 CANADA
    (519) 433-3491 x 4367
    fax (519) 433-0353

    June 22, 2016

    Roehampton University Doctoral Fellowship In Renaissance Studies Available

    A Phd scholarship (fully-funded) in Renaissance Studies area of London theatrical culture and related studies during the period 1565-1595, is available from Roehampton University. More information is available here, from the Before Shakespeare blog.

    Via Prof. Andy Kesson @andykesson, Jean Noel Vandaele @jnvandaele, and Will Tosh @will_tosh.

    Thaler @SFriedScientist on Doing Science and Writing Science Fiction

    Andrew Thaler, the CEO of Blackbeard Biologic, a scientic consulting firm, writes here about the useful intellectual distractions (never mind the pleasures) of writing "hard" science fiction. Nice to see a STEM PhD (Duke, in Marine Sciences and Conservation) discussing the merits of the humanities.

    van Rijswijk on the "Abused Aboriginal Child" In the Australian Legal Imaginary

    Honni van Rijswijk, University of Technology Sydney, Faculty of Law, is publishing Towards a Literary Jurisprudence of Harm: Re-Writing the Aboriginal Child in Law's Imaginary of Violence in the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law. Here is the abstract.
    The figure of the “abused Aboriginal child” haunts the Australian legal imaginary in ways that are both poignant and dangerous. This article examines the role this figure has played in assertions of Australian law’s violent jurisdictions, in the past and in the present. I examine the narratives that support law’s claims to authority and jurisdiction over Aboriginal communities, arguing that practices of representation — narrative, figuration, and what we might more widely think of as “law’s imaginary” — need to be interrogated and challenged, as an important means of intervening in law’s violent jurisdictions. We need to engage in what I term here a “literary jurisprudence,” in order to intervene in law’s claims to authority and jurisdiction that are based on narratives of purported harm to the Aboriginal child. “Haunting” is used to think through the significance of the legal imagination in two ways: the ways in which narratives in legal and state archives affect culture and politics; and also the role of law’s own imaginary and the ways in which its figures and narratives affect judicial outcomes, perhaps in ways that function beyond logic. To say that law is haunted by the figure of the abused Aboriginal child is to point to the affective, political, legal, and imaginative afterlife of narratives and figurations that are part of law, and which are not ended with each case or legislative regime but which, unresolved, are always living on. By way of an example of these practices, I provide a reading of harm in the novels of Alexis Wright, a leading Australian novelist, which I argue together provide an exemplary text that counters state law’s representational practices and claims. What is needed to resist the use of the child figure as the occasion for further violence, I argue, and what this reading provides, can be described as a “counter-imaginary” to law’s. This counter-imaginary re-writes law’s narratives and figures, connects that which law has separated, and makes visible that which law has occluded. In particular, each of Wright’s three novels Plains of Promise (1997), Carpentaria (2006), and The Swan Book (2013) is concerned with the relation of harm to questions of Aboriginal authority. Together, all three of Wright’s novels provide a developed counter-imaginary to law’s continuing assertions of authority over Aboriginal people based on the figure of the “abused Aboriginal child,” from the early twentieth century to the present.
    Download the article from SSRN at the link.

    New Book, A Transnational Study of Law and Justice on TV, Edited by Robson and Schulz, Due Out in October from Hart Publishing @hartpublishing

    Due out in October, 2016, from Hart Publishing:

    A Transnational Study of Law and Justice on TV (Peter Robson and Jennifer L. Schulz, eds.; Hart Publishing, 2016).

    A description of the book's contents:

    This collection examines the coverage of law and justice on television in different countries around the world. It provides a benchmark for further study of the nature and extent of television coverage of justice in fictional, reality and documentary forms. It does this by drawing on empirical work from a range of scholars in different jurisdictions. Each chapter looks at the raw data of how much "justice" material viewers were able to access in the multi-channel world of 2014 looking at three phases - apprehension (police); adjudication (lawyers), and disposition (prison/punishment). All of the authors indicate how television has developed in their countries. Some have extensive public service channels mixed with private media channels. Financing ranges from advertising to programme sponsorship to licensing arrangements. Some countries have mixtures of these. Each author also examines how "TV justice" has developed in each different jurisdiction. Readers will find interesting variations and some thought-provoking similarities. There are a lot of television shows focussed on legal themes that are imported around the world and the authors analyse these as well. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in law, popular culture, TV, or justice and provides an important addition to the literature due to its grounding in empirical data.

    Below is a table of contents for the book (provided by editor Jennifer L. Schulz), including (modest cough) the contribution of the L&H blog editor.


    1.     Introduction                Peter Robson and Jennifer L. Schulz
    2.     Australia                     Cassandra Sharp
    3.     Belgium                      Hilde Van den Bulck, Kathleen Custers and Jan Van den Bulck
    4.     Britain                         Peter Robson
    5.     Canada                        Jennifer L. Schulz
    6.     Denmark                     Glen Odgaard
    7.     France                         Barbara Villez with the collaboration of Valentin Rolando
    8.     Germany                     Stefan Machura and Michael Böhnke
    9.     Greece                         Nickos Myrtou, Stamatis Poulakidakos and Panagiota Nakou
    10.  Israel                           Itay Ravid
    11.  Italy                             Ferdinando Spina
    12.  Poland                         Zosia Zawadzka
    13.  Spain                           Anja Louis     
    14.  Switzerland                 Lukas Musumeci and Fabian Odermatt
    15.  USA                            Christine Corcos
    16.  Contributors’ Bios
    17.  Index of TV Shows
    18.  Bibliography

    June 20, 2016

    Westworld @WestworldHBO Approaches

    HBO's Westworld aired its second trailer for the series, during the latest episode of Game of Thrones (see the trailer here). The series, slated for a premiere this fall, is a reworking of the 1973 sf drama of the same name which starred Yul Brynner as the seemingly unkillable android The Gunslinger, and also featured a  number of other talented actors, including James Brolin, Richard Benjamin, and Majel Barrett.

    This time around, the tone is even darker (if that's possible); the show is "a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin." I didn't know androids had an independent understanding of sin, so it will be interesting to see how they acquire and deal with that concept. Through their programming? Through some kind of glitch? Through some kind of ritual? (Shades of Mary Shelley). Through some act of nature? (Shades of Short Circuit).

    The talented cast includes Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, and the (to my mind) underappreciated Louis Herthum, who is featured in the trailer. Nice to see that he has what looks like a major role in this series.

    I do love "law &" series...with a nice Chianti. No fava beans necessary.

    A Selected Bibliography on SF and Westworld

    Brake, Mark, and Neil Hook, Different Engines: How Science Drives Fiction and Fiction Drives Science (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008).

    Roberts, Adam, Science Fiction (2d ed.) (Routledge, 2006).

    Sobchack, Vivian Carol, Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film (Enlarged ed.) (Rutgers University Press, 1997).

    See also the new book edited by Ryan Calo, A. Michael Froomkin, and Ian Kerr, Robot Law (Edward Elgar, 2016).

    Ogleznev on Ascriptive Speech and Legal Language

    Vitaly Ogleznev, Tomsk State University Faculty of Philosophy, is publishing Ascriptive Speech Act and Legal Language in volume 28 of the SHS Web of Conferences (2016). Here is the abstract.
    In this article I explicate H. L. A. Hart’s theory of an ascriptive language as it has been developed in his influential early paper “The Ascription of Responsibility and Rights” (1949). In the section ‘Discussion’ I argue that the theory of ascriptive legal utterances, which is grounded on Austin’s and Searle’s theory of a speech act, provides the methodological basis for his analytical approach to philosophical and legal issues. In the section ‘Results’ I justify that an ascriptive is a specific speech (illocutionary) act. In the section ‘Conclusion’ the matter concerns the original linguistic formula of an ascriptive that accurately reflects its nature. This article elaborates on the interpretation of ascriptive speech acts in legal language by evaluating the influence of philosophy of language on the formation of modern legal philosophy, along with evaluating the contribution of conceptual development of legal philosophy in the speech acts theory.
    Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

    Pauli on the Use of Narrative Mediation in Immigration Law

    Carol Pauli, Texas A&M School of Law, is publishing A Whole Other Story: Applying Narrative Mediation to the Immigration Beat in the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution. Here is the abstract.
    If Donald Trump, kicking off his campaign for the White House, was saying “what everyone is thinking,” about illegal immigration, it must be that his message mirrored a narrative that already existed in the minds of his audience. That fearful story of criminals invading the U.S. borders has long been a dominant theme in the mainstream news immigration story. Like all news stories, this one focuses attention on some facts at the expense of others. Like many news stories, it draws its power from earlier, well-known tales — some as old as the Flood. This article recommends that the news media reconsider the storytelling role of journalism in light of a relatively new approach to conflict resolution: narrative mediation. Narrative mediation, simply stated, sees conflict as a kind of story. Narrative mediators approach a conflict by calling its story into question and then by looking for facts that fall outside of its plot. They use these “unstoried facts” to explore the alternative stories that such facts suggest. Then narrative mediators try to help the disputing parties write a larger, more complex, and more useful story together. This article argues that journalists — without sacrificing their professional ethics — can adapt certain processes of narrative mediation to thicken the plots of news stories, producing more comprehensive, accurate, and helpful accounts of the conflicts they cover. Although this article focuses on news coverage of immigration from Latin America, the approach of narrative mediation can be applied more broadly. Immigration conflicts are not confined to the U.S.-Mexican border or to the issues of legal status and documentation that arise there. Fearful story lines are also used in reporting conflicts over legal Muslim immigrants, including the most extensively documented of all recent arrivals, Syrian refugees. The same narratives sound again overseas. Beyond the immigration story, and across other reporting beats, narrative mediation offers tools to disrupt predictable news story lines that can result from political pressures and deadlines. These tools can free reporters to construct the stories of news in a thoughtful and deliberate way.
    Download the article from SSRN at the link.

    Cross-posted to the Media Law Prof Blog.

    Guerra-Pujol on the Law of the Law of Interpretation

    Enrique Guerra-Pujol, University of Central Florida and Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, has published The Law of the Law of Interpretation. Here is the abstract.
    Courts must resort to various theories of interpretation when there are gaps in the law or when the applicable law consists of conflicting rules or legal principles. In a new article, William Baude and Stephen Sachs claim that "interpretive rules are conceptually possible, normatively sensible, and actually part of our legal system." Alas, there is a fundamental logical flaw in their thesis: the problem of infinite regress. Specifically, what happens when there are gaps in these second-order interpretative rules themselves, or when the rules in this second-order system are themselves in conflict? Is there a third-order law (i.e. a law of the law of interpretation) to help us interpret the second-order interpretation rules, or do we have an infinite regress?
    Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

    Call for Papers: LSU Conference on Law, Authorship, and Appropriation, October 28-29, 2016

    The organizers of the LSU Conference on Law, Authorship, and Appropriation are still accepting submissions for the conference, which will take place October 28-29, 2016. A few slots for presenters remain. Please submit your proposal by July 6th if possible to allow the organizers to consider your proposal carefully.

    Call for Papers
    By Any Other’s Name: A Conference on Law, Authorship, and Appropriation
    Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA
    October 28-29, 2016
    On October 28-29, 2016, the LSU College of Music and Dramatic Arts, LSU School of Theatre, the LSU Law Center, LSU's ORED (Office of Research and Economic Development) and the Law and Humanities Institute will co-sponsor a conference on law, authorship, and appropriation on the LSU A and M campus in Baton Rouge, LA. This conference will bring together scholars, performers, and students to discuss law and authorship in the face of challenges issued by artists who engage in appropriation—the practice of taking the works of others to rethink or recreate new works.
    Some artists who engage in appropriation may describe their activities as parody, sampling, or remixing. Some artists whose work is appropriated may describe the result as misappropriation. Writers might describe the use or reuse of words variously as hommage or plagiarism. Lawyers weigh in both sides of the issue, interpreting such reuse as fair use or infringement, depending on the circumstances.

    Digital technology creates a host of new considerations, from the opportunity for a creator to license rights up-front (or not at all) to opportunities for users to create content cooperatively, either on the Web or in face-to-face settings. 
    What do such changes, in law and in aesthetics and art, mean for our understandings of authorship and the relationship between creator and audience? Do words like “author” and “creator” even continue to have meaning?
    General areas for possible paper topics include, but are not limited to:
    Appropriation, theft, or something else
    Cultural appropriation
    Defenses to copyright infringement
    Digital sampling and the law
    Fair use and specific forms of artistic expression (parody, fan fiction, other)
    History and concept of authorship
    Plagiarism and originality in creation
    Wearable technology and IP
    We encourage proposals that engage all geographic areas and historical periods.
    Together scholars and performers in the areas of free speech, copyright, and the arts to examine conflicts that arise between traditional creators of content and artists who use and/or re-use existing content to remake, remix and develop new works. In addition, the event will begin to examine some ways that the academy and the professions can educate young artists, attorneys, and students to understand these issues.  
    The conference will provide opportunities for discussion, student engagement, and active learning with leading scholars and professionals in the industry in the areas of freedom of expression, intellectual property law, and the creative and performing arts. We also envision opportunities for performances that demonstrate some of the ways artists work proactively and thoughtfully in these areas.
    To that end participants should be willing to engage with attendees in break-out and discussion sessions.
    Performers are encouraged to submit proposals. If your proposal includes a performance, please indicate what kind in the abstract.
    Paper Submission Information
    Please send abstracts of no more than 500 words in PDF or Word format to Christine Corcos at christine.corcos@law.lsu.edu or Kristin Sosnowsky at ksosno1@lsu.edu by July 6, 2016. We will make decisions by July 13, 2016.
    Some funding may be available for successful applicants. Panelists will have the option to offer completed papers for inclusion in a peer-reviewed conference volume.