Sorry, My Amicus Briefs Only Work Against Chaotic Evil

Commenter Harry Lewis, on the Google Books settlement:

The proposed settlement includes a “most favored nation” provision. The parties agree that IF the Authors and Publishers ever come to terms with another party who is scanning books, Google has to get the same deal. That is an anti-competitive provision that will make it impossible for anyone else ever to underprice Google. If the Court adds its signature to the deal, it is sanctifying the creation of a monopoly.

Driven by despair, or perhaps fragile hope, my old classmate Sam Mikes responds with poetry:

The law condemns the man or woman
who steals the goose from off the common
but lets the greater villain loose
who steals the common from the goose.

One thing is clear: Brewster Kahle is going to need all the help he can get if he’s going to slug it out with Google. So what are our most prominent knights of the commons doing to assist us in our hour of need? I sauntered on over to Larry Lessig‘s place to see what he thought about the original settlement in October.

Oops, looks like Lessig’s in the tank.

Maybe the EFF… hmm, no. They’re a little more measured, but they don’t seem all fired up to go after Google either.

Being a Paladin of the law is tough work, I guess.

Time for Some Good Old-fashioned Embezzling

Today I received the following mail from Amazon:

Dear *****,

Greetings from the Amazon Honor System.

We wanted to let you know that we have initiated transfer of the
balance of your Amazon Honor System account to your checking account.
It may take your bank several business days to record the transfer.


Here is the receipt for the transfer:
Date: 07-Apr-2009
Amount: $1.40
Last Digits: ****

Your Amazon Honor System balance will be automatically transferred to
your checking account every 14 days. You may also transfer the funds to
your checking account manually if your account balance is at least $1.00.

To view your account summary at any time, visit:

Thank you for participating in the Amazon Honor System.

Best regards, Customer Service

At first, I was like, “whaa-a?” But then I remembered — oh yeah, the Amazon Honor System! It was all the rage six, seven, eight years back. Remember how all those warbloggers in late 2001 had these plaintive little buttons in their sidebars, “Hi, $username! Please donate to this blog!” (I was like, whoa, freaky! How is this blog talking to me?)

Well, all good things come to an end, and it looks like the payment system that helped launch the blogosphere as we know it — thanks Amazon! — is finally shutting down.

I had to scratch my head to remember why I was getting a notification from Amazon. I mean, I’m not a pathetic warblogger — I can actually afford to pay for my website my own damn self. But then I remembered… the infamous Save Ken Lay campaign of 2002! Against all odds, it turns out that people were not immune to Linda Lay’s heartfelt plea about her husband’s plight. These generous souls managed to scrape together a grand total of $1.40 to help Mr. and Mrs. Lay in their hour of need. I think we’ve all learned a lesson here: never underestimate the power of the Internet to help people come together and make the world just a little brighter.

Unfortunately, it appears the Lay family’s hour of need is long past. So I think I’ll be spending that money on beer instead.