Future Conduct and the Limits of Class-Action Settlements – James G.
The coruscating James Grimmelmann recently published a crisp, clean exorcism of “future conduct” releases in class action suits, in the North Carolina Law Review. Using a number of recent class actions as motivation, including the Google Books case, he patiently and eloquently dissects the ideas behind such carte blanche releases, and the rare cases in which they might be called for.
This is a gem of a monograph – worth reading even if you are not a copyright geek.
From the opening salvo (emphasis mine):
This Article identifies a new and previously unrecognized trend in class-action settlements: releases for the defendant’s future conduct. Such releases, which hold the defendant harmless for wrongs it will commit in the future, are unusually dangerous to class members and to the public… [F]uture-conduct releases pose severe informational problems for class members and for courts… create moral hazard for the defendant, give it concentrated power, and thrust courts into a prospective planning role they are ill-equipped to handle.
Courts should guard against the dangers of future-conduct releases with a standard and a rule. The standard is heightened scrutiny for all settlements containing such releases; the Article describes the warning signs courts must be alert to and the safeguards courts should insist on. The rule is parity of preclusion: a class-action settlement may release future-conduct claims if and only if they could have been lost in litigation. [...] The Article concludes by applying its recommendations to seven actual future-conduct settlements, in each case yielding a better result or clearer explanation than the court was able to provide.
If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to savor all 90 pages of finely referenced background and analysis, a handy comparative timeline is on p.410, the standard and rule start on p.431, and the 7 brief case studies start on p.458.
via the Laboratorium.
The Wikidata Revolution: enabling structured data love
A year after its announcement as the first new Wikimedia project since 2006, Wikidata has now begun to serve the over 280 language versions of Wikipedia as a common source of structured data that can be used in more than 25 million articles of the free encyclopedia.
By providing Wikipedia editors with a central venue for their efforts to collect and vet such data, Wikidata leads to a higher level of consistency and quality in Wikipedia articles across the many language editions of the encyclopedia. Beyond Wikipedia, Wikidata’s universal, machine-readable knowledge database will be freely reusable by anyone, enabling numerous external applications.
”Wikidata is a powerful tool for keeping information in Wikipedia current across all language versions. Before Wikidata, Wikipedians needed to manually update hundreds of Wikipedia language versions every time a famous person died or a country’s leader changed. With Wikidata, such new information, entered once, will automatically appear across all Wikipedia language versions. That makes life easier for editors and makes it easier for Wikipedia to stay current.” – Sue Gardner
The development of Wikidata began in March 2012, led by Wikimedia Deutschland, the German chapter of the Wikimedia movement. Since Wikidata.org went live on October 30, a growing community of around 3,000 active contributors started building its database of ‘items’ (e.g. things, people or concepts), first by collecting topics that are already the subject of Wikipedia articles in several languages. An item’s central page on Wikidata replaces the complex web of language links which previously connected these articles about the same topic in different Wikipedia versions. Wikidata’s collection of these items now numbers over 10 million. The community also began to enrich Wikidata’s database with factual statements about these topics (data like the mayor of a city, the ISBN of a book, the languages spoken in a country, etc.). This information has now become available for use on Wikipedia itself.
“It is the goal of Wikidata to collect the world’s complex knowledge in a structured manner so that anybody can benefit from it. Whether that’s readers of Wikipedia who are able to be up to date about certain facts or engineers who can use this data to create new products that improve the way we access knowledge.” - Denny Vrandečić, Wikidata project lead
The next phase of Wikidata will allow for the automatic creation of lists and charts based on the data in Wikidata. Wikimedia Deutschland will continue to support the project with an engineering team that is dedicated to Wikidata’s second year of development and maintenance.
Wikidata is operated by the Wikimedia Foundation and its fact database is published under a Creative Commons 0 public domain dedication. Funding of Wikidata’s initial development was provided by the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence [AI]², the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and Google, Inc.
More information available here:
Volunteers can get involved with Wikidata in many ways. Some of the first applications demonstrating the potential of Wikidata applications, and as a platform:
- The simia “tree of life” drawn from relations among biological species in Wikidata’s database
- “GeneaWiki” generates a graph showing a person’s family relations as recorded in Wikidata. See for example: the Bach family
Pope Francis is now Q450675 : In WikiData
Wikidata, the newest Wikimedia Project, is now in very active development, and being used on all of the Wikipedias. Here for instance is the item record for Pope Francis:
Paus Fransiskus, Францыск, Папа Рымскі, পোপ ফ্রান্সিস, Pave Frans, Pápa Proinsias, Ferenc pápa, Popiežius Pranciškus, Francés I (papa), Ransisku (Tayta Papa), I. Franciscus, 方濟各 (教宗), …
A Raw Interview: Ruslan Tsarni, uncle of the Boston bombers.
Update: Dzokhar was captured alive, around 20:30 EST, after hiding in a boat in a Watertown backyard.
@Boston_Police: CAPTURED!!! The hunt is over. The search is done. The terror is over. And justice has won. Suspect in custody.
This public interview from today with Ruslan Tsarni, uncle of the Tsarnaev brothers, is impressive. It seems to be from a conclave of media who turned up on his property; and highlights what the media look like as a herd without preptime, and what a family man looks like when stripped to his instinctive graces.
“Dzhokhar, if you are alive, turn yourself in. And ask for forgiveness, from the victims, from the injured, and from those who left, ask forgiveness from these people.” ᔥ Businessweek
Arrested Friday April 19, 20:40 EST
A Horrific Day in Boston – Death and Mayhem at the Marathon
Today was a horrifying day for Boston – our annual celebration of pride, unity, and Spring put on hold for bombs and ambulances. My thoughts are with those who have been injured or killed.
We have these strange interplays of increased safety and increased risk at large public events – it seems to me there is more we could do to shift the equilibrium towards safety in numbers. Even in the face of anonymous attacks from a distance.
But today we mourn.
Wikiphilia trumps party identity, says new PLoS study
We haven’t resolved systemic biases yet, but this is one sign of the value of focusing on neutrality and a common goal:
Being ‘Wikipedian’ trumps party affiliation, study finds
The study results were discussed among researchers back in November.
ᔥ the L.A.Times
Big Data Maven On Knowledge Topology: 9 Insightful Posts
Read the Big Data and the Topologist series, from the “low-dimensional topology” blog, written by 5+ budding topologicians.
They maintain a handy list of open problems they have discussed.
The Unscrupulous Institute for Cultural Diplomacy Fails
I had never heard of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy before they started harrassing and legally threatening my friend Mako Hill. But they are clearly an organization that understands neither cross-cultural communication nor diplomacy.
There is also no possible outcome of this dispute that is in their favor. The Streisand effect can’t be reversed by filing law suits. Filing law suits will never make a diplomacy institute look good. And Wikipedia policy isn’t structured in such a way that it could ever have an article about them after this without mentioning the drama in the first place – even if enough editors one day changed their minds about notability.
Update: Cory D. was thoughtful enough to put up a note about the case on BoingBoing.
Genius And The Soil / Inspired By Aaron: Thoughts From me, mako, jwyg
From the latest issue of the UK magazine red pepper. With photos by Sage Ross from a memorable Boston Wikipedia meetup in 2009. Click on the pages for higher resolution:
Annotation Hacks: Hypothesis XXX begins to converge
The various threads around Hypothes.is, the Open Annotation spec, and the campus-wide annotation projects at MIT, Yale, and Harvard are starting to converge. It’s nice to see a future pillar of the global web take shape – with no less friction but a more diverse audience than gathered to create the early Internet specs.
I’m at the Convergence Workshop at Harvard on the topic today, and will be at the iAnnotate workshop in San Francisco in 3 weeks. Consolidating notes on a “Hypothesis XXX” hackpad. [Btw: We dearly need a fully open hackpad equivalent with more reliable uptime than piratepad et al.! I default to HP when I have a doc that needs to sustain heavy editing and be guaranteed available during a narrow window of time at a conference... but I would much rather use a Wikimedia or similarly hosted service, with a more explicit guarantee of ongoing availability, at no cost ever.]