Posts from law

Next Wednesday Is The Internet Slowdown

We’ve talked a lot here at AVC about Net Neutrality. I hate that term because it’s got so much baggage now that it is essentially meaningless to me. What I want to see is a framework that everyone agrees to (application developers, bandwidth providers, last mile access providers, and the regulators) that says you can’t prioritize one bit over another in the last mile access network and you can’t charge application developers to deliver their bits to the end user.

This issue is coming to a head at the FCC as the comment period is ending and some sort of decision will be made this fall. So next Wednesday, September 10th, is the Internet’s opportunity to stand up and be heard.

If you are with me on this issue, please consider joining the Internet Slowdown campaign next Wednesday. There are all sorts of ways you can do this. You can change your avatars on your social media profiles, you can send push notifications if you operate a mobile app, you can put a slow loading graphic on your blog or website (there are WordPress widgets if you are on WordPress like I am).

And if you still aren’t convinced, please read Chad Dickerson’s piece in Wired this week on why this issue is important to businesses and everyone who uses the Internet to reach their customers and/or audience.

Is Coding Speech?

We got into an interesting discussion yesterday at USV during our analyst interview process. A candidate said that he believes coding is speech and so applications should be protected like speech is protected.

Of course, not all speech is protected and not all code should be protected. I went to Wikipedia this morning and read a bit up on the law on this. From the “hate speech” page on Wikipedia:

Some limits on expression were contemplated by the framers and have been read into the Constitution by the Supreme Court. In 1942, Justice Frank Murphy summarized the case law: “There are certain well-defined and limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise a Constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous and the insulting or “fighting” words – those which by their very utterances inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.”

I suspect we can all come up with examples of code that would not be protected. Malware being the prime example.

I’m curious if there is case law on protecting code as speech and also if there is any case law that defines what kinds of code would not be protected.

To all the lawyers in the AVC community, can you educate us on this? I’m curious and I suspect others are too.