The world’s second home

An article in the City secion of today’s Times discusses the new marketing slogan the city plans to adopt: Who You Callin’ Second?

Tien Mao, 26, grew up in Manhattan and lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. In short, New York is his home – his first and only home. Which may explain the distaste that Mr. Mao feels for “The World’s Second Home,” the phrase that could wind up as the city’s slogan, if U.S. Patent No. 78484751 is approved and the political stars align.

Can you find the glaring error in this paragraph?
This is not “U.S. Patent No. 78484751.” In order to gain protection for a marketing slogan, one must register it with the US Patent and Trademark Office. However, application is for a trademark, not a patent. In particular, the city filed trademark application #78484751.
At least “The World’s Second Home” is not quite as bad as “We’re Number 2!” What would be a better slogan to promote NYC?
Also of interest in today’s Times, a look at some enduring classics in the city: Here Is New York, Right Where We Left It: “In a city that is constantly razing the old to erect the new, or at least slapping on new paint and jacking up the price, there are quite a few places… that have remained quietly, stubbornly, implausibly the same for decades.”

Open Source Patent Policy

At ACS Blog, Sean Kellogg writes about The Open Source Approach to Patent Policy: “The past months have witnessed amazing developments in the area of software patents. First IBM, and then Sun Microsystems, announced they were granting the rights to more than 2000 patents to open source developers for use in software development. The announcement comes at a critical moment in Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) history, with some companies in active litigation over the Linux operating system and others issuing veiled threats.”

Spectrum Wars

In the National Journal, Drew Clark writes about the long-delayed transition to digital television and the broadcasters hold on extra spectrum: Spectrum Wars

The spectrum is far more lucrative today than anyone dreamed possible back in 1927, when the federal government began regulating use of the spectrum by handing out licenses to radio broadcasters to transmit their signals. And because of the airwaves’ immense value, the battle for control of the frequencies that make up the spectrum has been a premier influence-peddling bonanza in Washington.

State support for information access

To what extent should the state be subsidizing information flow and data accessibility? Some measure of state support for access to information may not only appropriate in the information economy, but likely to create public benefits and encourage innovation and economic development.
In his Wired magazine column, Lawrence Lessig discusses WWhy Your Broadband Sucks, noting that a Pennsylvania statute to prevent the state from competing with private telecommunications and broadband providers will increase prices. Leaving wireless broadband development to the private sector may stifle the development of businesses that make use of wireless access.
In the Financial Times, James Boyle notes that allowing public access to government-produced data at nominal cost has led to innovation, while charging to recoup the costs of producing that data stifles innovation: Public information wants to be free: “On one side of the Atlantic, state produced data flows are frequently viewed as potential revenue sources. They are copyrighted or protected by database rights. The departments which produce the data often attempt to make a profit from user-fees, or at least recover their entire operating costs… The other side of the Atlantic practices a benign form of information socialism. By law, any text produced by the central government is free from copyright and passes immediately into the public domain.”
The government can support businesses in the information economy by offering the lowest-cost access to communications networks and data whenever possible. In many cases, this may justify a certain amount of state subsidy.

Anonymity on the ‘net

At, Fred von Lohmann discusses the potential demise of anonymity online: Publius, RIP?: “On the Internet, your ISP knows you’re not a dog, and your adversary is only a subpoena away from compromising your constitutionally-protected right to bark anonymously.”
Dendrite International v. Doe, 775 A.2d 756 (N.J. App. 2001), offers one approach for evaluating whether a court should require an ISP to disclose an anonymous poster’s identity. The plaintiff must notify the anonymous posters and allow the anonymous poster a reasonable opportunity to file and serve opposition. The plaintiff must identify and set for the exact statements purpotedly made by each anonymous poster. The court then shall review the application to see whether the plaintiff has established prima facie cause of action against the fictitiously-named anonymous defendants. Finally, the court must balance “the defendant’s First Amendment right of anonymous free speech against the strength of the prima facie case presented and the necessity for the disclosure of the anonymous defendant’s identity to allow the plaintiff to properly proceed.”
In a Sept. 2001 NY Law Journal article, Richard Raysman and Peter Brown discuss Discovering the Identity of Anonymous Internet Posters.

Stern and the Satellite Wars

In Wired magazine: Howard Stern and the Satellite Wars: “By taking his case to 12 million listeners every week, Stern is turning locker-room humor into a constitutional cause. He’s using his show as a platform to prick (as it were) the FCC’s veil of authority. Thanks to his particular talent for connecting, for making each listener feel talked to instead of at, Stern is transforming an abstract fight about rights and values into one about the guy next door, or at least the guy down the dial.”
Mediaweek reports on a survey of whether fans will follow Stern to satellite: Stern Fans Undecided On Sirius Switch: “The survey found that 22 percent planned on subscribing to Sirius to continue to hear Stern, 41 percent were undecided and 37 percent said they wouldn’t subscribe.”

The value of disclosure requirements

Bruce Schneier notes that only a California information privacy statute forced Choicepoint to disclose the fact that it shared consumers’ personal information with a group of criminals. Schneier on Security: ChoicePoint

This story would have never been made public if it were not for SB 1386, a California law requiring companies to notify California residents if any of a specific set of personal information is leaked.
ChoicePoint’s behavior is a textbook example of how to be a bad corporate citizen. The information leakage occurred in October, and it didn’t tell any victims until February. First, ChoicePoint notified 30,000 Californians and said that it would not notify anyone who lived outside California (since the law didn’t require it). Finally, after public outcry, it announced that it would notify everyone affected.

Wired News reports on a lawsuit filed against ChoicePoint: California Woman Sues ChoicePoint : “According to the filing, Goldberg seeks to hold ChoicePoint responsible for negligence in protecting the private data of consumers from scam artists who purchased it from the company. The scam continued for a year before ChoicePoint discovered what the thieves were up to.”

Not sponsored by Bill

I came home today to find an email from the executive committee of the NYC blogger cabal threatening to break my links1 if I didn’t post something about The Gates soon. It seems that I am the only NYC-based blogger yet to post something about the orange invasion. I rushed up to Central Park to see the Gates get some photos.
I don’t get it as art. As a draw to the city, however, the Gates are a major success. On Sunday, the ‘rents drove in from the ‘burbs to walk around the park and experience the gates, but found it impossible to park anywhere near the park. Apparently, everyone in the NY metro area drove in from the suburbs to see the Gates on Sunday. Today, I was surprised to so many people walking around the park at 4:30 on a weekday afternoon. If nothing else, the Gates has drawn people into the city and businesses around Central Park are probably the primary beneficiaries.
Last year, the Republican National Convention was going to be the big draw into the city. Organizers expected that the event would boost tourism revenues for the city and have a positive economic impact. The city estimated the net economic impact of the convention at $255 million. The convention led to a gross gain of $341 million in economic activity, while the City experienced an $86 million loss due to disruptions caused by the convention.
Prior to the convention, the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University estimated the convention would lead to $163 million in net economic benefits ($212 million in spending at a cost of $46 million– $19 million in lost productivity and $42 million in lost tourism spending.)
While the effects of the convention may have been net positive, businesses that rely on locals, not tourists, suffered during the convention. It seemed like every native who could left the city. Entire offices closed as people took a late summer vacation or worked from home in order to avoid the security. CBS News’ Andy Rooney finds anecdotes to suggest that the Republican convention was an economic bust.
In contrast, The Gates seems to be generating only positive economic effects and publicity. Few, if any, locals have left the city while tourists are visiting from all over the world in order to see The Gates. Central Park is much busier on a weekday afternoon in February than it would be without The Gates.
Now, Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff and Mayor Bloomberg are working feverishly to bring the 2012 Summer Olympics to NYC. Will the Olympics benefit the city? Will they drive locals away?
The government of New South Wales evaluated the business and economic benefits of the 2000 Sydney Olympics and announced that “the Sydney Games were a remarkable success that delivered on the expectations of almost all of their stakeholders, public and private.” In addition to the equivalent of $6 billion of free publicity for the city, the Sydney metro area was able to procure improved sporting, transportation and hospitality infrastructure.
Perhaps procuring the Olympics will enable the city to obtain funding to complete necessary public transportation improvements such as the Second Ave. Subway and the 7-line extension. But, is building the West Side Jets stadium worthwhile?
In Sports, Jobs, and Taxes: The Economic Impact of Sports Teams and Stadiums, Roger G. Noll and Andrew Zimbalist find that stadia are not a source of local economic growth and employment and the cost of a new stadium far exceeds any economic benefit of that new stadium. Public financing of a stadium (or of the necessary infrastructure to build a stadium) has non-economic benefits, like prestige and civic pride.
Even though the Jets stadium will be privately financed, the public will foot the cost of a platform over the rail yards and adding a retractable roof to the stadium. The total amount of public financing for this privately-financed stadium will be comparable to the total cost of a complete stadium. If the stadium is tied with the Olympic bid, can the Olympics generate enough net economic gain to recoup the cost of stadium construction?
The Gates is a rare instance of a city directly benefitting from a public art project at minimal taxpayer expense and with minimal disruption of the normal flow of the city.
Finally, here are those photos of The Gates:
Satan’s Laundromat has the best series of Gates photographs: Snowy Gates photographed by millions
Space Imaging: The Gates from Space Panorama of The Gates

Posted in NYC.