LA Times Embarrasses Itself With Kozinski Coverage

from the digital-dumpster-diving dept

Last week we wrote about the hoopla surrounding some racy images and videos Judge Kozinski had accidentally made public on his personal web server. This week, it was announced that a panel of federal judges will be investigating Kozinski's conduct. I don't understand why an investigation is needed because it's pretty clear what happened, and that Kozinski did nothing wrong. My colleague Jim Harper links to a defense of Kozinski by Larry Lessig. I share Lessig's conclusion that the treatment of Kozinski has been disgraceful, but I don't think the analogy Lessig uses is especially apt. Lessig analogizes the situation to a man who climbs into Kozinski's den through a poorly-secured window and makes copies of the materials he finds within Kozinski's house. He also uses the term "hack" to describe the process of accessing Kozinski's files. I don't think this is quite right. It was a public web server; the files were readily available without a password to anyone who went looking for them. What was done to Kozinski was unsavory, but it wasn't illegal, and it's not analogous to breaking and entering.

A better analogy is dumpster diving. What happened was the digital equilvalent of somebody combing through Kozinski's trash and discovering an issue of Playboy. No respectable respectable newspaper would publish a front-page story about finding porn in a federal judge's trash. It's no more newsworthy that Kozinski inadvertently made some racy images available on his personal website. Kozinski's wife, Marcy Tiffany, wrote a letter about the affair that's well worth reading in full. She claims (and others agree) that the files were unearthed by an attorney with a grudge against Kozinski, who obtained the files months ago and has been shopping them around to different newspapers ever since. The LA Times apparently had this story months ago, but waited until Kozinski had finished the grueling work of impaneling a jury for a big obscenity case (it's hard to find a dozen people willing to watch hours of defecation and bestiality videos) before putting the story on its front page.

Even worse, the LA Times coverage appears designed to cast the material on Kozinski's computer in the worst possible light. For example, it describes one video as depicting "a half-dressed man cavorting with a sexually aroused farm animal." This description prompted a number of follow-up reports, including one in the San Francisco Chronicle, to describe the contents of the video as "bestiality," despite the fact that the video in question obviously doesn't depict bestiality. (The Chronicle story was here, but the word "bestiality" has since been deleted) The LA Times really ought to apologize to Judge Kozinski for needlessly dragging his reputation through the mud.

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Filed Under: alex kozinski, coverage
Companies: la times


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  1. identicon
    Lloyd Shugart, 20 Jun 2008 @ 6:25pm

    Morality or Free-riding


    I am just sorry that the Honorable Judge Kozinski, especially his wife, and family have to become victims, of something so patently wrong with society. Hope that one day you never find yourself in front of the Public, having to attend to such.

    Is this issue the change in morality of society? When Thomas Jefferson penned the constitution, his belief was that most were moral, and the laws should address the same.
    To be shunned by the members of your society was at that time, a punishment that most respected. There was a need for law & punishment(public flogging in the square stockade) to effectively deal with those who lacked morals, and respect of others properties.

    In this day and age of Free-riding, society loses.

    First I am not deluded in belief that morals equals manners or the vise versa. Nor do I believe that ones own morals should be the rule of others. My family http://studio413.blogspot.com were staunch abolitionist at the dawn of this great country. They had different ideas about many issues confronting society then, yet they only sought to empress their ideas around freedoms due all of man, certainly not implicating that all should live as they did, in all ways.

    That being said , I believe as they did. Yet as Mr. Jefferson recognized you can't legislate your own morals, and that morals are not in fact just ones own, but are those that the benefit the greater society.

    I feel that there is a growing disrespect for people and their properties, and the idealism that if you don't (opt-out of public domain) lock it away, that society at large is welcome to take as they please.

    I believe in the Public Domain, and in fair use....I don't believe in stretching those in ways that congress never intended, in either direction.

    For those whom advocate a free everything on the net...this may just be the issue that brings Judicial Notice, to why it's wrong for society.

    Morals http://williampatry.blogspot.com/2008/06/gender-and-copyright.html

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