Tuesday, September 12, 2006

At some point, you have to admit that Blogs have their place in legal scholarship.


September 11, 2006

Online Legal Scholarship: The Medium and the Message

Jack M. Balkin, Online Legal Scholarship: The Medium and the Message, 116 Yale L.J. Pocket Part 20 (2006). "...blogging by legal experts has intervened in the debate in a new way, helping to inform not only the public but also the mainstream media and key players about complicated issues."


Judges Cite More Blogs in Rulings

By Pamela A. MacLean The National Law Journal 09-12-2006

Judges have discovered the Internet's 600 legal blogs, citing them at least 32 times in 27 decisions over the last two years.

A blog, short for Web log, is a Web page that acts as a continuous journal of the writer's commentary, news and links to related sites. Blogs began, often as personal diaries, in the 1990s but came into their own in recent years among lawyers who use them to share with peers the latest developments in legal specialties.

The ability to burrow deeply into a specialized area of the law with continuous updates has an undeniable appeal to practitioners. This phenomenon was not lost on Ian Best, a 36-year-old law school graduate who began a blog, "3L Epiphany," as an independent study project for academic credit at Ohio State University's Michael E. Moritz College of Law. It is a taxonomy of legal blogs. Best counted them, classified them and tracked their development.

... "I am sure most judges, when they see carefully articulated logic in whatever form, in a law review or published lecture or electronic form, are inclined to evaluate it and if relevant cite it," he said. He predicted that the practice would continue to grow.

... But not all jurists are enamored of the new medium.

U.S. District Judge Sam Conti in San Francisco has been on the bench 37 years and still writes out opinions by hand. "You could probably find one to substantiate any position you want. I'd rather take my citations from appellate courts and the Supreme Court."

Anyone doing research in this area?


Interview Lawyers Who Defend Against RIAA Suits

Posted by Roblimo on Monday September 11, @02:31PM from the when-you-want-an-expert-opinion-ask-an-expert dept.

Attorneys Ty Rogers and Ray Beckerman maintain a blog called Recording Industry vs The People, subtitled, "A blog devoted to the RIAA's lawsuits of intimidation brought against ordinary working people," which was most recently linked from Slashdot on Sept. 10. They've agreed to answer your questions about RIAA suits -- and they obviously will not preface their answers with "IANAL," ["I am not a lawyer." Bob] although we must note that they cannot give specific legal advice about specific cases. For that you need to engage an attorney yourself. (Luckily, their site contains a directory of lawyers willing to defend against RIAA suits.) In any case, these guys obviously know more than the average bear (or lawyer) about how the RIAA goes about suing music fans, how to keep from getting sued by the RIAA, and how to fight back if you do get sued, so we're glad they're willing to help us learn more about this apparently endless legal mess. Usual Slashdot interview rules apply.

Is she toast? (Is this the Chairman you want,HP?)


HP's Dunn Still Trying To Place The Blame Elsewhere

from the responsibility? dept

While everyone still waits for the outcome of HP's board meetings on the fate of Chairwoman Patricia Dunn concerning her authorization to spy on other board members using questionable and most likely illegal means, Dunn continues in her effort to pass the blame onto others. At the end of last week, she tried to pretend she didn't really know about how the investigators found out the info and that the use of pretexting was embarrassing. Of course, if that was the case, then she would have said it was a problem four months ago when board member Tom Perkins pointed out how unethical it was. Instead, she found it more important to attack another board member, who had leaked some fairly inconsequential stuff to the press. The latest is that Dunn is now fighting back by attacking Perkins, and making it sound like he was the problem. She claimed that he originally "advocated even more aggressive means." What were those means? She claims he brought up using a lie detector test. Of course, there's a big difference here. You don't administer a polygraph on someone without them knowing -- and if they voluntarily agree, there's nothing illegal about that. Identity theft to obtain phone records of people seems a lot worse than asking people to take a lie detector test. In fact, it's quite likely that if the board had really brought up the lie detector test, George Keyworth would have just admitted to being the leaker. In the above link, Matt Marshall's analysis at Venturebeat is worth reading as well. He notes that, beyond yet another attempt at passing the buck, Dunn chooses her words very carefully in attacking Perkins. Besides, this is yet another attempt at deflecting blame. No matter what Perkins advocated, the method Dunn used was most likely illegal. To claim someone else wanted to be "more aggressive" (even if it wasn't) doesn't absolve her from moving forward with the plan to spy on board members.

Is anyone NOT asking questions?


Update: DOJ asking about HP spying allegations

Company is cooperating with inquires about the use of "pretexting" to search phone records

By Robert Mullins, IDG News Service September 11, 2006

The U.S. Department of Justice is asking questions about conduct by Hewlett-Packard Co. that has embroiled the technology company in controversy.

HP acknowledged in a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing Monday that it is cooperating with an inquiry by the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California into possibly illegal tactics used by investigators hired by HP to investigate news leaks from the company's board members.

HP described the U.S. Attorney's inquiry as "informal" and said the questions are similar to those asked by the attorney general of California. HP is based in Palo Alto, California. "We are cooperating fully with these inquiries," HP said in its SEC filing.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco, Luke Macaulay, said the Federal Bureau of Investigation is joining the U. S. Attorney in "investigating the processes employed" by HP.

... Also Monday, the two top ranking members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee asked HP Chairman Patricia Dunn to disclose the identities of the outside firms that conducted the investigation for the board.

... The U.S. Federal Communications Commission also is investigating HP. The FCC reportedly sent a "letter of inquiry" to AT&T Inc. asking how its customer phone records may have been accessed, according to an Associated Press report. An FCC spokesman could not confirm that.

Just some good quotes generated by actually thinking about the HP story.


[September 11, 2006]

HP case illustrates thorny issues of privacy in the workplace

(Chicago Tribune (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) CHICAGO _ If you have a job, you have no privacy when it comes to using the office computer.

... Nonetheless, the HP episode is a stark reminder that in the work force, no information, no matter how personal, is private.

"It's a very bad time to work if you care about privacy," said Lewis Maltby, president of the National Workrights Institute, an offshoot of the American Civil Liberties Union. "Technology has made it possible to monitor everything you do and say while you are at work, and sometimes at home, and there are virtually no laws that prevent employers from doing this."

Further, "no employer has ever been found liable violating the privacy rights of an employee by looking at e-mail," he said.

... "We tell our people that we are monitoring their Internet use and e-mail," said Bruce Ralph, corporate vice president for human resources at Zebra Technologies Inc. "We have them sign an IT security policy that speaks to their rights and the rights of the company regarding the policy. We've had these policies in place for some time."

But the reality is that employees have practically no rights in these matters, with one exception: the phone.

The Electronic Communication Privacy Act of 1986 prohibits employers from eavesdropping on personal phone conversations at work. But the act was written before e-mail and the Internet were thought of as communication devices, and there has been little effort to amend the laws.

"Under the prevailing law right now, if you are using any company equipment, you should have no expectations as to your right to privacy," said Julie L. Gottshall, a partner in the employment group at Chicago law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP.

... Any modern form of communication, including blogs, message boards, instant messages and even phones with Global Positioning Systems can be monitored by employers.

And the monitoring is getting more intense.

... Workers tend to be naive and think their employer needs a good reason to look at their e-mails before doing so, "but that's simply not true," Maltby said.

... But with the phone, that personal conversation disappears when the call is over. "With e-mail, that conversation is there forever and ever," Gottshall said.

About 25 percent of companies have fired workers for e-mail abuse, according to a 2004 survey by the American Management Association.


Napster to Go to give away free MP3 player with subscription

Posted by Amber Maitland

11 September 2006 - Napster has taken a leaf out of the mobile phone industry’s book and is offering new subscribers to its Napster to Go service a free MP3 player.

From 14 September, anyone who signs up on a minimum 3-month subscription for Napster to Go, Napster’s service for portable media players, will receive a 512MB Sandisk Sansa m230, which is capable of storing around 250 tracks.

A month’s subscription costs £14.95 for Napster to Go, which works like a rental service for music. As long as the user continues to subscribe, he or she can continue to download unlimited tracks to a DAP. Unsubscribe, however, and the music dies.

Think there's money in this?


Social Networking Goes Big Business

Posted by kdawson on Monday September 11, @04:02PM from the this-profile-for-sale dept. The Almighty Buck

PreacherTom writes, "It is no secret that sites like Facebook and MySpace are big hits among students. Big business is catching on to their possibilities too. Even in the wake of online stalking scandals, companies such as JP Morgan Chase, Apple, and Burger King are building whole marketing campaigns around social networking sites, to the tune of an estimated $280 million in 2006. It appears to be working: take the King, for example, who has amassed more than 120,000 'friends' that opt (for rewards) to associate themselves with his profile." These marketing drives are aimed at younger consumers, but (from the article): "About 36% of MySpace users are people aged 35-54, as are 30% of Facebook users."

Excuses, excuses


Health error suppression defended

September 12, 2006

THE New South Wales Government has defended a decision to suppress information about errors in public hospitals, saying that publishing the material will compromise patient privacy.

Laws have been amended to allow for jail terms for people who release information about "reportable incidents" in hospitals, with the Government arguing it would encourage more health workers to come forward with information about mistakes.

The Government's action was a response to a request from the Opposition for the documents under the Freedom of Information Act, newspapers reported today.

... Asked if the Government was trying to suppress information on hospital failures, Mr Hatzistergos said: "No, that is not correct, we publish that information.

"We release a report every year on these adverse events, what we don't release is the individual clinical information.

"The system would break down if these documents were put into the public."

Excuses, excuses. (I'll bet his password was “Illbeback”)


In A Politically Sticky Situation? Blame A Hacker!

from the new-strategy dept

There's some news spreading today, based on a San Francisco Chronicle article and now being passed around via Reuters, that California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's computer was hacked, and that's how a transcript of politically damaging comments were leaked to the press. What's interesting is that it seems like there are a bunch of ways that data could have been leaked -- and no one seems to give any evidence to support that the computers were hacked. It is quite possible that they were hacked, but following so closely on similar charges that came out during the Connecticut Democratic primary for the Senate race, where Senator Joe Liebermann's campaign claimed their web server was hacked (even though most now believe it was just a poor web setup by the hosting company they used), you have to wonder if claiming you were hacked is becoming an easy political way to deflect controversies. Suddenly, the story is about the hack (true or not), rather than the actual issue. It may turn out that none, one or both of these situations involved actual computer hacking, but it is interesting to see how the hint of "hacking" (even without any details) becomes a big story so quickly.

Once we eliminate the “right” to discuss child porn (like the sentence I'm writing now) we can start eliminating other topics we find irritating.


UK Charity Wants To Make Pro-sucide Web Sites Illegal

September 11, 2006 9:35 a.m. EST Mary K. Brunskill - All Headline News Staff Writer

London, England (AHN) - A UK charity is trying to make Web sites that give advice on how to commit suicide illegal. [Do you suppose they are concerned that donors might not be there when they come begging? Bob]

Are fines the best way to do this? Wouldn't it make more sense to pull their license or at least put someone in jail?


FDA Fines Red Cross for Blood Safety Violations

By Diedtra Henderson The Boston Globe 09/11/06 8:00 PM PT

The American Red Cross was hit with a $4.2 million fine after the agency was found to have failed to properly screen potential blood donors. This and other safety problems lead to the FDA's decision to fine the organization. The penalty serves "as an incentive to address the issues," said Susan Bro, an FDA spokesperson.

Interesting area. Do you suppose you can get e-receipts easily? Raises a huge issue with proving digital assets existed, what the value was/is, etc. A job for an expert in virtual law?


How Good Is Your Insurance Policy On iTunes Downloads?

from the iNsurance dept

As more of our assets take a digital form, questions about defining ownership and property rights have become quite complex. Many in the entertainment industry have taken a contradictory stance, claiming that digital assets should be treated like physical goods on issues like theft and piracy, while denying the right of first sale, when applied to such goods. A question that is bound to become an issue as people buy more digital music and movies is whether one can buy insurance for digital goods. Jerry Brito points to an article about one company, Nationwide, that has announced a new program whereby one can buy insurance for any legally acquired collection of digital music. So, if your house catches fire, and both your computer and iPod melt, you can get reimbursed for all of the money spent at iTunes. It's cool to see an insurance company recognizing the changing nature of personal assets, but this wouldn't be necessary if more services allowed users to download a file multiple times after an initial purchase. If an insurance company really wants to get creative, how about selling a policy that will reimburse you for the cost of your collection if the DRM format you bought your music in stops being supported?

Geek stuff


50 Helpful Web Design Resources

webtickle submitted by webtickle 1 day 4 hours ago (via http://www.pronetadvertising.com/articles/my-50-favorite-design-resources.html )

A list of 50 design resources with descriptions. Some of the resources include CSS galleries, usability sites, blogs, web standards sites, tools, color wheels and typography sites.

Will this political issue jump the pond, or are we pawns of the politicians?


"Pirate parties" raid Europe, US

aaaz submitted by aaaz 17 hours 53 minutes ago (via http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060911-7710.html )

The group's website lays out their goals (no English translation available). Instead of a "transparent citizenry," the group demands a "transparent government" instead, one that does not monitor the activities of its citizens at all times.

Never stand between a woman and her morning coffee! (Apparently not everyone learns from mistakes...)


Starbucks Customer Sues For $114 Million After Coupon Turned Down

from the don't-they-understand-by-now? dept

In the early web days, there were a few examples of companies sending out online coupons -- but they quickly learned the potential downsides, such as the coupons spreading much more widely than planned and/or the coupons being faked. Many companies learned to ditch online coupons altogether. One company that was a victim, back in 2002, was Starbucks. A fake online coupon for a free drink was sent around, and stores were inundated with people claiming a free drink. It's a story that even made Snopes.com -- and generated a ton of ill-will towards Starbucks. So you would think (wouldn't you?) that the folks involved with Starbucks promotions would know to be extra careful about such things. Turns out you'd be absolutely wrong. A few weeks ago, Starbucks sent out an online email coupon to some employees, suggesting they pass it on to some friends -- which they did. And those friends passed it on, and those friends passed it on, and it got posted to deal boards, and soon pretty much everyone saw it. So, Starbucks, who apparently learned nothing from the event in 2002 canceled the coupon. In this case, it was even worse than last time. In 2002, the coupons were fake. This time around they were real -- so customers are even more pissed off. However, it seems some are going a bit too far in their anger at the lack of a free drink. One customer has hired a lawyer to sue Starbucks for $114 million over the banned coupons. Yes, because she was unable to get a free drink. This seems like a lawsuit unlikely to get very far. Of course, some smart competitors have already stepped up and said that they will accept the denied Starbucks coupons. Starbucks might want to do the same thing, and make sure that every new employee in the promotions department learns about both the 2002 event and this latest one.

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