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Archive for September, 2006

When you apply to law school, they ask you to write an essay. The essay is supposed to tell the admissions board why they should let YOU in, instead of some other schmuck with better grades and/or a higher LSAT score. When I wrote my essay, I focused on the SCO v. IBM case that has been working its way through the courts since 2003. Quick summary- (1) Microsoft, through a proxy, gave SCO a bunch of cash.  (2) SCO attacked IBM and a couple of other companies, as an attempt to intimidate or silence the Linux software development community.  (3) IBM decided to fight the good fight on behalf of the little guy.

The lawsuits filed by SCO essentially represent a case study in how not to run a business, becuase they don’t have a leg to stand on. IBM’s willingness to take up the cause won them widespread praise and goodwill.  This was largely true becuase everyone knew it would be a long, ugly, drawn-out fight, but that IBM would ultimately win… providing they could muster the corporate willpower to see it through instead of just paying the blood money to make the suit go away.

So in a way, IBM’s fight for justice inspired me to apply to law school in the first place. In that sense, it’s very satisfying (and very topical w/r/t our current CivPro class material) that IBM has recently filed for summary judgment on all of the claims that are pending against it in this case. All of them. PJ says it best:

If IBM were to prevail on all its motions (of course that is a rare event indeed) then the only thing left to bring to a jury would be IBM’s counterclaims. That has to be SCO’s worst nightmare. That would mean the only questions for the jury to decide, if they found for IBM on the rest of IBM’s counterclaims, would be how bad was SCO and how much do they owe IBM?

When you start a lawsuit, this is not how you want it to turn out. What would be really interesting is if one of the dirtbags running SCO now decided to roll over and admit that the whole thing was someone else’s idea, and that they were just carrying water for Microsoft.

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Just because you’re in a public school doesn’t mean you’ve forfeited copyright in your homework. Sounds to me like a recipe for a class-action lawsuit. These kids are complaining that they are afraid it might be a “violation of privacy,” whatever that means, but when the president of the company admits

The service has grown dramatically, Barrie said, and is now used by more than 6,000 academic institutions in 90 countries. Barrie, who is president and chief executive of iParadigms, said 60,000 student assignments are added to the database daily. He said no student has ever launched a legal challenge.

There will always be a first. And since minor children generally can’t enter into a contract without parental approval, I think it’s going to be the first of many lawsuits.

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pretexting

I haven’t been paying a whole lot of attention to this HP internal spying hoo-ha.  Yes, it’s egregious, and yes, lots of very highly-paid people are going to lose their jobs as a result.  But I can’t muster the interest that some tech bloggers and corporate reporters seem to have, becuase I just don’t care about HP one way or the other.  I’ve thought for 5 or 6 years now that they were superfluous as a company, so what other people see as a shocking example of incompetence and corruption, I took pretty much in stride because I expected this sort of thing all along.

By all accounts, HP was a leader in developing the corporate culture that defined the Silicon Valley as a great place to work.  But those days are gone.  HP hasn’t made a decent home PC or laptop for the last 6 years.  In all of my interactions with their corporate sales people, they’ve been arrogant and abrasive, often totally uninterested in the concerns of their customers.  Under Carly, they were a shiny happy marketing company that just happened to sell a bunch of crap, and the emphasis of the company was on pushing the hype hard enough to distract from the inferior quality of their products.

If this scandal reveals anything, it’s that the face transplant last year didn’t cure anything.  The sickness at HP runs much deeper.  People are asking if HP can survive this scandal… My question is why anyone would even miss them.

Anyhow.  The WSJ has some of the emails exchanged by a director who quit over the pretexting and HP’s external counsel, with lots of attorney comments following.  Other noted legal blogs are following the story with great interest.  One of the commenters in the WSJ recommends firing all HP internal counsel and a tort action against the external law firm.  I ask- why stop there?  Why not just lock all the doors, fire everyone except the printer division, and sell everything that’s left to Dell?

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moving markets

another story in the news today that has nothing to do with our coursework…

Universal chief executive Doug Morris described video site YouTube and News Corp.’s social networking site MySpace as “copyright infringers” during a Merrill Lynch investors’ conference speech on Tuesday that was closed to the press.

“The poster child for (user-generated media) sites are MySpace and YouTube,” said Morris, according to a transcript obtained by Reuters. “We believe these new businesses are copyright infringers and owe us tens of millions of dollars.”

Hmmm. Them sounds like fightin words. I’m sure he has lots of proof to back that up, because otherwise making statements like that in a public forum might be slander.

But hey, who cares! They’re just a bunch of wacky kids playing on the internets! No harm, no foul, right?

“His remarks strongly suggested the company was planning to take legal action in the near-term to either prevent the illegal use of their content on these Web sites or to ensure the company is compensated,” Jessica Reif Cohen, analyst at Merrill Lynch, wrote in a note on Wednesday.

Or, maybe not. If Youtube had stock that was trading, you could bet it would take a hit after the analysts start making statements like that. ‘Legal action in the near-term’ does not sound like an attractive investment opportunity to me.

I’m not on myspace. I don’t post vids on Youtube. I don’t think I’ve ever looked at a myspace page… so I wouldn’t actually miss it at all. But that’s not the point. The point is, people are exercising abilities that have been granted to them by their 100% legal technology, and there are a large number of multi-million dollar companies looking for a way to punish people for expressing their creativity.  I guess the argument here is, if you’re being creative on your own, it’s not as likely you’re going to buy someone else’s creativity from, say, Universal.

Who is the bad guy here? I think that’s a pretty easy question to answer.

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Slashdot has an interview with some attorneys. They took questions and wrote answers about the copyright industry and its nasty habit of suing its most enthusiastic customers. This is the kind of thing I want to do on my summer vacation.

why bother? From the answer to question number 8:

The US Attorney General is on the RIAA’s side. See Statement of Interest of U. S. Dept. of Justice in Elektra v. Barker.

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a little pill

Do you hate spam? I sure do. We might get to something like this in class today, but it seems like trespass to chattels is the least of his worries.

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three more years

three more years until i graduate, and i’ve already been replaced by a law robot.

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