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Quote of the Day - The 10 Commandments contain 297 words. The Bill of Rights is stated in 463 words. Lincoln's Gettysburg Address contains 266 words. A recent federal directive to regulate the price of cabbage contains 26,911 words. - Unknown
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Lawyer2Lawyer Internet Radio Honors The 200th Birthday Of America's 16th President

Abraham Lincoln has become synonymous with the American Civil War and the abolition of slavery. Please join me and my fellow Law.com blogger and co-host Bob Ambrogi as we welcome Lincoln historians Professor Paul Finkelman from the Albany Law School and Professor Jennifer L. Weber, assistant professor of history at the University of Kansas, to discuss the legacy of the first Republican president on his 200th birthday.

Give a click below and listen to this historic program



Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 21:20. Comments Closed (0) |

Author's Guild v. Google Settlement Discussion In LA Tonight

The Author's Guild will host an event tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Century City for its members to meet and greet, as well as explain the mechanics of its settlement with Google over alleged copyright violations for scanning and making available copyrighted books.  Not all members agree with the settlement, believing instead that copyrights are meant to be shared, so it should be a lively disussion.  Look for me tonight - I'll be the guy with the closely-cropped, almostly-grey beard.

The settlement promises to get ad revenue funds from Google into the hands of publishers and authors.  For out-of-print authors, the settlement is a boon - they will receive 100% of the publisher/author split.  Google will retain 37% of the revenue and the Book Rights Registry will take a small fee, with the rest split 65% to the author and 35% to the publisher for in-print books.  Some $125 million will reportedly be distributed by Google to authors and publishers.

For in-print books, both the publisher and the author must agree in order to allow Google to scan the book and make it searchable.  Out-of-print authors can also opt-out by going to the Book Registry.   MIPTC's book, How to Get Sued, is not scanned by Google because Kaplan Publishing (well, and me too) wants you to buy it from a bookseller or online, say at Amazon



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, February 17, 2009 at 06:43. Comments Closed (0) |

Colorado Lawmaker Upset Over Anti-Smoking Ad: You Be The Judge

Anti-smoking efforts across the country led to banishing cigarettes and cigars in airplanes, buildings, restaurants and a host of other places.  The ban is supported by many (including MIPTC) and vilified by smokers.  As part of the overall anti-smoking campaign, various advocacy groups have created ads intended to turn the tide against smoking. 

Although this advertisement is apparently not objectionable to Colorado lawmaker Don Marostica, R-Loveland, one of my favorite anti-smoking ads is,

Mind if I smoke?

Mr. Marostica was, however, offended by this anti-smoking ad from Britain's Department of Health, NHS Choices:

British anti-smoking ad

The text in the ad reads:  "Smoking damages the tissues in your penis. There are over 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke. Some of them damage your arteries, including the parts that keep you hard. If they go floppy, so do you.  Still want to inhale?"  NHS's website offers further information.  Advertisements in England and Europe tend to be more direct than advertisements on the U.S. side of the pond, but this ad seems tame in comparison to some European ads I've seen, and certainly not as offensive as death.

According to Tim Hoover's blog, PoliticsWest, in the Denver Post, second-term Representative Marostica said to fellow member of the Colorado House of Representatives, "I want to alert all of you, the material is so offensive I can't put it up on the screen."  Health lobbyist Stephanie Steinberg, the Executive Director of Smoke-Free Gaming of Colorado showed the ad to members of Mr. Marostica's staff, who thought it was funny and asked for copies. The Representative has asked the Colorado House Speaker to determine whether the circulation of the ad to his 19-year-old staffers was an ethical breach or just bad judgment, according to the Rocky Mountain News in an article entitled:  "Did Smoking Flier Hit Below The Belt?"

For her part in the fracas, Ms. Steinberg is nonplussed according to the RMN, "That's hysterical. I have pictures of diseased lungs. Would he be offended by that, too? I'm a health advocate, and I want to talk about health."  All Colorado lawmakers will likely receive copies of the ad courtesy of Ms. Steinberg.  She might want to include this American ad featuring a modern version of the Marlboro Man, who died in 1992 from lung cancer:

Marlboro man impotence ad

Perhaps part of the Representative's frustration arises from his efforts to introduce a bill to allow cigar bars to open, creating a loophole in Colorado's inside-a-building smoking ban.  Opponents to the bill claim it would create an exception that would swallow the whole and allow restaurants to allow smoking.

Like all issues, the answer likely falls somewhere in the middle.  As part of the Noble Experiment attempted around the world, America tried and suffered through prohibition for thirteen supposedly dry years starting in 1920, only to find speakeasys open up across the country.  When you try to ban a popular vice, those who enjoy it will find a way to do so, even if illegally.  Realizing the foolishness and our ineffective efforts to ban the consumption of alcohol, prohibition was repealed.  We don't need to go that far with the smoking ban.  Allowing separate cigar and cigarette speakeasys is a fair accommodation to those who wish to smoke. 

Representative Marostica's efforts to allow cigar smokers to congregate together to enjoy a cigar and perhaps a scotch should be applauded, and Colorado, like California, may want to consider and debate the language of a bill to allow like-minded people to smoke inside a building - as long as it does not affect those who wish to refrain from smoking or be exposed to second-hand smoke. 

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em - as long as you're outside or inside not bothering someone who doesn't want to smoke or be exposed to second-hand smoke. 



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, February 14, 2009 at 10:14. Comments Closed (0) |

Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Discusses Justice Ginsburg's Health Scare

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently underwent surgery for "early-stage" pancreatic cancer. While everyone is concerned about Justice Ginsburg's health first, there is also speculation about a possible opening on the U.S. Supreme Court if she retires early. Please join me and my fellow Law.com blogger Robert Ambrogi along with Attorney Patricia A. Millett from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and contributor to the SCOTUSblog together with Professor Cruz Reynoso from UC Davis School of Law and former California Supreme Court Justice, to discuss the impact on the high court and how the Obama adminstration would fill a possible vacancy.

Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 09:01. Comments Closed (0) |

Unintended Consequences Of Transferring Title To Property In And Out Of An LLC

You May Have Just Voided Insurance Coverage

So your lawyer says, "Form an LLC to hold your property," and being the good lawyer that she is and you being the good client that you are, you form a limited liability company and transfer your real property holdings into the name of the LLC.  You're well on your way to building your real estate empire.

Who needs the Seven Secrets of How to Make Money Investing in Real Estate for three easy payments of $39.99?  You've just learned Secret Step No. 1 for free!

And no, as far as I know, there is no such thing as "Seven Secrets ..."   I made that part up just to make a point, but then you already knew that, didn't you?  Enough of getting sidetracked.  Let's get back to the story.

So, also being the prudent real estate investor that you are, you buy title insurance on the property you've now placed in the LLC.  In case you weren't paying attention before, that's Secret Step No. 2.  Feel free at any time during this lesson to send in your first payment.

And it's a good thing you did buy that title policy, because now your neighbor claims that easement you supposedly owned over his property is invalid.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves too far here.  In the meantime (somewhere between Secret Step No. 1 and Secret Step No. 2  you decided to refinance the property like the rest of the country and get some cash out.  In order to accomplish that refinance, however, your banker said, "We don't loan money to LLCs, so you're going to have to transfer that property out of your LLC and into your individual name or the name of your trust."

Or he said something like that, especially in a deep voice.

So, now you dutifully transfer the property out of the LLC and into the name of your family trust.  After all, your banker is smarter than your lawyer, isn't he?  Perhaps not.  Now that your neighbor is upset with you over that easement, you figure it's time to submit the claim to the title company and let them handle it.  After all, that's what you paid for, right?

There's just one little problem.  Well, maybe two little problems.  Actually, let's make that two big problems.

First, the title insurance policy was issued in the name of the LLC.  Second, you made the transfer of the title to the property without notifying the title company. 

That, or something very close to it, is what Patrick Man Lee Kwok and his wife Maria Oi Yee Kwok did.  Actually, they voluntarily transferred the property out of the LLC into their family trust (again not notifying the title insurance company) due to some construction activity, but my point is the same no matter what the mechanism used.

By now, you see the problem.  When the Kwoks submitted their title claim to the title insurance company, the title company essentially said, "Who are you?  You are not our insureds.  Your LLC is our insured, and it doesn't own the property anymore or have an interest in the property." 

Or something like that, especially in a deep voice.

The appellate court that heard the case agreed with the title company and denied coverage to Kwoks.  So, if you're transferring property in and out of an LLC for any reason, check your title insurance coverage. 

And by the way, don't forget to check your business or homeowners insurance policy, earthquake policy and flood insurance policy.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 21:33. Comments Closed (0) |

Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Gets Techie

Want to know what's hot in technology from LegalTech NY 2009? Please join me and my fellow Law.com co-host Bob Ambrogi , as Bob reports from Legal Tech NY 2009. Bob will walk the floors of LegalTech NY, check out the latest in technology and fill us in on the stand-out tech stars!

Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, February 05, 2009 at 11:13. Comments Closed (0) |

How Much Is A Typo Worth? How Do You Spell Verizon?

If you're like a lot of people who let their fingers do the walking through the Internet, then you likely know how easy it is to end up at the wrong website due to a typo.  Verizon certainly knows, especially because many people mistype it as "Verison" or even "Vaerizon," according to the company.

When you end up on that wrong website, several things typically happen in a very short period of time.  First, you learn that you're trapped there due to some fancy HTML code that disables your back button, commonly based on a tricky programming technique called an onUnload event, if you really want to know.

The technique both prevents you from going back and if your browser figures out how to avoid it, then the website programmer adds in a forward command, which takes you right back to the page with the typo name.

While not for your benefit, you've just clicked on the typo page at least two more times, driving up the typo page's website statistics, which advertisers use to pay for real estate on the page.

If all this seems utterly boring or highly technical, hang on for a minute.  I'll get to my point.

It's all about the money.  But since you already knew that, what's your hurry?  Stick with me here now.  Don't hit the back button.

For Verizon, the problem lies in the virtualness of the Internet and the fickle nature of its surfers.  Think about it for a moment. 

Here's what happens:  You think you might want to buy a new cell phone like the one you saw someone else using today.  OK, well maybe not buy it right now, let's just look at it.

Right.  Verizon wireless.  That's who you use as a carrier, so off to Verizon's site you go.

But you type in "Verison" by mistake.  Your not on the Verizon webpage, but lo and behold, there's a phone that looks just like the one you saw.

Aw, forget Verizon you say - you just click on the picture.  Then you're over on Sprint's website and looking at the phone you wanted anyway. 

Cool.  Nice phone.  "I think I'll buy it," you say.  A few clicks, a new account and several hundred dollars later, and you've got yourself the newest whiz-bang gizmo phone you could have ever wanted. 

But think back.  You started out possibly buying the phone from Verizon, but instead ended up buying from Sprint, all due to a typo.

Verizon has invested a lot of money in its name and dutifully trademarked it, along with the other names attendant to the company like Verizon Wireless and the annoying, "Can you hear me now? phrase. 

Only to be defeated by a typo.  240 of them, to be exact.  That's right, there are 240 variations of Verizon that are owned by others - not Verizon. 

The people that buy up those typo names didn't just fall off the turnip truck yesterday, as my Grandpa Walker used to say.  They know what they're doing, and they're paid handsomely for it - by all those other phone companies who benefit when you and I type the URL wrong. 

So to protect itself, Verizon filed this lawsuit in Virginia seeking turnover of the URLs, $100,000 in damages from cybersquatting and even treble damages. 

We'll watch this one, but my bet is on Verizon.  They'll get all those URLs back, plus shut down the typo sites. 

All over a cell phone. 



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, February 05, 2009 at 07:38. Comments Closed (2) |

Lawyer to Lawyer Internet Radio Visits The Stars Of LegalTech NY

Want to know what's hot in technology from LegalTech NY 2009? Please join me and my fellow Law.com co-host Bob Ambrogi, as Bob reports from Legal Tech NY 2009. Bob walks the floors of LegalTech NY, check out the latest in technology and talks to he stand-out tech stars!

Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, February 04, 2009 at 22:09. Comments Closed (0) |



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