Quote of the Day - There's no reason to throw out copyrights just because you're on the Internet, ... Deal with it.
The Copyright Wars Have Gone Criminal
The FBI arrested a Los Angeles blogger for posting nine songs from Guns ‘n Roses upcoming and long-delayed album, Chinese Democracy, on his blog, Antiquet. The album has been ten years in the making and still has an undetermined release. The blogger, Kevin Cogill, a.k.a Skwerl (pronounced "squirrel"), appeared handcuffed and in his pajamas behind a glassed-in panel at the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Wednesday to answer charges of criminal copyright infringement.
Initially jailed, he is now free on a $10,000 signature bond and restricted to the confines of the Central District. Surprisingly, his access to the internet was not restricted, presumably because he voluntarily complied with the law in taking down the songs posted earlier.
The Complaint in U.S. v. Cogill has not yet been posted on the Court's website.
Skwerl's blog Antiquet reviews music, and according to the site, the FBI had been discussing the song postings with him for some time. He readily admits he posted the nine songs, which were later taken down.
He is now seeking a copyright criminal defense lawyer, if there is such a thing.
In addition to this law firm, I can think of only three or four other local firms that have copyright and criminal law experience, so it may be quite unlikely he'll find one willing to represent him. He was represented by public defender Anthony Eaglin at the hearing, and Skwerl is scheduled to appear next on September 17 at 4:30 p.m. and be arraigned on September 22 at 8:30 a.m. at 255 East Temple Street, Third Floor, in Los Angeles before a criminal duty judge.
Even if he got a lawyer, with the admission he posted on his blog, the best that's going to happen to him is a plea bargain. Otherwise, it's jail time and a fine. The penalties for criminal infringement are determined by its extent: if the infringer has made in any 180-day period ten or more copies of one or more copyrighted works with a total retail value of $2,500, the crime is a felony entailing up to five years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for organizations. 18 U.S.C. §§ 2319(a), 3571(b). Jail time can be increased to ten years for repeat offenders. It's unclear whether Skwerl previously posted other copyrighted songs but he apparently hasn't previously been convicted, so his exposure appears to be five years of jail time at most.
Infringement is a crime where it is done "willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain." 17 U.S.C. § 506(a). Recent fines levied in criminal copyright infringement cases have been as much as $250,000.
"Guns N' Roses representatives have been made aware of the arrest and are leaving the matter to the authorities," said Larry Solters, the band's spokesman. On the other hand, the RIAA is pleased: Kathy Loedler, the RIAA's director of investigations for the western region said this is "the beginning of an effort to be more aggressive. When we tell somebody to just take it down and there's no penalty, there's no arrest, there's no fine, and it's very easy for them to continue to do it."
Skwerl had previously received a cease-and-desist letter from GNR Axl Rose's lawyers, and in response took down the songs from his blog.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Missakian said the RIAA had alerted the Department of Justice to the case, and he planned to prosecute similar cases as they arose. "We take this type of crime very seriously," he said. Based on my knowledge, only one other criminal case of copyright infringement has been filed. GNR songs from the Chinese Democracy album have been leaked to the internet several times previously, but not prosecuted.
The music industry's reaction to copyright infringement is starting to look like the reaction we've seen from the movie industry for some time.
How To Get Sued Book Now Available On Amazon's Kindle
Amazon's newest gizmo-gadget, the Kindle, allows readers to download How to Get Sued and read it electronically. No longer do you have to wait in long lines at the bookstore and wonder whether Starbucks will have an even longer line. You can just download the book and get right to reading it.
Wonders will never cease.
MIPTC Has Been Hacked - Hold On For A Moment Until We Get It Resolved
Our website provider, UplinkEarth, has been hacked again and I'm beginning to wonder about the company's reliability. MIPTC's site was hacked a couple of years ago, and UplinkEarth was hacked so badly earlier this year that it shut its servers down, reconfigured them and tried again.
Looks like it didn't work.
May It Please The Court is missing blog posts from June 20 through August 20. MIPTC is completely unable to upload any audio or video files. Our companion blog by Justice William W. Bedsworth, A Criminal Waste of Space, has been completely knocked out of commission. No blog posts are showing, although the website is (barely) viewable. Both MIPTC and ACWOS are suddenly sporting unauthorized pop-ups from CPX International out of New York.
After we get this fiasco taken care of and the websites back up and running, we'll be having a chat with CPX Interactive, and may very well end up making a federal case out of it.
If anyone knows of a more reliable website hosting company, we'd be happy to hear about it and look into it. Anything's got to be better than our current situation.
I don't know what else to say other than "We apologize for the inconvenience."
How To Get Sued Goes To Hollywood in The Bronx
New York is just full of oxymorons. No kidding - I really mean it. Not the moron part, though. Just the oxy part. Think about it for a minute.
First, there's the Sopranos. They're supposed to be mafiasos, but they're named for women singers? That's what not tough guys are called. Come on. I'm talkin' to yu. Ah, fagheddaboudit.
Then we've got Wall Street. It's not a wall and it's not a street It's not even a walled street. It's a stock exchange. Sure it's on an avenue called Wall Street, but that's about as close as it gets. It's more like having Las Vegas in the Big Apple.
Next we have the universal "welcome to America" symbol, but it's really from France. We didn't even make it ourselves. What kind of welcome is that? Frankly, it's more like a hostess gift if you ask me.
Ok, can we talk about those 26 miles? It's nothing but a scheme of constant gridlock - and I thought LA was bad. We don't even have a workable subway system and I can get twice as far in half the time even though everyone in LA owns a car. No one I talked to in Manhattan owns one, but for sure there's no shortage of taxi cabs. You haven't lived, though, until you've heard a Pakistani cab driver curse out someone who cut him off. It's a ten-minute tirade of entertainment, in itself worth the ride. And I didn't even have to go to Broadway.
I've picked on Gotham enough already, but indulge me with one more: food. Admittedly we have our fair share of fruits, nuts twigs and berries out on the Left Coast, but what about those stainless steel carts on every Downtown, Midtown and West Side street corner? There's nothing that even comes close to healthy fare on those things, despite what the city permit may say. I know. I've looked. It's just fried, yellow food, that's grilled together with more deep-fried food. Nothing green is even in sight.
There's the reason there's 26 miles of clogged arteries.
Last but not least, we have the girls who popularized Cosmopolitan-drinking foursomes of women whose idea of a nature walk is to drive around Central Park in a horse carriage. Really. Here's a woman who wonders why she can't get married - but when she spots a $750 pair of Jimmy Choos in a sidewalk window responds with, "Hello, lover."
I rest my case.
Now that I've thoroughly bashed almost everything New Yorkers hold near and dear, let me redeem myself. After the media lunch, it was off to the Lehman College in the Bronx, where fellow lawyer David Lesch records Bronx Legal, a half-hour television interview featured on four channels of Manhattan's cable system. I'm honored that David invited me on the show. He's the consummate lawyer, easy to make friends with and a great interviewer.
On a show he recorded earlier in the summer, he invited Dr. Nancy, a dentist regularly featured on the Early Show to talk about the bone-dry topic of dentist recordkeeping requirements. During David's interview of her, however, we learn that they've seen each other socially, and even dated. Then, without much warning, he whips out a small black box, pulls out a Rock (capitalization intentional), and pops the question. She's shocked, and reacts with a ....
Well, just click on the video icon below and watch for yourself. No fair fast-forwarding, though.
The Initiate Gets Served Up At The How To Get Sued Media Luncheon
It's Day 2 in New York, and Kaplan Publishing is hosting a How to Get Sued media luncheon at Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse on 49th &6th in Manhattan, just down the street from Radio City Music Hall. Kaplan's Executive Director of Publicity, Michelle Patterson, will be there along with two other Kaplan mucky-mucks, Brett Sandusky Kaplan's Marketing Manager, and Tim. Kaplan's publicist for HTGS, Deborah Chase of Chase Communications will be there, too.
We're fully staffed, to be sure.
About 14 media-types have RSVP'd, I'm told, so the private room should be properly full. These folks are professional writers and frankly, it's a bit intimidating to talk about my book to them, especially since their likely much better at "the craft" of writing than I am. Plus, I'm the out-of-towner from California and this is my first-ever media lunch, whatever that may be.
In other words, I have no idea.
Certainly they do since they write for a living, they're local to NYC and publish famous magazines like Ladies Home Journal, Redbook, Vogue, Family Circle and the like, along with newspapers like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal along with some legal outlets including Your Legal Guide and a TV show, Bronx Legal.
Deborah brings swag bags with a copy of the book, the publicity materials about me, Kaplan and the hardcover book, along with a freebie belt/golf bag watch. Cool.
The restaurant has the white-linen table set, complete with a printed menu on the charger plate. It's a typical steakhouse menu: a Caesar to start, followed by filet mignon or salmon with plenty of sides and of course, cheesecake topped with strawberries. They're serving a rahther (misspelling intentional - it's phonetic) decent red and white, and servers flitter about topping everyone off. Yes, I know, it's lunch - but come on, they're writers. 'nuff said.
Soon I'm on: the publicist says I'm to hold forth about the book, the law and just about anything else that for the next two hours could possibly keep the attention of writers who we've just plied with wine in the middle of the day.
Right, I think to myself. That ought to be as easy getting a schoolyard full of screaming kids off the swing sets and monkey bars back into the classroom to take a test.
We sit down to the meal, Michelle welcomes everyone and makes introductions all around. She hands the ball off to me, and I follow the script I've been given: describe how I got started writing the book, tell some stories from it, talk about areas of the law that need to be fixed, and give some real-life war stories. It's every lawyer's (aka "frustrated actor") dream: a slightly-inebriated captive audience.
Where can I find a jury like that?
We end up having a great discussion about all of those topics and a good time was had by all, except that I missed out on the salad course - not a bite of that Caesar. But hopefully HTGS will capture some column inches as a result of the event - so be on the lookout for HTGS mentions and maybe some big media features.
I'm still waiting for Oprah to call, though.
Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Covers the School Scene
Law students are back at school, thinking ahead to the job they want once they graduate. And big firms are looking at the cream of the crop of law students.
Please join me for two different perspectives on that process. This week's guests include David Leinwand, Partner and Chair of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton's Recruiting Committee, Matthew Donnelly, third year law student at the University of Iowa College of Law and Roger Smerage, a third year law student at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. We discuss how large firms are recruiting, the interview process, the competitive environment, and what students are looking for in a firm. Hear the insights you won't get anywhere else.
When In Rome, Do As The Californians Do, Except When You're In New York
It's a How to Get Sued week in New York, and I'm on radio, several TV shows and at a media luncheon promoting my book. As a consequence, this week on MIPTC you'll see some new posts typical of the stories in the book.
But first, if you get AM radio anywhere in the country, you've likely heard of WOR Radio, and one of its late-night jocks, Joey Reynolds. I'll be on Joey's show late Monday night (technically Tuesday) at 1:00 a.m. Eastern time. WOR has been broadcasting in New York since 1922, and you may recognize some of the station's other personalities Bill O'Reilly and Dennis Miller. If you live outside the station's coverage area or don't have an HD Radio, you can tune in on the WOR radio's internet podcasts page, and we'll try to get the interview up on the How to Get Sued press page. As the week progresses, I'll provide updates for the TV shows.
So with that announcement, on to the How to Get Sued post.
Pirates of the Colosseum, complete with gladiator fights, lions and chariot races. You think I'm kidding? Rome's Deputy Mayor Mauro Cutrufo said, "the model is Euro-Disney in Paris," as he announced plans to build a vast ancient Rome theme park just outside the city. And as we all know, Euro-Disney is modeled on Disneyland in California.
It took me awhile, but I got there.
Of course, not everyone is happy. "I say no to Americanization," said Claudio Mancini, a member of the Lazio council, who obviously opposes the plan. I guess that's why the Deputy Mayor said the model was Euro-Disney, not Disneyland.
Besides, the Romans used the Colosseum for 500 years, starting back in 80 AD, and predated modern-day Disneyland by nearly 1,900 years. I think it's the other way around, actually. Walt took the idea from the Romans. At 50,000 spectators per event, the attendance at the Colosseum surely outstrips the attendance at Disneyland.
I'm all for it. Who wouldn't want to watch gladiators fight? It would be a whole new kind of reality show.
Oh, that's right. We already have American Gladiators. Since the "Colosseum" name is already taken, they could call it "Roman Gladiators." After all, the Italians had the name first.
Tired Of Spam? Here's A 100% Solution: Sendio's I.C.E. Box4:57 PM PDT, August 15, 2008
At the end of June, I went to LegalTech West and ran into a vendor, Sendio, Inc. whose display banners promised 100% no spam in my inbox.
"Right," I thought to myself as I walked by. "That's impossible." Like any lawyer, I see shades of gray, and this bold claim was certainly anything but.
So, I went up to the booth and asked a few sarcastic questions, as regular readers of MIPTC can readily imagine. I just didn't believe the claim.
"Prove it," I said.
The company rep, Nancy Chaisson, explained that their product, the I.C.E. Box is based on "verification" technology, a system that sends queries back to the email sender to confirm that the sender is a real person and not a spammer. You've likely gotten one or two of them yourself, if you've been using email for any length of time.
You know the type of emails I'm talking about: those snippy little emails that say something like, "I'm really concerned about spam and I'm making an effort to ensure that you intended to send this email to me. Respond with this code and your email will get through."
"Ugh," I thought. Just what my clients need - an email that says you can't communicate with me. I didn't want anything to stand between me and my clients, especially an impersonal email like that.
Nancy had an answer for that issue, too. She said their system would scan our firm's contact list as well as everyone's outbox and compile a list of "approved" senders. With that list programmed into the I.C.E. Box, everyone on our list would get through without verification. "But what about new clients?" I asked. As long as we send an email to the new client, they're automatically added to the list and all of their emails get through.
To prove me wrong (and perhaps garner publicity), Sendio offered to install their box on our server system. So here's my disclaimer - we got the box for free, and we're the test dummies.
The installation went smoothly, and spam emails dropped practically instantaneously. Now, the system sends each member of the firm an email first thing in the morning, and provides each of us with a link to administer the system individually. With the web-based interface, we can decide which emails to allow through and which to drop. Sendio's training was very helpful and the company very responsive to our questions. Our firm members saw the installation as seamless and without the glitches typical of software and hardware installations.
Sendio's made a believer out of me, and I heartily recommend their hardware. The 100 or so spam emails I received every day are now gone from my inbox. The couple of hours that I spent dealing with that trash just disappeared.
That reduction alone is worth the cost of the I.C.E. Box. Now I get to spend my time productively responding to client emails, not wondering whether I may have just won a cruise or inherited $50 million dollars.