May It Please The Court: Weblog of legal news and observations, including a quote of the day and daily updates

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Quote of the Day - A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death. - Albert Einstein
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Ethical Seach Engine Optimization for Solos and Small Firms

Avvo.com is hosting a one-hour lunch webinar on September 10, 2008, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. Pacific time.  That's three o'clock to four o'clock in the afternoon for you folks on the East Coast.  Space is limited, so reserve your Webinar seat now by registering here.  The password for the program is Avvo.  Regular readers will remember that I'm on Avvo.com's Advisory Board, so that's why I'm promoting this webinar. 
 
The webinar will feature an introduction to SEO for the solo and small legal firm geared towards a non technical audience.  Avvo will uncover challenges and opportunities unique to the small law firm.  The hour long session will:
   -review SEO fundamentals
   -highlight common mistakes
   -reveal unethical practices which may get a site penalized
   -end with 10 things you can do in under 10 minutes to improve your site's SEO performance.   



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, September 03, 2008 at 13:25. Comments Closed (0) |

Tattoo Horror Story

The question begins thusly: "I went to a tattoo studio and asked for Chinese characters that say ‘courage, strength and unity'; the tattoo artist assured me he was a native speaker and would translate the sentence accurately."  Read the rest of "Tattoo Horror Story" and all the possible causes of action.  As a member of Avvo's Advisory Board, I answered this question on its Avvo Answers website, but omitted one possible cause of action from my answer.  I followed up with Avvo in an email - this individual can also sue for libel.

This story is one for How to Get Sued.

______________

Reprinted with permission from the Avvo Blog (and slightly edited for MIPTC).



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Friday, August 29, 2008 at 00:02. Comments Closed (0) |

Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Takes the Train

 It all started when three MIT students put together a presentation for their Network Security Class at MIT about their findings regarding the security vulnerabilities of Boston's Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) Charlie Card and Charlie Ticket. After FBI involvement and a temporary gag order placed on the students, the MBTA sued the students and MIT in United States District Court in Massachusetts.

Please join me and my fellow Law.com blogger and co-host Bob Ambrogi as we discuss this case with Tuna Chaterjee, a fellow at the Berkman Center and a Staff Attorney with the Citizen Media Law Project and Attorney Marc Randazza, First Amendment attorney with the law firm of Weston, Garrou, Walters & Mooney. Then we will take a look at the legal issues involved in MBTA v. Anderson, the rights of these students, the MBTA's reaction, the lawsuit filed, First Amendment issues, security issues and what the future holds for these students.



Podcast 

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Thursday, August 28, 2008 at 15:33. Comments Closed (0) |

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.

His girlfriend, Britney Bernstein, who waited along with Antiquet co-blogger Johnny Firecloud at the hearing said only, "Rally the troops."  Her posts are available on the Antiquet blog.

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.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Wednesday, August 27, 2008 at 09:34. Comments Closed (0) |

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.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 14:25. Comments Closed (0) |

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."



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Monday, August 25, 2008 at 13:05. Comments Closed (0) |

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 requirementsDuring 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.



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Sunday, August 24, 2008 at 18:36. Comments Closed (0) |

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. 

<Sigh.>



Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, August 23, 2008 at 17:38. Comments Closed (0) |



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