Quote of the Day - It's a lot easier for cable to get into the phone business than it is for phone companies to get into TV.
Network Digital Video Recorders Suffer Setback From Movie Studio Lawsuit
Ya gotta love cable companies. They'll try any way to make a buck. Unfortunately for you and me, this one didn't work. The movie studios say it's fortunate it didn't work, but you can be the judge. Here's the skinny: New York's Cablevision System Corp., a cable company with just over three million subscribers, rented Network Digital Video Recorders to its customers.
Sure, you say, that's nothing new, and you'd be right. But only partly right.
Cablevision's NDVR had a unique feature that no other DVR has. It connects to the servers at the cable company. Imagine a virtually unlimited library of videos. All television shows. All movies. All documentaries. OK, forget the documentaries. I was sold when they said movies. You pay Cablevision for access to their video library, and when Cablevision bought the movie, it had already paid the movie studio royalties, and presumably the movie studios then paid the actors.
At least that was the way it was supposed to work.
Until the movie studios (Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, NBC Studios, CNN and Turner Broadcasting System) sued Cablevision. Apparently Cablevision didn't pay the movie studio for each time one of its subscribers downloaded one of its movies to one of its NDVRs. Now think about how creative this solution is. Cablevision bought and paid for the movie. Cablevision put the movie on its network servers. Cablevision then rented its NDVRs to you and me.
In other words, the movie was always on a Cablevision-owned piece of equipment. It argued, therefore, that it didn't have to pay another royalty to the movie studios each time the movie was moved from one piece of its equipment to another piece of its equipment.
Not surprising, the movie studios didn't see it that way. They argued that they were due a royalty each time the movie was viewed, much like Netflix or a movie rental store does.
In a ruling last Thursday, the judge ruled in favor of the movie studios, and said the setup violated copyright laws.
Cablevision is considering an appeal. Someday, someone will figure out a way to create a Library of Congress-style video library.
Until then, hope springs eternal.
Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Gets TechnicalOn Lawyer 2 Lawyer, we will give a preview of what's new in the world of tech by taking you to the 2007 ABA Tech Show, taking place this week, at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers. We discuss the latest in tech gadgets, the education and training sessions offered at the ABA Tech Show and looking ahead to technology and how law firms are dealing with the ever-changing tech world. Join me and my fellow Law.com blogger and Lawyer to Lawyer co-host Bob Ambrogi as we welcome the tech experts: Adriana Linares, legal technology trainer for LawTech Partners and blogger for I ♥ Tech and Dan Pinnington, Director of practicePRO and Chair of the 2007 ABA TechShow. Check it out!
Blawg Review Turns 100 Today, And It's A Carnival Roundup!If you're looking for something to read today, try Blawg Review 100, which recounts all 100 of the previous blawg reviews, and details what's going on this week for those blawggers. It's a milestone in the blawgosphere you won't want to miss!
Leprechauns Banned From School By Principal For Green Hair
Self-expression is one of the keys to individuality. Consider leprechauns, for example. Two of them, Jaclyn Timmering and Kurisa Suhr, put on some Irish outfits (what else?), dyed their hair green and went to John H. Eader Elementary school in Huntington Beach yesterday. The two, eight-year-old third graders had planned their St. Patrick's Day celebration for weeks, wearin' plenty o' green and even T-shirts that read: "Be Lucky" and "Good Luck Girl."
Unfortunately, the St. Patrick's Day celebration turned into a dud.
Their Principal, Cynthia Guerrero, was none too happy with their temporarily-sprayed green hair, applied willingly by Jaclyn's mother. When the green-clad and green-maned girls arrived at school, the Principal gave the girls three choices: wash the dye out, spend the day in the Principal's office or go home. The girls were crestfallen. What had planned to be "the best day" of their lives turned into the worst. The girls' school district in Huntington Beach has a policy that discourages dyed hair.
The problem with the policy, however, is that it can only be unevenly applied. Many Irish folks that I know, including their children, have red hair. As a Welshman, I have brown hair (yes, I know it's got more grey in it, but stay with me here). In the summertime, my hair starts to turn red from the sun. When I was younger, say for example eight years old, my hair could easily go from brown to substantially red, pretty much on its own. My daughter's hair is blonde, and she can turn it more blonde overnight. Perhaps surprising to us all, many blondes are not true blondes, and many other hair colors may not be completely natural.
If you're a Principal who likes purple - not a hairdresser - how do you know for sure?
Green hair, and perhaps a few others like blue or magenta are easy to spot and punish. But I'm willing to go out on a limb here and bet that the Huntington Beach School District does not evenly enforce this policy among its students, and especially among its high school students.
Beyond the unequal treatment (we lawyers would call it arbitrary and capricious), it's a celebration for God's sake. Let the kids have some fun for a day.
What should we expect from a Principal whose choice of a "historical figure to have dinner with" is Oprah Winfrey (see her response to Question #9 in the "purple" link above)? MIPTC suggests we send the Principal to a day of sensitivity training, and let the little leprechauns dress up and have a good time.
Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Visits Israel and the Netherlands
With the invasion of Iraq and the adoption of a new constitution in Iraq, we have stepped into the arena of International Constitutional Law. In a post 9/11 world, we have also been introduced to the importance of Counter-terrorism. Today on Lawyer 2 Lawyer, we explore International Constitutional Law, the countries involved, the many aspects, what the future holds for international countries and the importance of legal education.
We will also take a look inside the world of counter-terrorism and the efforts taken by many to educate and secure the world. Please join me and my fellow Law.com blogger and co-host Bob Ambrogi as we get insight on these topics from two very interesting guests, Professor Amos N. Guiora, who is a professor of law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law and director of the Institute for Global Security Law and Policy and Dean Tom Zwart International Dean and LLM-Director at the Utrecht School of Law in the Netherlands. Don't miss this show.
Lexis Upgrades Time Matters, Stumbles, Falls Flat On Its Technology Face
I'm Blogging This
Using new software can be a hit-or-miss prospect largely because the developers rely on you and me to help get the bugs out of it. But when you're on Version 8, you should have most, if not all, of the bugs exterminated.
Should have, that is.
Hopes were high when Lexis bought Time Matters three years ago. As time has passed, however, they've faded. One of my law school professors once famously remarked, "Hope springs eternal." Apparently, that sentiment doesn't apply to software upgrades.
WLF just upgraded from Time Matters Version 7 to Version 8 this weekend, and today, despite our hopes, we still have the same problems we had Friday. Perhaps one of the most annoying problems is the billing interface. Every time we open a completed slip, the dollar amount drops to zero.
That's a bit of a problem for a law firm that sends invoices to its clients each month. Even though our clients don't complain, it really has a disastrous effect on cash flow. But that's not the only problem. Despite Lexis's claims that the upgrade fixes the software's bugs, even the best of intentions go wrong - things that worked in prior versions don't work in this new version. Ouch. Please, don't get me started - there are a host of other problems, as well - but too long a list for this post.
We've made the billing interface suggestion to Lexis numerous times, asking them to fix the bug, but with no results. Apparently, Lexis's Quality Control Department isn't talking to its Tech Support Department, and vice versa. So, we're likely going to switch programs, encourage others who are thinking of buying the Time Matters program not to, and generally start a boycott.
Can you hear me now, Lexis? I'm voting with my feet, and my blawg.
Surely You're Shocked That 90% Of All Email Is Spam
You and the Securities and Exchange Commission, that is. The SEC is shocked that spammers promote stock through email - so shocked that it suspended trading in 35 stocks that were promoted by spam. So shocked that the stocks were suspended for a whopping 10 days.
That'll teach those spammers.
Stock spam amounts to 30% of the spam that's out there - nearly 100 million stock spam emails a week. The other 70% must be spam ads for Viagra, if my inbox is any indication.
Former California Congressman (now SEC Chair) Chris Cox, had this to say in a press release, "When spam clogs our mailboxes, it's annoying. When it rips off investors, it's illegal and destructive. Today's trading suspensions, and actions that will follow, should send a clear message to spammers: the S.E.C. will hold you accountable."
Well, maybe not the spammers, but the companies, who the SEC believes are complicit in the spam campaigns. The way the scam works (you knew it was a scam, right?) is that a spammer picks a stock with a limited number of publicly available shares, then buys most of the shares. Next comes the spam email "tipping" you and me off to a great buy. We rush in, our demand drives up the value of the remaining stock, and the spammer then dumps his/her shares at these peak values, driving the price through the floor just hours after fools rushed in to buy.
The stock then never regains its glory high.
Punishing the company by suspending it however, may be like killing the messenger without solid proof of the company's complicity. Punishing the stock purchaser before the run-up would perhaps be a more effective tactic.
But I'm just a country lawyer in backwater Newport Beach. And I don't by stock based on email tips.
San Francisco Seeks To Limit Use Of Plastic Grocery Bags
It's one thing to be on the Left Coast, a.k.a. the land of fruits, nuts, twigs and berries. It's quite another, however, to be North of the Left Coast.
Quite another thing altogether.
The City and County of San Francisco City/County Supervisors are trying to push through a measure to limit the sale of plastic grocery bags. Pause for a minute here and contemplate that word: "limit."
But before we get started with that analysis, let's look at the consequences of such a "limitation." It likely means more consumers will be using paper bags. While that option is friendlier on the recycling end of things, it does mean, on the other hand, that we'll be cutting more trees down.
The supposed environmentally conscious supervisors explain that result with two options: recyclable plastic paper bags or canvas bags. Sure, San Franciscans could all become canvas bag-toting shoppers, but the only way that's going to happen is to completely ban paper and plastic. And if you offer two types of plastic bags, then the recycling team is going to have a helluva time distinguishing the two, and they'll end up with both in the regular trash instead of being recycled.
What's most troubling, however, is that word I identified earlier: "limit." Notice I didn't say "eliminate" or "ban." The City/County plans to enact this legislative marvel only against grocery stores with more than $2 million in sales. In other words, there's a gaping hole of an exception that won't end up keeping plastic bags out of the trash. The small stores will still be able to use plastic bags.
If you're going to put your toe in the water, why not jump in all the way? Just get it over with and ban plastic altogether.
Just don't ask for a plastic milk jug. If San Francisco has its way, you'll be getting your milk in a paper milk jug.