Quote of the Day - Hark, the Herald Tribune sings, Advertising wondrous things.
Newspapers Are Dead; Internet Dispenses Expert News And Analysis Like No Other
OK, maybe the headline is a bit overstated, but perhaps not by too much. Think about it this way - why are you reading a legal blog? Why do you turn to any number of other Internet sources for specific types of information? You use the Internet for much more. Can you get the kind of legal analysis you get here in a newspaper? The law isn't the only search you've run on Google recently.
And think about this ruling barring the San Francisco Chronicle and the Hearst Corporation from joining forces, with one federal judge issuing a temporary injunction to stop the merger. The two intended to offer joint distribution services and advertising to their clients, but are now barred from doing so, at least for the nearly foreseeable future. The case is far from over, but TROs are not issued unless there is a likelihood of success, which the government appears to have established.
Communicating news to one another has been with us longer than anyone knows, and it will be with us for a long time to come. The form it will come in, however, remains an open question. Newspapers are a comparatively recent phenomenon, and have stayed with us largely because they generate profit for those who publish them and because they provide a more tangible source than radio and TV news. The nascent Internet news sources have yet to develop a model broad enough to allow bloggers and independent journalists the same method for profit, but the medium is changing as those same newspaper advertisers embrace the Internet.
Remember when our parents listened to the radio and advertisers flocked to radio stations? Television claimed the same demise of radio once it debuted, but we still have radio. The Internet claims the same demise of newspapers, but as more computers come online, advertisers will likewise turn to the Internet to reach buyers, but will will still have newspapers, much like radio exists alongside TV.
Some journalists label the demise of newspapers as a slow suffocation, but many point to the continued profitability of papers to argue that they're not dead, despite what some of their most profitable columnists think.
This discussion is not new, and newspapers are obviously far from dead. While many would put newspapers on life support, newspapers will be relegated to the same corner as radio, alongside Internet news, but split into many sources. Advertisers will have to join in or lose their audiences.
It's time for advertisers to catch up. Many of us stopped reading newspapers long ago, we have TIVO to skip TV commercials and XM and Sirius to avoid radio commercials.
Figure it out.
Coast to Coast Internet Gets the Skinny on Compliance
Corporate governance is one of the main concerns for American corporations. In this show, we will discuss the compliance issues that companies are facing and the General Counsel’s role. Is the GC the ‘guard-dog’ of corporate compliance?
Join me and my co-hosts and fellow Law.com blogger Robert Ambrogi as we welcome this week's experts. Coast to Coast turns to Attorney Lanny J. Davis, partner from the Washington D.C. office of the global law firm, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, Gary Levine, President and Founder of Two Step Software, Inc., which provides tools for compliance and finally Professor Charles Elson, Chair in Corporate Governance and the Director of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at the University of Delaware.
This show is of interest to general counsel and corporate compliance officers.
Prevent Unauthorized Access To Your Computers Through Rules
Fine. You've got hardware firewalls, software firewalls, spam filters, phishing filters and even antivirus programs running on your computers to keep out hackers.
But do you have rules?
What's that? Rules, you say? We don't need no stinkin' rules; nobody can get in our computer system from the outside.
Perhaps true, but what about your employees on the inside? How do you protect your computer data from them and prevent unauthorized access? According to a spate of recent court decisions under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, you need rules if you intend to protect your data from access by your employees and former employees. That means a set of written rules specifically tailored to your industry and thoroughly communicated to your employees.
Take, for example, a hospital. An employee in the hospital's IT department should not be allowed access to the actual content of patient files and records because that employee is not treating the patient. Doctors and nurses, on the other hand, need to see the patient's chart, but at the same time, probably don't need to see the patient's social security number or financial information to properly treat the patient. You get the idea.
But don't stop there. If your customers or vendors access your servers to place orders or obtain other information, then you need a clear set of guidelines for them, as well. You'll also want to ensure your customers and vendors receive notice of your guidelines, too. This article provides an in-depth discussion of the relevant cases, if you're interested in the specifics. If you're in need of a set, give me a call. I'm not only a geek, I'm a lawyer, too.
Once you have a set of rules in place that have been clearly communicated to those concerned, you can then use the CFAA as a weapon to prosecute employees and others who gain unauthorized access to your computer data. Although it may also be a crime, you don't even have to wait for the U.S. Attorney or your local District Attorney to prosecute the case. Your company can rush in and get an injunction preventing further use of the data, access to your computer systems and requiring the return of the data.
Are You Listening, Orange County Sanitation District?
MIPTC has always failed to understand why the government regulates private industry so heavily while at the same time ignoring the plank in its own eye. Take, for example, studies showing that Orange County beaches were closed 225 times nearly ten years ago due to storm water runoff, which hasn't gotten much better in the ensuing decade. Nearly 1.5 million swimmers each year are sickened by bacteria in near-shore ocean water across the country. How hard is it to take some of those tax dollars we pay and develop a system to treat runoff and non-point source pollution?
It may have just gotten a bit easier, thanks to private industry.
Abtech Industries will start in 2007 selling a filtration technology that fits like a sponge into sewer drains. It's made from recycled plastics, to boot, and according to the company, absorbs oil, PCBs and other toxins, but allows water to flow through. The latest version is also coated with an antimicrobial coating that destroys bacteria. The sponge has actually been tested here in Southern California.
The USEPA has sanctioned the company's Smart Sponge® technology as a Best Management Practice for state and local government management of storm water runoff.
Take that and stick it in your storm water drain, Orange County Sanitation District.
Sure We Can Give Your Money Away; We're The Government
Here's today's quiz: Can a City Council donate public monies to a non-profit corporation, such as a Chamber of Commerce, where a City Council member is also on the Board of the Chamber and his wife is an executive of the Chamber?
If you guessed no, then you guessed wrong.
Yes, I said "No" was wrong, believe it or not, despite the number of double negatives and double entendres in that sentence.
That's right, according to lame duck California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, a City Council can donate to the Chamber, even though a City Council member and his wife are involved with the Chamber. According to Mr. Lockyer, Esquire, the City can donate money to the Chamber under California Government Code section 1090.
Just in case you're wondering, here's what the statute says (so you can ensure Mr. Lockyer, Esquire has it right): "Members of the Legislature, state, county, district, judicial district, and city officers or employees shall not be financially interested in any contract made by them in their official capacity, or by any body or board of which they are members."
See if you can figure it out. If you're like me and you can't, his opinion is here.
Squeeze In A Bit Of American History At The Dinner Table
In between snippets of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, football, turkey, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pies, more turkey and a second helping of pumpkin pie - this time without the whipped cream (I'm watching my girlish figure, thank you very much), you may give a moment or two of thought to the Pilgrims.
Together with Massasoit and Wampanog American Indians, they are after all the reason for the season. At least this season, that is.
When your mind wanders to the feast they had in Plymouth, you may not have given much thought to America's first set of imported laws. That's right. We have our own Magna Carta, sort of.
It's called the Mayflower Compact. MIPTC reproduces it's text here so you can give the kids a quiz on it at the dinner table and make sure they've earned their American History Points For The Day.
"In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord, King James, by the Grace of God, of England, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, e&. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the northern parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and one of another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid; And by Virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In Witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord, King James of England, France and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth. Anno Domini, 1620."
The document was signed by 41 of the 102 passengers, 37 of whom were Separatists fleeing religious persecution in Europe. This compact established the first basis in the new world for written laws. Half of the colony failed to survive the first winter, but the remainder lived on and prospered. Although the Mayflower is commonly known as America's first constitution, it's more of a covenant among the settlors to obey the people that will govern the colony.
But it was a start, and a start on the long road to 1776. We thank the Pilgrims for showing us road to democracy. They celebrated that auspicious beginning with a feast, welcoming the original Americans and everyone's family members. We can do the same again.
MIPTC wishes you a prosperous year and a Happy Thanksgiving to you, too.
Don't Call Your Legislator; They're Busy Correcting Typos
Typos. They're the bane of lawyers, and now the bane of several state legislatures.
For example, New Yorkers need to beware of one new law passed by that state's legislature. If you've got just the tiniest amount of alcohol in your body, say the weight of a liter of helium (about 0.18 grams), then you're legally drunk. New Yorkers, in fact, are all automatically in violation of the law because more than 0.18 grams of alcohol occurs naturally in most everyone's bloodstream.
That result is thanks to a typo in a new law.
That's right. Legislators passed a get-tough, drunk-driving law intending to establish a new limit of 0.18 percent of your blood alcohol content to create an "aggravated driving while intoxicated" standard. But somehow in the rush to get the law on the books, someone stuck the word "gram" after the limit instead of "blood alcohol content." The law was intended to prevent prosecutors from allowing a plea bargain to a lesser charge if the offender's BAC was above 0.18% of blood alcohol content, but the mistake makes the law essentially unenforceable.
New Yorkers aren't the only ones in trouble, though.
In Arizona, a ballot measure approved by voters meant to tax each pack of cigarettes by 80 cents. Unfortunately, the ballot measure added a period in front of the 80 cents - .80 - actually making it only 8 cents per pack. Legislators are going to collect the tax anyway, it will just be 90% less than they expected.
Perhaps the worst typo, however, is the one that converted $8 million into 1.5 cents. Legislators in Hawaii passed a cigarette tax increase designed to generate the $8 million for cancer research. They intended to tax each cigarette 1.5 cents, but forgot to specify in the statute that the tax was per cigarette, instead enacting a tax that plopped a whopping 1.5 cents on the tobacco industry,
Imagine if a court made that mistake in one of those billion-dollar tobacco verdicts.
California Cities Step To Forefront To Slow Global Warming
What's Your City Doing?
It's not often that politicians take a stand.
That's why MIPTC read with some slight degree of shock that officials in Los Angeles, Burbank, Glendale, Riverside, Pasadena and Anaheim elected not to renew contracts with a coal-fired power plant in lieu of buying power based on solar and wind power. Wow.
Now's the time to ask your City Council and County Board of Supervisors to get on the bandwagon started by Governor Schwarzenegger, who signed legislation back in September, which is the first-in-the-nation emissions cap on utilities, refineries and manufacturing plants. The goal is to cut greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by 2020.
Just call him Governor Terminator.