May It Please The Court
Quote of the Day - 'Tis but an hour ago since it was nine, And after one hour more 'twill be eleven; And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe, And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot; And thereby hangs a tale.
Hang On - We're Still Moving Servers
Regular readers will remember that MIPTC was hacked by CPX Interactive - a company that placed unauthorized pop-up ads on MIPTC and several related sites. In the process, the hackers completely wiped out our companion blog sites, A Criminal Waste of Space and Sharks in the Water, as well as my book site, How to Get Sued, and in the process erased two months of MIPTC posts.
We've restored ACWOS and SITW, as well as HTGS. We're still working on MIPTC, so please bear with us while we're making the move from UplinkEarth to GoDaddy, a much more stable web hosting environment. We hope to have the process completed by early next week, and we'll be back up and running ASAP.
So much for alphabet soup.
Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Gets Duped
Attorneys have fallen prey to a new email scam circulating that specifically targets law firms. Please join me as I dissects this check scam sweeping law firms.
Attorney Gregory Bartko, an Atlanta securities and corporate attorney and Attorney John P. Donohue, Senior Counsel from Thorp Reed & Armstrong in Philadelphia talk about the details of the scam, how they were targeted, how one lawyer was victimized and one narrowly escaped - this is a story you can't afford to miss!
What's Wrong With This Opinion?
James Hernandez pled no contest to oral copulation with a person less than 16-years-old. Hernandez was 22 and the minor was 14.
In 2001, Hernandez served 270 days in jail, was placed on five years of probation, and required to register with local police as a sex offender according to California Penal Code section 290. So far, so good.
In 2006, the California Supreme Court held in People v. Hofsheier that mandatory sex offender registration under section 290 violated equal protection when a person is convicted of oral copulation of a minor between the ages of 16 and 18. Don't ask me why, I just report 'em - the post in the last link gives a great explanation. Based on that decision, Hernandez appealed to overturn the mandatory registration requirement, arguing there is no reasonable distinction between oral copulation with a person between 16 and 18 years of age and with a person between 14 and 16 years of age.
The court of appeal reversed the mandatory sex offender registration requirement and allowed Hernandez not to register as a sex offender.
So I ask again, what's wrong with this decision in People v. Hernandez?
Lawyer 2 Lawyer Internet Radio Stops to Smell the Roses
Last week, the FBI arrested blogger Kevin Cogill of Culver City, California, on suspicion of violating a federal copyright law for posting nine tracks from the unreleased and much anticipated Guns n' Roses album "Chinese Democracy" on his blog.
Please join me and my fellow Law.com blogger and co-host Bob Ambrogi, as we discuss this hot legal topic with Attorney Lisa Borodkin, an entertainment attorney in private practice in Los Angeles and Attorney Philip Daniels an associate in the Entertainment, Media and Communications Practice Group at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP. Hear about the legal issues in this case, the new federal copyright law and what the future looks like for Cogill.
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.
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).
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.
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.