International investors have a private court of appeal even in criminal matters - "A parallel legal universe, open only to corporations and largely invisible to everyone else, helps executives convicted of crimes escape punishment. [ISDS] operates unconstrained by precedent or any significant public oversight, often keeping its proceedings and sometimes even its decisions secret." (via) [more inside]
Today a California appeals court ruled that free online porn is not unfair competition to pay sites.
"I’m Yertle the Turtle! Oh, marvelous me! For I am the ruler of all that I see!” "He's made our case for us, your honor, you see. And so prosecution rests our case, don't we?"
"Your responsibility is to defend Yertle. You may argue that Yertle is the king and, as protector of the realm, has a right to order his subjects to do whatever he thinks is necessary. He thought it was necessary to see what was beyond his pond and pressed other turtles into service so that he could see that far. They were hurt in the line of duty, so he wasn't personally liable for Sadie's injury. He did not realize how young she was, or he wouldn't have ordered her to join the stack of turtles." Turtle on Trial, a lesson from the ABA for Law Day, May 1.
"Roy Den Hollander, a graduate of the Ivy League university’s business school, contends Columbia's Institute for Research on Women and Gender is discriminatory and unconstitutional because there is no equivalent 'men’s studies' programme." So Mr. Hollander is suing Columbia, thereby completing his "trilogy of antifeminist lawsuits." More at Gothamist.
"What if a person felt their religious view was that African Americans shouldn't mingle with Caucasians, or that women shouldn't work?"
...a growing campaign to force public schools, state colleges and private workplaces to eliminate policies protecting gays and lesbians from harassment....Christian activist Gregory S. Baylor responds to such criticism angrily. He says he supports policies that protect people from discrimination based on race and gender. But he draws a distinction that infuriates gay rights activists when he argues that sexual orientation is different — a lifestyle choice, not an inborn trait. By equating homosexuality with race, Baylor said, tolerance policies put conservative evangelicals in the same category as racists. ... "Think how marginalized racists are," said Baylor, who directs the Christian Legal Society's Center for Law and Religious Freedom. "If we don't address this now, it will only get worse." Should Christians be able to sue for the right to not tolerate or abide by anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies meant to apply to all? Should they still be able to get school activity funding?
Wikipedia wrangling once more: the entire German edition was shut down this week over the contents of a single entry. The parents of the article's subject, a German hacker who died in 1998 under mysterious circumstances, are displeased with his real name being disclosed in the encyclopedia. It is now back online; however, the future of the family's efforts is currently unclear, not only due to the German order's debatable validity in the US - but also because the order was, initially at least, mistakenly addressed to St. Petersburg, Russia, instead of St. Petersburg, Florida.
Doctors suing patients Are you angry and upset because of what a doctor did or did not do during a medical procedure? Did you express your anger online? Now doctors are suing patients for expressing their anger online.
10 most bizarre employment cases of 2004 - At least two of these cases were previously discussed on Mefi. (1), (2)
Opportunists and Self-Described Victims vs. Any Available Deep Pockets For the stupid and the dead, there's the Darwin Awards. For the opportunistic and the alive, there's the Stella Awards. The Stella Awards were inspired by Stella Liebeck. In 1992, Stella, then 79, spilled a cup of McDonald's coffee onto her lap, burning herself. A New Mexico jury awarded her $2.9 million in damages. And of course it wasn't that simple, but the brief descriptions of the various cases make for entertaining reading. Serious legal geeks can have full case reports mailed to them, or check out and post to the site forum.
U.S.Businesses File Four Times More Lawsuits Than Private Citizens [...]The report also found that businesses and their attorneys were 69 percent more likely than individual tort plaintiffs and their attorneys to be sanctioned by federal judges for filing frivolous claims or defenses. The report, Frequent Filers: Corporate Hypocrisy in Accessing the Courts, is available by clicking here. “Corporations think America is too litigious only when they are on the receiving end of a lawsuit,” said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen. “But when they feel aggrieved, businesses are far more likely to take their beef to court than are consumers.”[...] more
California bill to ease "move aways" by custodial parents pulled. Until a recent CA Supreme Court decision, it was easy for custodial parents to move themselves and their children far from their ex-spouse. The Court reversed the old rule and held that the move could be blocked if the non-custodial parent could show that it would interfere with his/her relationship with the kids. Legislation to reimpose the old permissive standard passed through the State Senate, but has now been pulled off the legislative calendar after an outcry by father's rights groups.
Lessig and the RIAA's Matt Oppenheim This great Q&A between two very well spoken opponents in the copyright wars answers (very clearly) many of the questions that have stemmed from the ongoing erosion of the public domain by copyright law and the degradation of the music industry by file swappers. I was struck by how straight many of the answers were... a fascinating read
I believe this is a blow for the First Amendment. Today, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the Child Online Protection Act. Also, read COPA's report online. In related news, the Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments regarding a law which requires "filters" to be placed on public library computers. Can any of these laws be written to satisfy constitutional requirements? Julie Hilden of Findlaw.con has already contemplated this issue. Will the U.S. follow Canada's lead by enacting similar anti-porn laws? Despite support in the U.S. for such laws, the Indianapolis model pornography law was struck down as unconstitutional nearly ten years ago. It seems even Canada is rejecting the Dworkin/MacKinnon point of view. Is there any middle ground in this showdown of liberty and equality? Which value should prevail? Are these values really at odds with each other?
Consumer Power! Not only can you register to join dozens of pending or proposed class action lawsuits, but you can try to convince an attorney to start a new one just for you. A welcome alternative to the Better Business Bureau or a sign of the approaching demise of Western civilization?
Evil SBC acts like bully going after small sites with an absurd patent. If you've ever designed a web site with "selectors or tabs that... seem to reside in their own frame or part of the user interface" such as Metafilter's header or Amazon's tabs or c|net's yellow side bar, then your design is in violation of SBC Communication's patent number 5,933,841. Here's the abstract:
via Jarle's Cyberspace
A structured document browser includes a constant user interface for displaying and viewing sections of a document that is organized according to a pre-defined structure. The structured document browser displays documents that have been marked with embedded codes that specify the structure of the document. The tags are mapped to correspond to a set of icons. When the icon is selected while browsing a document, the browser will display the section of the structure corresponding to the icon selected, while preserving the constant user interface.Armed with this patent SBC is going after web sites with a licensing fee of $100,000 to $16,000,000. Will this insanity ever stop?
via Jarle's Cyberspace
Silence is Golden: A bizarre legal battle over a minute's silence in a recorded song has ended with a six-figure out-of-court settlement.
Catholic church plays hardball in the courts. [NYTimes link, login metafi/metafi] "The dioceses have on the whole acted little differently from commercial institutions confronted by explosive litigation risks. They have tried aggressively to limit exposure to claims by setting up parishes as individual corporations, invoked the statute of limitations, subjected plaintiffs to days of grueling depositions and settled claims in secret." Should the church be behaving just like any private company? What would Jesus do?
More from the "Watch What You Say Online" Department This Wired story mentions a fellow who badmouthed a thin-skinned company on an online forum and found himself hit with a $450,000 default judgment against him because he didn't show up in court to defend himself (he claims he had no idea he had been sued). Even those among us who might not be guilty of stealing have probably said something bad about various companies here and elsewhere. Should we all go hire a lawyer RIGHT NOW?
Network Solutions faces 'hoarding' allegations. "Networks Solutions Inc. has illegally restrained trade and willfully maintained monopoly power over expired domain names, according to a class-action lawsuit recently filed by an Alabama businessman."
Disney found guilty of theft? The house that Walt built loses in court to a complaint that they stole an idea. Here's the backstory to the $1.5 billion dollar lawsuit.
DaimlerChrysler is taking the Webmaster of DodgeViper.Com to court after he tried selling it on eBay. What gets me is that the owner of the site claims he had to defend himself, because he couldn't afford an attorney, yet he says he owns a Dodge Viper? Just another dispute on who can own what domains, and what they can do with them.
The Supreme Court ruled today that university student fees may go to controversial groups in order to create a "marketplace of ideas". As a member of a university student funding board (and as a member of "controversial" student groups, i.e. GLBT groups), I've been eagerly awaiting this ruling all semester. The case began in 1996 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where three students challenged the use of mandatory student fees to fund campus organizations that they had politically and idealogically objections to. For the full text of the Supremem Court decision, visit campusspeech.org.