Wednesday, 18 August 2004

John Gilmore interview with GrepLaw

Today GrepLaw published an interesting interview with John Gilmore, the self-described "entrepreneur and civil libertarian."

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Sunday, 15 August 2004

Doom 3 parodies 419

Id Software makes a rather funny nod to the infamous 419/Nigerian scams in Doom 3. A Register reader writes:

419 scam alive and well in 2145 :) The guys at id software have included a spam 419 e-mail from Nigeria in Doom3. Brilliant take-off, and can be found if you kill a poor scientist at the beginning of Alpha Labs Sector 4, nick his PDA and go through his inbox. Could be the best way ever of alerting the gaming public about the lads from Lagos.
Regards David

Via Furdlog

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Saturday, 6 March 2004

Politech gathering in San Francisco

Last week Declan announced a Politech gathering at the historic House of Shields in San Francisco (at 39 New Montgomery Street). The event is this Wednesday, 10 March, at 7pm. It should prove interesting to anyone interested in technology and politics.

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Sunday, 29 February 2004

Deep linking to CFR citations, from GPO

Sabrina Pacifici over at beSpacific was a bit excited today about the U.S. Government Printing Office's (GPO) "new" service that permits deep linking to sections of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). I had no idea this service was either new or under testing I have been using it for nearly six months.

I found by accident last summer that GPO's search engine returned search results in a format containing the title and section numbers in the URL. Combine this with Proxomitron's blockfiles, and you have a fast, versatile tool to look up any CFR citation from your browser address bar. Same goes for such references as the U.S. Code, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and Federal Rules of Evidence (all courtesy of the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School) and U.S. Patents, courtesy of the Patent & Trademark Office.

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Wednesday, 25 February 2004

I'm back!

Sorry for the extended absence. Starting a new job and moving to a new city can be a big drain on one's blogging time. I intend to become an active blogger again in the coming weeks.

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Sunday, 18 January 2004

Explaining the blogging slow-down

Sorry for not being at the top of my blogging game recently. As I wrote in this space ten days ago, I started a new job last week. I did not mention at that time that I am moving to San Jose to be closer to my office. As soon as things calm down a bit, I will start blogging more regularly. In the meantime, you will have to put up with sporadic updates.

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Thursday, 8 January 2004

Dan Fingerman, Esq. Part II

I am pleased to announce a new stage in my career. This afternoon I accepted an offer from Mount & Stoelker in San Jose, California to become its newest IP litigation associate. I will start next Thursday.

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Happy birthday, Elvis

Today would not be complete without marking the anniversary of Elvis Presley's birth. Happy 69th, if you are reading!

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Saturday, 3 January 2004

Towers are the Players

Sure, it is early, but I am ready to nominate this as the best fair use of the year: Towers are the Players a translation of Lord of the Rings into hiphop. (Requires Shockwave Flash) Via the Trademark Blog.

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Tuesday, 30 December 2003

SF Chronicle Sportsmen of the Year: two lawyers!

Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle has made her picks for Sportsmen of the Year ("Finally, in Bonds ball case, someone shows some class"). Her choices: attorneys Don Tamaki and Mike Lee of Minami, Lew & Tamaki LLP.

They are the lawyers who represented Patrick Hayashi, who was sued over Barry Bonds' 73rd home-run ball of the 2001 season. The case came to define the madness and crassness of modern sports. One fan, Alex Popov, got his mitt on the ball and then lost it amid a scrum of fans. Hayashi plucked the ball from the pile, without realizing that he'd entered a whole new ballgame.
Hayashi offered to settle the case by splitting the proceeds from the ball's sale 50-50, but Popov rejected the offer. After trial, the court entered a judgment ordering essentially the same thing but only after both sides had incurred enormous legal fees. Unfortunately, the ball sold at auction for less than half its estimated market value. Hayashi's legal bill, under his written contract with his attorneys, would have amounted to nearly his entire take from the sale leaving him with almost nothing.
After the home-run ball sold for so little, Tamaki and Lee knew that, once they were paid, their client would gain nothing. So they waived most of the fee. "We talked it over with my partners and agreed that Patrick should walk away with something,'' Tamaki said recently.
Neither side will say exactly how much the lawyers reduced their fees, but Hayashi did keep "enough money to pay his tuition for a master's degree in business administration, plus other bills from a year and a half of living crazily." This, my brothers and sisters at the bar, is a fine example of class.

What happened to the plaintiff? "Last we heard, Popov had acrimoniously parted ways with his attorney, Martin Triano, disputing his legal fees of $473,500. Triano sued him."

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Thursday, 25 December 2003

Sauron's offer and acceptance

I thought I had seen everything, but now there is "Sauron: Offer and Acceptance," a legal analysis of the Council of Elrond. (Via The Shifted Librarian)

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Wednesday, 24 December 2003

Legal Expert Guide for Palm users

PalmSource has published a series of Expert Guides. The guides offer tips, tricks, and software for people who use PalmOS-powered devices in a variety of professions or specialized tasks. Among them is the Legal Expert Guide, written by Susan Wilson, for legal professionals. (Via LawTech Guru)

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Tuesday, 23 December 2003

Randy Cassingham interview

The National Professional Association has published an interview with Randy Cassingham, one of my favorite humorist/writers. The interview captures everything I love about Randy's work: his boldness, his sense of humor, his skepticism, and his passion for all things interesting. Randy is the author of (among other things) This is True, the True Stella Awards, and Heroic Stories.

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Saturday, 20 December 2003


Earlier today I mentioned "a banner week for civil liberties everywhere." How little I knew at the time. Just a few minutes ago, I learned that John Perry Barlow launched a blog on Wednesday: BarlowFriendz. Yes, this is the same man who co-founded the EFF and wrote "A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace" and "Selling Wine Without Bottles."

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Saturday, 13 December 2003

Vanishing Trials

The newswires have a story that will be interesting to follow over the course of the news cycle. Professor Marc Galanter of the University of Wisconsin Law School (bio) and the London School of Economics (bio) has conducted a study of the U.S. federal court system at the behest of the American Bar Association.

Galanter's finding, dubbed "vanishing trials," documents the decline in the number of trials conducted in federal courts since 1962, notwithstanding a large increase in the number of cases filed. I have not been able to find a copy of the study online yet (please let me know if you can find it), and the newswires are a bit vague about the cause(s) of the decline. Pretrial dismissals, defaults, and settlements probably account for most of it, but I would still like to read Professor Galanter's study.

The San Jose Mercury News has the AP story, and the New York Times has some original reporting by Adam Liptak ("U.S. Suits Multiply, but Fewer Ever Get to Trial, Study Says").

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Friday, 21 November 2003

Dan Fingerman, Esq.

The State Bar of California said at 6pm:

Application Number: xxxx
Registration Number: xxxxxxxxx

The name above appears on the pass list for the July 2003 California Bar Examination.

My response? Woohoooooooooo!

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Wednesday, 19 November 2003

Formalism & circumventing the law

NBC's local affiliate in Columbus reports that college football fans can buy tickets to the upcoming Michigan-Ohio showdown online in a thinly-veiled attempt to avoid prosecution under Michigan's anti-scalping law. (Article: Auctions Offer 'Free' OSU-Michigan Tickets, Pricey Envelopes) "Internet auction site users are paying hundreds of dollars for hats, pencils or 'a personalized white envelope.' Oh, and the winning eBay bidders get 'free' tickets to Saturday's Ohio State-Michigan football game."

I would not normally cover a story like this. However, it illustrates the problem with legal formalism that I failed to explain here a few days ago. In a previous article, I mentioned Julian Dibbell's customer service adventure with PayPal. That company's Seller Protection Policy covers tangible items but not intangible ones. Julian suggested that intangible goods could be offered as free gifts with the purchase of a piece of paper that has a password written on it. The purchased item the paper would therefore fall within PayPal's policy, and the seller would be protected in the event that the buyer tries to renege on the deal. The NBC report highlights the problem with that approach.

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Sunday, 16 November 2003

Humorist hammers hapless hamburger house, heralds hermeneutic heroes

McDonald's reaction to Merriam-Webster's inclusion of McJob in the new edition of its Collegiate Dictionary sparked a wave of commentary and discussion on trademark law. (See my own blog entries: 1, 2; and a few others' comments: LawMeme, The Importance Of, and Moore's Law.) The award for the funniest commentary goes to Randy Cassingham, the publisher of several high-quality electronic publications.

For those not familiar with This Is True (Randy's flagship publication) he summarizes several news stories each week and appends a tagline to each one. Here is his entry on the McJob affair (reprinted with permission):

McANGER: The McDonald's restaurant chain has sent a letter of protest to Merriam-Webster, complaining that its new edition of the Collegiate Dictionary defines "McJob" as "low paying and dead-end work." McDonald's CEO Jim Cantalupo calls the definition "an inaccurate description of restaurant employment" and "a slap in the face to the 12 million men and women" who work in the field. (AP) ...What kind of Mickey Mouse outfit is that, anyway?

Watch out Randy Disney knows where you live!

This is off-topic for my blog, but I cannot resist using this space to plug Randy's publications. I will be in good company, though: his subscriber list has grown to more than 119,000 readers in 197 countries due almost entirely to word-of-mouth publicity. And for good reason. Randy relentlessly highlights humor, satires stupidity, boggles at bloopers, and groans at gaffes and goofs around the globe. Although humor is True's bread and butter, he also writes serious stories but always in an entertaining way that makes us shake our heads or say, "Hmmm...." The best part? True is free! (If you like it, try the premium edition with more stories each week for a pittance of a price.)

Randy also publishes another newsletter, True Stella Awards (TSA), that will interest many readers of this blog. Inspired by the case of Stella Liebeck (the once-famous "McDonald's coffee plaintiff"), emails began circulating in 1992 that conferred "Stella Awards" upon people who filed frivolous lawsuits. The problem? Most of the cases reported in these circulars were apocryphal they either never happened, or the facts were seriously misrepresented. (Randy gives a few examples on his web site.) This angered Randy because our justice system does have real problems to address, and these bogus stories were taking attention away from them. Instead of complaining, though, he did something about it. He launched True Stella Awards to comment on true cases that highlight the true problems. As a lawyer, I initially thought TSA would bother me, but I found myself agreeing with 90% of it. Randy is rigorously scrupulous with his facts, and his commentary is always thought-out and well argued, even when I disagree with it.

I thought I had finished this post when I felt guilty about not at least mentioning Randy's other baby, Heroic Stories. I have less to say on this one, though, so I will let its web site speak for itself.

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Friday, 7 November 2003

On blogging and journalism

Prolific blogger Ernest Miller (The Importance Of) discusses the natures of blogging and journalism, en route to ripping a new hole in a fellow named John Simpson. (Who is John Simpson? Journalism, Lawyers and Blogging) This essay (and the bIPlog debate that prompted it) should be required reading for all issue bloggers.

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Friday, 31 October 2003

MythBusters profiled in SF Chronicle

The MythBusters, those two plucky guys on the Discovery Channel's new show, were featured in an article on the front page of the Datebook section in today's San Francisco Chronicle. (Article: Don't try this at home unless you happen to be two out-there guys with a TV show devoted to putting urban myths to the test) Peter Rees, the show's producer, has become a star in his own right on alt.folklore.urban in recent months. Adam and Jamie deserve all the accolades in that article and then some. They are a wonderfully entertaining pair, combining sardonic humor and folklore analysis with practical and effective experimental design.

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Sunday, 26 October 2003

Ted's Caving Story

A friend of mine recently posted a link to Ted's Caving Story in AFU. I liked it more than most. The best descriptor I read compared it to the better Stephen King imitators with a Blair Witch twist. I endorse passing this story around among friends especially with Halloween coming up.

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Saturday, 4 October 2003

Lorem Ipsum

Since the 16th century, publishers have used lorem ipsum as dummy text to arrange and test typset. Why should my DTM :<| be any different? Credit for this particular text is due to the Lipsum generator.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Integer suscipit viverra tellus. Aliquam massa. Sed mollis est nec arcu. Curabitur pellentesque, diam vitae venenatis vestibulum, velit massa tincidunt lorem, sed imperdiet dui lacus volutpat odio. Donec fringilla erat nec est. In augue tortor, lobortis sit amet, posuere ac, egestas vitae, ipsum. Donec commodo. Phasellus auctor, massa eu malesuada aliquam, tellus diam posuere nulla, sed vulputate leo wisi ac odio. Aenean cursus sapien ac elit. Etiam ut dui at sem imperdiet cursus. Donec adipiscing. Duis pharetra cursus ante. Maecenas mauris quam, pellentesque nec, adipiscing eget, tempus non, diam. Nullam ligula nunc, mattis eget, posuere id, luctus sit amet, lectus. Donec dapibus. Sed fringilla eros non augue. Phasellus viverra nonummy augue. Sed in mi.

Praesent erat massa, nonummy sit amet, adipiscing et, scelerisque eget, sapien. Mauris cursus tincidunt massa. Suspendisse quam dolor, congue non, egestas quis, molestie ac, velit. Nam tincidunt feugiat est. Morbi elementum neque ut nibh. Aenean tortor. Suspendisse aliquam. Aenean sodales volutpat mauris. Mauris feugiat, arcu et ornare egestas, ante lectus dignissim ante, eget aliquam libero ante eu neque. Maecenas id velit. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; Nulla tortor mauris, blandit et, accumsan non, viverra sed, erat. Suspendisse dictum. Pellentesque vel ligula id metus sagittis aliquam. Mauris hendrerit, ipsum ac eleifend accumsan, nulla neque vestibulum mauris, vitae scelerisque nunc ipsum in tellus.

Ut in neque nec lacus consectetuer rutrum. Etiam iaculis, libero id varius scelerisque, erat sem fermentum enim, vel laoreet velit ligula et ipsum. Aliquam in dolor et velit molestie laoreet. Praesent sollicitudin sapien at tortor. Fusce non felis non felis consequat condimentum. Aliquam sollicitudin mi nec nunc. Ut in leo. Aliquam odio tortor, euismod ac, aliquet vitae, sodales at, tellus. Donec id dui nec neque pretium vehicula. Morbi dapibus. Morbi vestibulum elementum dolor. Pellentesque nec nulla. Nulla in metus at pede laoreet eleifend.

Donec imperdiet, justo vitae vehicula blandit, leo sapien sollicitudin enim, sit amet molestie mi ipsum id pede. Vivamus dapibus mattis tortor. Integer fringilla lacus id sem. Nulla facilisi. Donec elementum cursus velit. Pellentesque vulputate, nisl sit amet vulputate pellentesque, tortor est rutrum sapien, in pellentesque urna diam eget pede. Fusce tristique dolor ut nulla. Mauris scelerisque lectus nec dui. Phasellus facilisis gravida libero. Vestibulum ante ipsum primis in faucibus orci luctus et ultrices posuere cubilia Curae; In metus velit, fringilla vel, interdum id, aliquet sed, orci. Mauris metus nulla, scelerisque scelerisque, vulputate et, sodales et, risus. Phasellus tortor. Mauris sollicitudin dolor et erat.

Maecenas in metus. Donec et erat. Praesent massa. Nam lobortis tellus vel velit. Mauris tristique purus id tortor. Fusce quam elit, ornare in, cursus sed, dapibus in, erat. Donec et purus. Integer lacinia tristique purus. Cras quis sapien ut libero bibendum eleifend. Mauris et massa nec justo molestie hendrerit. Aliquam malesuada adipiscing ipsum. Maecenas quis erat at sem placerat elementum. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. In sit amet diam. Curabitur faucibus scelerisque massa. Nam quam lectus, ultrices sed, volutpat a, gravida in, mauris. Etiam massa augue, bibendum vitae, tincidunt quis, pharetra vel, ipsum. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Cras sem. Suspendisse vel dui.

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