* Court rules that overlapping elements between romance novels do not amount to infringement. I mean, there’s only so many ways to phrase “throbbing member.” [Courthouse News Service]
* Pinellas County, Florida (Tampa Bay area) returns to using fluoridated water after a governmental sea change brought on by the issue. Don’t they understand the Communist plot to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids? [Tampa Bay Times]
* In fairness, I think pro se litigants generally have a pretty good ineffective assistance claim. [Lowering the Bar]
* The D.C. Circuit managed to irritate both environmentalists and industry by affirming Fish and Wildlife’s designation of polar bears as “threatened.” It’s a nice middle ground. You know who else would appreciate some middle ground? A polar bear clinging to a shrinking ice floe. [Volokh Conspiracy]
* Former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor thinks kids need a healthier respect for the American democratic process. It would be unfortunate if the will of a democratic majority could get hijacked by five partisan hacks. [Courthouse News Service]
* Following up on yesterday’s profile of Lindsay Lohan’s attorney Mark Heller, the judge declared him “incompetent.” Fair enough. [TMZ]
* For any Catholics hitting up PaddyPower to lay down money on the conclave, you’ve probably had some restless nights wondering if Pope Gregory XIV’s edict per the Ius Decretalium still applies. It doesn’t. That’s a load off. [Canon Law Blog]
* A number of strip clubs are challenging San Antonio’s new regulations. One key to their argument: “the presentation of expressive dance performances is a beneficial social activity which creates an improved self image for the dancer….” Yeah, good luck with that argument. [KEGL]
* If you’re looking for emotional distress damages, maybe lay off the “I’m just embarrassed to be seen with him now” arguments. [Lowering the Bar]
* To challenge the law letting the government tap your communications in secret, you need to have full knowledge that the secret recording is happening. Thanks Joseph Heller. [Volokh Conspiracy]
* The new Copyright Alert System goes into effect, allowing copyright holders to make your service provider slow your Internet to a crawl if you’re identified as a repeat violator. I don’t see what the big deal is, but then again, I’m still using a Prodigy account. [Gawker]
* MC Hammer is softening, but still a tad miffed after police booked him for an expired registration after he told them, “U Can’t Touch This.” [Los Angeles Times]
* Are you kidding? University of North Carolina’s “Honor Court” is threatening to expel a student for “intimidating” her attacker by discussing that she was raped — without identifying her attacker. This is why North Carolina can’t have nice things. [Feministing]
Ed. note: This post appears courtesy of our friends at Techdirt. We’ll be sharing law-related posts from Techdirt from time to time in these pages.
Universal Studios seems to have some trouble establishing concrete ideas and positions when it comes to copyright on its own products. In recent iterations, this has manifested itself in the form of their protesting a parody of 50 Shades of Grey while conveniently ignoring that work’s birth in the form of Twighlight fan-fiction. Alternatively, there are times when Universal doesn’t even seem to know what it holds the rights to and what it doesn’t. Well, it turns out that these stumbles aren’t exactly a new experience for Universal.
Chris O’Donnell writes in with the historical and hysterical case of Universal suing Nintendo over Donkey Kong shortly after Universal itself had argued that the property the dispute was based on, King Kong, was in the public domain. See, back when Michael Jackson was still best known for his music, Nintendo came up with their iconic Donkey Kong character, admittedly in some part inspired by the famous King Kong character. This inspiration, it turns out, came after the fact, but that didn’t stop Universal Studios from filing suit against Nintendo, because they had released a remake of King Kong a few years earlier. While some within Nintendo wanted to simply settle with Universal and move forward, others within sought out the words of a key ally to fight against them, and that ally was Universal Studios.
* A new lawsuit asks, “Who owns Sherlock Holmes?” That sounds like a mystery suitable for… ugh, I can’t bring myself to finish that gag. [Courthouse News Service]
* The well-oiled train wreck that is the NCAA finds itself in hot water for ignoring legal advice and going after Miami using privileged information. Lawyers are often maligned by non-lawyers, so let’s enjoy this article from a sports columnist explaining why lawyers can be awesome. [EDSBS]
* There’s a new iTunes app to keep track of your hours! I’m assuming it has a Biglaw feature to pad hours. [Herald Online]
* A trilogy of articles about California’s prison “realignment,” described as “The Best Trilogy Since Star Wars.” I’m certainly hoping this isn’t a reference to Episodes I-III. [PrawfsBlawg]
* The third in an ongoing series of posts covering the trial of DC superhero Firestorm. Too bad he doesn’t have that split personality defense to fall back on. For the three of you who got that joke, you’re welcome. [Law and the Multiverse]
‘Read me some Camus to cheer me up.’ — Hayley Franklin, 3, after hearing new birthday song.
Ever notice that movies and TV shows go out of their way never to sing “Happy Birthday To You” on-screen? Well that’s because Time Warner owns the copyright and rides that cash cow to the tune (hah!) of $2 million every year. Every unauthorized rendition of the song is technically worth $700 in royalties payable to Time Warner.
Time Warner’s zealous enforcement has even raised concerns that YouTube may have to take down videos of kiddie parties singing the song.
How can we break Time Warner’s stranglehold over our annual celebration of our own impending mortality? A New Jersey radio station (WFMU) decided to write a new song to replace “Happy Birthday To You” and brought in Harvard professor Larry Lessig to judge the competition.
A video of the new song that you’ll come to love appears after the jump. And by love I mean, “listen to, laugh, and hope to purge from your memory”….
You can do so much with a law degree: securities litigation, real estate, executive compensation, porn production…wait, what?
The Internet, one of the greatest technological achievements in human history, is mostly for porn distribution (not really, but that’s the popular misconception). And if the Internet is littered with copyrightable pornographic material, there’s an opening for attorneys to make some money helping clients go after those who steal that material.
But what if a law firm, operating through shell companies, started making its own porn in order to concoct its own causes of action? I mean, that couldn’t happen, right?
Well, Judge Otis Wright of the Central District of California suspects that may have just happened in his courtroom, and he’s not happy….
* This guy could teach a master class in how to stand by your (wo)man. Mary Jo White’s husband, John White, will relinquish his equity partner status at Cravath upon her confirmation as the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. [Am Law Daily]
* Macho, macho man: it looks like we’ll never know if Dechert actually has a “macho culture,” because the FMLA and paternity leave case that questioned the very existence of this Biglaw subculture was settled out of court. [National Law Journal]
* Why you gotta go and ruin Valentine’s Day for everyone at O’Melveny and Akin Gump? Apple’s request to speed up the Greenlight Capital case was approved, with arguments now scheduled for February 19. [CNET]
* Despite her nomination being crapped on by the Senate, Jenny Rivera, the CUNY School of Law professor, was recently confirmed as an associate judge of the New York Court of Appeals. [New York Law Journal]
* “Behold, the instrument of your liberation!” Survivors of the Aurora movie massacre are being harassed by conspiracy theorists, and the DA asked the judge to scrub their names from the record. [Courthouse News]
* Shorter version of this article: Morpheus explaining, “But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see?…The very minds of the [nice legal academics] we are trying to save. But until we do, these [law professors] are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy.” [Inside the Law School Scam]
* New Mexico is considering a new law against bullying — but does it go too far? Does it? Answer me, you little wuss! [Volokh Conspiracy]
Have you been holding off on buying your copy of Supertrain: The Complete Series in hopes of downloading it illegally without fear of reprisal? Well, you have a friend in Antigua & Barbuda.
In a Monday decision by the World Trade Organization, Antigua & Barbuda can now legally offer downloads of copyrighted U.S. works, and there’s not a damn thing the U.S. can do about it.
The decision marks the latest chapter in the long-running trade dispute between the U.S. and the tiny Caribbean nation over Antigua’s internet gambling industry. The U.S. banned Antigua’s internet casinos, Antigua took the U.S. to court through the WTO, and Antigua won — and has continued to win — consistently throughout the appeal process.
And now, in what passes for the sentencing phase of the WTO proceedings, Antigua has earned the right to violate the hell out of U.S. copyrights up to the value of $21 million a year.
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The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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