Daniel Solove

[T]he dislike [for legal academics] is a result of law professors being too much in the world. You see, law professors — and I should disclose here that I am one — very nearly run the world, or at least certain parts of the U.S. government. When you include Justice Anthony Kennedy, who taught nights, they make up the majority of the Supreme Court.

– Professor Noah Feldman, in an interesting and provocative Bloomberg opinion piece (via Overlawyered), responding in part to David Segal’s latest New York Times piece criticizing legal education.

(Additional excerpts and discussion, after the jump.)

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Court clerks in Virginia may be shaking their fists at the Fourth Circuit today. In an interesting ruling on free speech, privacy, and public records, the court ruled that an angry blogger has the right to publish public officials’ and court clerks’ Social Security numbers in order to protest the fact that Virginia puts records online that publish citizens’ social security numbers. We skimmed the opinion, but didn’t see a citation to Hammurabi.

B.J. Ostergren has been writing TheVirginiaWatchdog.com since 2003 to bring attention to the fact that state governments play fast and loose with people’s Social Security numbers when putting land records online. Her advocacy got many of them to actually start attempting to redact SSNs from the documents before putting them online, but the system was still imperfect.

She started posting land records containing unredacted SSNs, which led the state to pass a law in 2008 to make what she was doing illegal. She sued and the courts supports her, though the Fourth Circuit eliminated some conditions imposed by the district court…

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cohen port skanks in nyc.jpgWe mentioned the ‘Skanks in NYC’ case in yesterday’s Morning Docket, and I’ve written about it extensively over at True/Slant.

To summarize: a blogger started a website called ‘Skanks in NYC’ in order to say nasty things about model Liskula Cohen. Cohen discovered the site containing just five posts, in which the blogger called Cohen a skank, a ho, and an old hag, among other nasty things, and posted photos of her.

Cohen decided she wanted to file a defamation suit against the anonymous blogger, so her lawyer subpoenaed Google — which hosted ‘Skanks in NYC’ at Blogger — to obtain the writer’s e-mail and IP address. The blogger’s lawyer fought the subpoena but lost. Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Joan Madden ordered Google to turn over the information. Google sent it along. Cohen filed her defamation suit outing her alleged defamer: Rosemary Port, a 29-year-old Fashion Institute of Technology student who was mad at Cohen for saying nasty things about her to Port’s boyfriend.

The press wrote lots of stories about the case and about Port, whose name the media obtained from court papers. Cohen then dropped her $3 million defamation suit, making it appear that this may have been a Cyberslapp: “a new form of lawsuit… threatening to overturn the promise of anonymous online speech and chill the freedom of expression that is central to the online world.”
Now Port wants to slap Google with a $15 million lawsuit, saying Google violated her First Amendment rights by complying with the court order. Her lawyer went so far as to compare ‘Skanks in NYC’ with the Federalist Papers. From the New York Daily News:

“I’m ready to take this all the way to the Supreme Court,” [Port's lawyer, Salvatore] Strazzullo said. “Our Founding Fathers wrote ‘The Federalist Papers’ under pseudonyms. Inherent in the First Amendment is the right to speak anonymously. Shouldn’t that right extend to the new public square of the Internet?”

It’s been widely reported, but what are the actual merits of the suit against Google? We spoke with renowned privacy expert and George Washington Law professor Daniel Solove about the case and have an answer for you after the jump. While we had him on the phone, we also discussed how one becomes the foremost U.S. expert on privacy by age 37.

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(Or: How To Become the Legal Expert On Privacy in Less Than 10 Years)”

US News World Report cover 2009 law school rankings ratings Above the Law blog.jpgRelax, folks. We are aware that the 2009 law school rankings of U.S. News & World Report have leaked, in advance of their official Friday publication date. They’re all over the blogosphere and the message boards (links collected below).
We’ve been sitting on this item for a little while — coordinating with our other posts this morning, taking into account our traffic patterns, etc. There is a method to our madness.
Ideally we’d hold this item even longer (which would allow us to do a more detailed write-up). But it’s clear that you’re all dying to talk about the rankings RIGHT NOW. And we don’t want to get any more emails and comments of the “why aren’t you writing about U.S. News” variety.
So here you go. Rankings and discussion, after the jump (i.e., click on the “Continue reading” link below).

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US News World Report law school rankings ratings Above the Law blog.jpgCourtesy of Professor Dan Solove, “a sneak peak at this year’s rankings, as well as some amazing secrets about how US News ranks law schools.”
The Official Leaked US News Law School Rankings, Plus Ranking Secrets Revealed! [Concurring Opinions]

US News World Report law school rankings ratings Above the Law blog.jpgCourtesy of Professor Dan Solove, “a sneak peak at this year’s rankings, as well as some amazing secrets about how US News ranks law schools.”
The Official Leaked US News Law School Rankings, Plus Ranking Secrets Revealed! [Concurring Opinions]

Facebook logo MySpace Friendster Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgAs we mentioned in passing on Friday, we’ve been mysteriously banned from Facebook, the popular social networking website. Our account was disabled without notice or explanation. We have not been informed of the allegations against us that led to the suspension of our account, nor have we been given the opportunity to confront our accusers.
To be sure, the Bill of Rights does not apply to Facebook. But being kicked off the FB still makes us sad. We’re going through their appellate process now, but they’re taking their sweet time in disposing of our appeal.
Professor Dan Solove has some interesting thoughts on Facebook and due process over here. Also, if you use Facebook, you might want to check out this interesting post, which lists some reasons people get banished from Facebook. Some of the rules are so vague that you could end up violating them without even knowing it.
Update (1:25 PM): Yay!!! We’ve been reinstated. More details, after the jump.
Further Update (3/5/08): We wrote more about our Facebook expulsion for the New York Observer.

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Future of Reputation small Daniel Solove Dan Solove Above the Law blog.jpg* Are you in DC and looking for something cool to do later tonight? Attend the talk and book signing for Professor Daniel Solove’s latest work, The Future of Reputation (previously discussed here). [Concurring Opinions]
* Are lawyers really a**holes? Or are they just doing their jobs? [WSJ Law Blog]
* Some thoughts on possibly increased bank regulation, from our colleague, John Carney: “Resistance to a new wave of banking regulation requiring bank breakups and dividing Wall Street according to regulatory fiats rather than market demand is likely to be weak in an era when many think the financial supermarket model has failed…. No one expends much time, money or energy defending a right to do something they don’t want to do anyway.” [DealBreaker]
* Don’t forget to vote for ATL! Even if you did so before, you can do so again — once every 24 hours, ending November 8th. [2007 Weblog Awards]

Future.of.Reputation.jpgDavid didn’t expect me to get the scoop. No doubt, he’s been reading the reviews of Dan Solove’s new book, The Future of Reputation Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet.
I downloaded a free copy of Chapter 1.
Don’t know if Lat has read this review by PajamasMedia’s culture critic, David Freeman, who writes:

Shame and gossip and questions of personal reputation have been with us for millennia. In our time, however, they’ve gone electronic. The resulting change in the way the world communicates with itself is as significant to speech as anything since the invention of moveable type.

David probably noticed that Frank Pasquale posted a mini-review of the book he calls “a fun read that also manages to be a scholarly work on cyberlaw.”

Solove draws us in with the old classics of humiliation–South Korea’s infamous “dog poop girl,” Jessica Cutler’s embarrassed paramour, and the Star Wars kid. Each sparked an avalanche of comedy, critical comment, spoofs. . . . and, like hope at the bottom of Pandora’s box, a tiny bit of sympathy as we wonder: will we be next?
Pace Andy Warhol, that’s not likely, but Solove uses the titillating stories to explore a deeper question: do we have any right to control true information about ourselves? Or influence the way we are portrayed? If somebody posts a vicious lie, they can be liable for defamation. But what about disclosure of private facts–should we have any right to stop that?

Okay–titillating stories–we’d buy the book to read more of that, but when do we get to read about David Lat?
“The parts about David have not been excerpted or discussed elsewhere,” teased Solove, in an exclusive interview with Above the Law. “It basically tells his story – then the rest of the chapter launches into a discussion on the good and bad aspects of anonymous blogging! In the same chapter I also discuss the legal protections on anonymity, Wikipedia, the trade-off between anonymity and accountability, how anonymous bloggers can be unmasked if not careful, and the clash between privacy and free speech.”
“If only I could get the poop on David Lat, I’d be able to write a preview for the book,” I cajoled, “It’s a tough audience! Gimme something to placate the fanboys.”
Okay, after the jump…the excerpt about David Lat…

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AutoAdmit xoxohth Anthony Ciolli Above the Law blog.JPGThe blogosphere is ablaze with discussion of the AutoAdmit lawsuit. We collect and summarize the commentary in this linkwrap.
(We read all the blogs, so you don’t have to! You can thank us later.)
1. Students File Suit Against Ex-AutoAdmit Director, Others [WSJ Law Blog]
If you haven’t done so already, read this post first. It contains the most detailed factual background about the case. You can also access the Complaint itself by clicking here (PDF).
2. Yale law students sue over “the scummiest kind of sexually offensive tripe” at AutoAdmit [Althouse]
Professor Ann Althouse has her doubts about this lawsuit:

So this is the 21st century? Where courts award punitive damages for offensive words and pictures? Isn’t “the scummiest kind of sexually offensive tripe” exactly what we always used to say people had to put up with in a free country? Man, that was so 20th century!

3. Suing Autodmit [Instapundit]
Professor Glenn Reynolds — who kindly links to our post, by the way — largely agrees with Professor Althouse. He sarcastically observes: “Stuff that offends dumb hicks in the heartland is constitutionally protected. Stuff that offends Yale Law Students must be stamped out!”
More links, after the jump.

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