Internet

The psychological term for it is The Online Disinhibition Effect, a condition brought on by the interlocking effects of dissociative anonymity, invisibility, asynchronicity, solipsistic introjection, dissociative imagination, and minimization of authority. This is the condition that leads people otherwise aware of proper social and professional behavior to go off the rails and say things they would know not to broadcast publicly if the world could easily identify them.

That’s what happened to a self-identified judge who routinely posted under a pseudonym on a popular college sports board.

And now it looks like we’ve cracked the code and figured out who this judge is, and if we’re right, he’s a rising star. Or he was a rising star, before this….

(It turns out that we’re right. Please note the UPDATE at the end of this post.)

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Here’s a message to all lawyers drafting demand letters. Before you fire off that deliciously evil, in-your-face, incendiary letter replete with all those unreasonable demands you dreamed up over the last 30 minutes of editing, take a good hard look at what you’ve written, and then stop. Just… stop.

What did you think you were going to gain? Did you hope it would help your letter stand out? Prove to your adversary that you’re really serious? Set a bold opening bid for negotiations? Are there visions of a terrified person reading your letter and running to the phone to give your client everything under the sun?

Because none of that is going to happen. All you’ve managed to do is torpedo your credibility… and now you’ll probably end up getting trolled by a popular legal industry website.

Take, for example, these guys, whose string of ridiculous demands not only failed to reduce their adversary to jelly, it elicited a declaratory judgment suit.

So the question is, “Would You Rather: Be self-satisfied over your own cleverness or save your client from litigation?”

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Earlier this week, I wrote about a lawyer in Florida suing Apple for millions because he couldn’t be bothered to figure out how iTunes works. Little did I know that this wasn’t the craziest law suit brought by a lawyer against Apple.

A tipster pointed us to a 50-page complaint filed in federal court last month seeking damages and injunctive relief against Apple for making devices that can display porn, or as the rest of us call it, the Internet. The complaint gracefully skips from pop psychology, to comparing porn to handguns, to appeals to the divine rule of the Almighty.

This wasn’t the best week for Apple in the courtroom, but at least the in-house lawyers have this suit to look forward to defending…

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* Ed O’Bannon asks the NCAA to agree in writing not to retaliate against any current athlete that joins his lawsuit against the organization. How sad is it that a non-profit organization committed to helping students needs to be reminded not to retaliate against students? In other news, NCAA Football 14 (affiliate link) came out today. [USA Today]

* More SCOTUS Term analysis. Tom Goldstein, Adam Liptak, and Jess Bravin have been invited to explain to the Heritage Foundation what an awesome term it had. [Heritage]

* The Shelby County decision completely lacks any foundation for the argument that the Voting Rights Act violates the Constitution. Yeah, but besides that… [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

* What is wrong with soccer fans? Referee stabs player and then ends up like Ned Stark. [Legal Juice]

* Mayer Brown reports that Mexican leaders are lining up behind energy sector reform. [Breaking Energy]

* Ever wonder about the extent of Internet censorship around the world? Here’s a handy chart showing how Google is censored in various countries around the world. [io9]

* Obama caves to Republican requests to suspend law. Republicans label Obama tyrannical for suspending that law. Bravo. [Wall Street Journal]

I have to admit that I’m still a bit surprised that pop-up/pop-under advertisements still exist. The concept is so annoying and so anti-consumer that pretty much all browsers figured out ways to build in pop-up blockers many, many years ago. Every so often one gets through (almost always advertising Netflix, by the way), and I get annoyed and try to remember never to visit that site again. However, Paul Keating alerts us to the news that a company called “ExitExchange” now claims to hold a patent on pop-up ads, and has sued seven porn sites and two travel companies [Ed. note: this link is from a porn industry publication so it's "safe-ish" for work, but be warned] for using them without a license.

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Yesterday Elie wrote about the NYU “professor” who twitted a pitiable comment about obese people not being able to obtain Doctorates. The Interwebs had a field day with the comment. And the sociopaths who have every word of this site transmitted to their email just so they can snark went bananas. Two days ago, a comedienne debated a friend of hers regarding the appropriateness of rape humor, and the responsive comments were frankly disgusting. As were many of the comments directed at a Cheerios ad that featured a bi-racial family. Finally, I wrote some weeks ago about the secrecy surrounding mental health issues in our profession, and someone with no medical qualifications likened a psychotic break to over-stress in the workplace. Now, of these examples only two come directly from this site. But all of the hate, misogyny, racism, phobias, etc. are displayed here on a weekly basis. Are you really that stupid?

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If it is Urban Dictionary or hire some linguistic expert to do a survey, it seems like a pretty cheap, pretty good alternative for the court.

Greg Lastowka, an intellectual property professor at Rutgers Law-Camden, suggesting that the trend of using Urban Dictionary as a tool in litigation may accelerate due to the site’s relative ease of use.

No, Grumpy Cat did not turn on her owner.

But a viral video star has traded Internet notoriety for real notoriety after being arrested on charges that he murdered a 73-year-old law firm partner. The cause of death was described as “blunt force trauma.”

The body was found Monday and now police have apprehended their suspect…

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The thing about promoting security on the Internet is that it, ostensibly, is about protecting individuals from identity theft. Sure, there are other possible harms, such as lost commerce, but the threat of stolen personal information is the primary concern of most folks.

So allowing employers to require their employees to hand over social media passwords would seem, to a reasonable observer, to be the exact opposite of a policy that promotes cybersecurity.

But in the wacky world of the House of Representatives, the majority rejected a proposal that would have barred middle managers from impersonating employees online. Because….

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Personal email accounts introduce possible threats to firm computers. A careless employee could open a trojan horse attachment and unleash a virus on the system. Even if the attack only infects the local drive, confidential information may be at risk.

This puts firms in a bind. Either invest time and energy teaching basic Internet skills to their employees — lessons like, “don’t open attachments from unknown email addresses” — that most of us learned when we still had Prodigy emails, or condescendingly cut off access to a modern necessity because the employees are too hopeless to understand the rules.

Yesterday, a major law firm chose the latter route…

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