As many of you figured out, the cease and desist letter from Chris Webby, claiming ownership of the hashtag #webby, was an April Fool’s hoax. This week’s sign that the apocalypse is upon was a hologram launched by the Webby Awards people. Here’s the official reveal.
Really, we thought a few more of our loyal readers would see through it. The firm that purportedly sent the letter, Baxter, Butler & Associates, doesn’t exist. This commenter got it. But I guess most commenters don’t fire up Google unless an attractive girl is involved.
You can see why the Webbys weren’t able to get a real law firm to participate in this prank. It might have been a joke today, but the first hashtag infringement suit is surely just around the corner.
Happy April Fool’s Day. I’m going to go back to drinking heavily now.
When Washington, D.C., was buried in snow last week, one suburban Maryland school alerted parents via robocall that they would be opening two hours late. The call, hypothetically letting parents know that they could sleep in that day, went out at 4:30 a.m.
That angered privacy lawyer Aaron Titus. His well-told tale of revenge reverberated around the media last week, thanks to a story in the Washington Post. Titus went Robocop on the school, using an online robocalling company to place a 4:30 a.m. call to the home phones of nine school board members, the school superintendent, and the school’s chief lawyer the next day, letting them know he hadn’t appreciated the early morning wake-up call. (The school said it made a mistake in setting the time for the calls and that it should have gone out at the immensely more reasonable hours of 5 or 6 a.m.)
Titus tweeted that he was following the Golden Rule. Meanwhile, other laws were possibly ignored…
Social media savvy teen causes national controversy in Australia
‘Tis the season for… lover’s revenge via the Internet. Last week, Elie brought you the tale of a cuckolded man who filmed his wife making out with a fellow SMU Law student (and intervened to throw a weak punch). Then the husband posted the sad, sordid video to YouTube. Because shame makes the hurt go away.
Meanwhile, over in the land down under, a 17-year-old in Melbourne is using her social network savvy to punish a couple of Australian football players who allegedly did her wrong. Kim Duthie claims to have scored with two of the players (and to have had a miscarriage as a result). Feeling used and abused, she’s now using all the digital tools at her disposal — Facebook, YouTube, Formspring, and Twitter — to broadcast her story, as well as a handful of naked photos of the St. Kilda football players. This girl makes Karen Owen look like a saint.
And apparently she didn’t think through the legal implications of putting photos of the football players’ “lands down under” up on her Facebook page…
This is probably a joke. In fact, I’m almost sure this is a joke. Law school women don’t really talk like this, not on Craigslist. And law school guys are more than capable of satisfying their female classmates.
Wait a minute, that last line is false — almost entirely false. Crap, does that make this Craigslist ad real?
I don’t know. There’s a Craigslist ad, purportedly from a Seton Hall law student, that’s making the rounds among people who check out things on Craigslist and then email Above the Law.
Give it a look, then give me your true/false sensibility…
The Verrazano Bridge to Staten Island -- the orignal "bridge to nowhere."
Don’t you hate it when rich people try to welsh on a bet? British billionaire Alki David dared somebody to streak — that means “running while naked and probably drunk,” if you’ve never been to college — in front of President Obama. Alki said he’d give the person who streaked in front of the president, with the name of Alki’s website emblazoned on his or her body, the tidy sum of $1 million.
Somebody from Staten Island (why am I not surprised) performed the feat (or substantially attempted to perform the feat) during an Obama event in Pennsylvania. Now Alki is considering hiding behind the law to avoid payment.
This must be how rich people get rich: make outlandish promises, then use fancy law talk to avoid payment…
Molly Wei didn't stop her friend for using her computer; now she could end up in jail.
Prosecutors looking into Tyler Clementi suicide indicated yesterday that they might not be able to charge Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei with a hate crime. Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan told the Newark Star-Ledger that his office was trying to see if they could charge Ravi and Wei with a second degree bias crime, but so far they don’t have enough evidence to support such a charge.
Right now, Ravi and Wei are charged with invasion of privacy, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail.
Given that some people have pushed for prosecution that goes all the way up to homicide charges, the possibility that Ravi and Wei won’t be charged with a hate crime (or burned at the stake, or whatever the hell will satisfy people’s revenge impulse) will disappoint many — perhaps including prosecutor Kaplan, who said: “Sometimes the laws don’t always adequately address the situation. That may come to pass here.”
And sometimes the public’s outrage completely outstrips the actual crime committed. I’ve already shared my thoughts about Dharun Ravi’s crime. Now let’s take a closer look at Molly Wei — a girl who, as far as we know, is guilty of letting a high school buddy use her computer…
Over the past few days, we’ve learned a lot about Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers college student and talented violinist who killed himself after his roommate streamed, live on the internet, a hidden webcam video of Tyler hooking up with another man. On September 22, a few days after the incident, Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.
Former ATL editor Kashmir Hill has learned even more. She’s been tracking Clementi’s digital footprints, and found that he went to a message board for gay men seeking counsel after he learned of his roommate’s prank.
I used the word “prank” because that’s how I see the actions of Tyler Clementi’s roommate, Dharun Ravi. Ravi is an 18-year-old kid in his first semester at college. Along with a friend, Molly Wei, Ravi pulled a prank on his new roommate — one that went horribly wrong.
Because Clementi killed himself, the media has worked itself into a rabid lather over Ravi’s and Wei’s actions. The story was all over the New York Times yesterday. Michael Daly criticized Ravi so harshly I thought I was reading about some kind of modern day Billy Zabka in the New York Daily News this morning. Some gay rights groups want Ravi to be charged with a hate crime.
Before we crucify this college freshman, I have a couple of questions…
No, this isn’t about a lawsuit arising out of the writing of Animal Farm II: Sharks on Retainer — but who knows, my original thought for a post title might be subject to trademark infringement.
More on that later; for now, let’s turn our attention to this delicious product offered by ThinkGeek (which went on sale April 1, 2010):
As a connoisseur of unicorn delicacies, I was annoyed when the ThinkGeek people exposed this product to the general pubic. We’ve already got the Care Bears on our ass; we certainly don’t need PETA getting wind of this tasty treat.
But who knew that this entirely fictional April Fool’s joke would come to the attention of the National Pork Board and their legal representatives at Faegre & Benson…
UC-Berkeley once again topped Michigan in the (leaked so still unofficial) U.S. News law school rankings. Boalt Hall also dominated the Wolverines this month when it comes to secret society activity.
Whereas, members of Michigan’s “Barrister’s Society” threw their dirty laundry o’er the rooftops, resulting in campus-wide derision, recent activities by Berkeley’s “Gun Club” have left their fellow students appropriately mystified and intrigued.
A Boaltie tells us:
Last week, flyers featuring John Yoo’s face, with the phrase “I’m sorry, for everything” were posted around Boalt Hall.
Everyone assumed it was just the usual torture-memo protesters who flock to Berkeley, in the hope that it’s still the Bezerkeley of the 1960s, only to find a bunch of JD and MBA students hurrying by, scowling at their unshowered ways.
On Tuesday morning, the flyer reappeared in the student center, attached to the King of Beers….
April 1 is a dangerous date. It’s a day when punking people becomes the national sport. It’s not just traditional pranksters like College Humor marking the holiday. Law firms and law schools have been getting in on the fun today as well.
Shortly after your ATL editors got back from lunch, we got an alarmed email from a Columbia Law student, upset about Columbia’s plan to block some popular websites starting Monday:
When the Dean’s Advisory Committee addressed the Senate last month, it conveyed the faculty’s concern regarding student inattention and declining participation in class. The consensus among professors is that in-class Internet use is the primary cause.
Yesterday, we were informed that IT will begin blocking access to certain Internet sites inside the Law School’s three main buildings, while classes are meeting. Selective site blocking is scheduled to begin Monday morning. Among the 2-3 dozen sites affected are Facebook, Gmail and Above the Law. Others may be added later.
We’re honored to be part of that Holy Trifecta of websites, though Elie was initially quite upset at Columbia — until he visited the linked website and “got Rick-rolled for the first time in years.” Judging from the flood of emails we’ve gotten, he’s far from the only one.
Weil Gotshal and Yale Law School also performed some prestigious pranks. You’d think legal types’ natural cynicism would help protect them today. But you’d be wrong…
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The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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