Welcome to "On the 50 Yard Line" The Blog of Stuart L. Pardau, Attorney, Professor and Observer of Political Economy; It’s not just about football.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Good News and the Bad News for Big Law Associates

The Good News is you are employed. The Bad News is the hours are worse then ever, compensation is flat, and the prospects for getting interesting work are limited. Other than that, everything is wonderful.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Minnesota AG sues Debt Collection Agency for Health Privacy Violations

The suit, which was filed in Federal District Court in Minnesota, alleges that Accretive Health, Inc. failed to adequately safeguard patients’ protected health information (“PHI”). This failure contributed to a July 2011 information security breach when an Accretive employee left an unencrypted laptop containing information of approximately 23,500 patients in a rental car. The laptop was stolen and has not yet been recovered.


Sixth Circuit Revives Free Speech Lawsuit Over Graduate Student Firing

A federal appeals court has revived a three-year old lawsuit involving a former Eastern Michigan University student that addresses whether counselors who refuse to work with gays and lesbians on religious grounds are in breach of professional ethics.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Want to know How the U.S. Stock Market will perform in 2012? Watch the Super Bowl

Wins by original National Football League teams (like the Giants) overwhelmingly are in years where there are rallies in the market;  by contrast wins by original American Football League teams (like this year’s opposing New England Patriots) are generally in years where there are sell-offs in the market. 


The Law Firm Daily Deal?

According to a New York Bar opinion, a lawyer can market his or her services through a Groupon-esque "daily deal" provided certain disclosures and disclaimers are made.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Who Would Have Thought? Serial Exporter and Mercantilist Nation, Japan, in 2011, has first trade deficit in 31 Years

Part of this attributable to the devastating tsunami to be sure, but it also reflects the impact of the hollowing out of manufacturing in Japan and many years of "Endaka Jidai" (the "High Yen Period").


Lawyer Sues Client for Failure to Pay Finder's Fee in Movie Deal

I would be interested to see some of the defenses raised, including any violations of Professional Responsibility.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Is the U.S. already far along the painful deleveraging process?

Data from McKinsey Global Institute (concerning at least to largely to private debt) suggests that the answer might be "yes", especially relative to most countries


U.S Supreme Court Rules Police Warrant is Needed for GPS Tracker

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that police must obtain a warrant before attaching a GPS tracker to a suspect’s vehicle, voting unanimously in one of the first major cases to test constitutional privacy rights in the digital age.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Research In Motion Co-CEO Steps Down

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion's co-CEOs, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, announced Sunday they would step down as co-CEOs of the once-iconic company that has struggled to compete in recent years.


Walker Digital and MySpace Stipulate Dismissal of Patent Infringement Case

Walker Digital LLC, a company led by Priceline.com Inc. founder Jay Walker, dropped a suit alleging Myspace Inc. infringed privacy-related patents in an agreement approved by a Delaware federal judge Friday.

All claims and counterclaims between the companies were dismissed without prejudice, according to a stipulation of dismissal entered by both parties Wednesday.


The Future of America is Bright, But Government Leadership and Vision Needs to "Step Up", Joel Kotkin

The always interesting Joel Kotkin, brilliantly nails it here yet again. Most would agree that we have a dearth of leadership in both parties. A lot fewer would agree that America's future is bright, but Kotkin presents some very compelling arguments for that very view. Some highlights:  1) The U.S has its difficulties, but among the industrialized countries no country or region -- the EU, Japan, even China --- matches the U.S. either in terms of innovation but also too in robust population growth; and 2) as previously reported in this blog, the tectonic shift in the global balance of power in the sphere of energy to North America again significantly brightens the near and medium-term outlooks of the U.S.   Will the President and our Congress have the vision and courage to seize these opportunities? Alas, this is Kotkin's question.


Apple and the Future of the Textbook Business

Interesting overview. The challenge remains for the legacy publishers is how will they sell e-products at 10% to 20% of the cost of traditional books and still make money?


Friday, January 20, 2012

9th Circuit Sets Additional Standard for Contributory Infringement in Copyright and Trademark Claims

In the recent case of Louis Vuitton Malletier, S.A. v. Akanoc Solutions, Inc., 658 F.3d 936 (9th Cir. 2011), the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that a web-hosting company that owned and operated servers was liable for contributory copyright and trademark infringement when it failed to take steps to curtail alleged infringement committed by Chinese websites that used its servers.


Is it a Crime to Have Racist WIFI Network Name?

1st Amendment would almost surely say "no".  The regulatory reach of the FCC over these networks may possibly result in a "yes" answer. The Volokh Conspiracy comments on this, persuasively arguing to uphold 1st Amendment rights, even of scoundrels who pedal hate.


Should Law Schools Pay Students To Quit?

Professors a Yale Law School think so. It is an interesting and provocative idea. I think the proposal would work in the context of elite law schools, but that is probably about it.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Rights of Foreign Copyright holders

 In a 6-2 decision (with Justices Alito and Breyer dissenting), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a federal law that gave copyright protection to millions of foreign-produced books, movies and musical pieces and may undermine Google Inc.’s effort to create an online library.  This decision will also be helpful in U.S. copyright holders obtaining reciprocity in foreign jurisdictions.


Are Lawyer Temp Placement Agencies Law Firms?

Interesting posting in WSJ Law Blog, which cites recent DC Bar guidance on this issue. Bottom line: Tread carefully; DC offers good proposed disclaimer language for those in that space.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Facebook Attempt to Criminalize Conduct of Third Party Service Offering, Overreaches and Harms Innovation

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged a district court judge Tuesday to block Facebook's attempts to criminalize an add-on service that helped users aggregate all of their social networking data in one place.
Power Ventures created a web-based tool to let users view information from different social networking accounts in the same browser window, enabling them to get a complete picture of what's happening across various platforms. Facebook has been trying to kill the service for several years and is currently claiming that criminal computer intrusion laws were violated when Facebook's users logged into their Facebook accounts automatically using Power's aggregation tool. In an amicus brief filed Tuesday, EFF argues that Facebook's claims are wrong legally and dangerous as a matter of policy.


USPTO 12 Month Accelerated Examination Program May Produce Higher Quality Patents, Expert Says

According to this article, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's 12 month accelerated examination program produces higher quality patents in less time and potentially less overall cost than conventional patent examination, or even the new “Track 1″ or other accelerated examination processes.  Though, it is also a high risk process with a large upfront cost due to the need to prepare an “examination support document.”


Copyright Troll, Righthaven Finds Itself on Other End of Google

Copyright troll, Righthaven is now suffering through hard times after judges ruled it lacked standing to sue or that defendants were protected by fair use. After judges awarded defendants $216,335 in legal fees, a receiver started auctioning off Righthaven assets to cover their judgments. The State Bar of Nevada, in the meantime, is investigating conduct of three current or former Righthaven attorneys.
Righthaven is appealing several of the dismissals of its lawsuits, and an appeal in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco is where Google appeared Friday with an amicus,  friend of the court brief.
The case involves a Righthaven lawsuit against a non-profit defendant based in Portland, Ore., which had posted an entire 33-paragraph R-J story without authorization.


Credit Card Debt Declines by 11% Year Over Year


Consumers reduced credit card debt by 11% last year, and average debt loads dropped in every state.
The average credit card balance for 2011 was $6,576, down from $7,404 the previous year, according to a report from credit tracking and financial education website CreditKarma.com, based on data from more than 300,000 of its users.

Hold the Pickles, Hold the Lettuce

Burger King tests home delivery. Interesting concept; if it has any legs we will see other fast food outlets making similar efforts.


What is the Impact of "innovative" Curricula at Law Schools?

Do "clinical" programs at law schools assist students in getting entry-level jobs as DA's or PD's?  Ditto for "environmental law" programs for jobs with the EPA or in private practices that specialize in environmental law?

According to data of Professor William Henderson at the University of Indiana, the answer is "it has no impact". The question then is, is it that these programs have limited intrinsic value or do prospective employers fail to understand or appreciate their merit?


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Law Should be an Undergraduate Degree, Two Authors Say

El Al, Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and 3 Banks Have Their Networks Hacked, Websites Shut Down

Hackers recently shut down the Web sites for both the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, El Al Airlines, and three Israeli banks.


Zappos Has Major Data Security Breach

Computerworld reports that Customers' names, e-mail addresses,..addresses, phone numbers,..and their scrambled passwords may have been illegally accessed.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012

John Edwards Has Heart Condition, Seeks Delay in Criminal Corruption Trial

What is Law School for Anyway?

Recent Association of American Law Schools ("AALS") meeting floated reforms that are just "nibbling around the edges" and "re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic", says former Association of Corporate Counsel ("ACC") General Counsel, Susan Hackett.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

U.S. Slips in Economic Freedom Ranking, Behind Chile, Ireland and Maruitius

Yes, Mauritius.  Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia are ranked 1, 2 and 3, respectively. The U.S. is ranked 10th overall.


Friday, January 13, 2012

White House Seeks to Merge/Consolidate Department of Commerce, USTR, Ex-Im Bank and several other agencies

This could be a good basis to "rationalize" and "consolidate" and "streamline". I fear, however, given the Federal government's track record, this will only create an unwieldy, multi-headed monster much like, say, DHS.


Massachusetts Court Dismisses Zip Code Suit for Failure to Allege Cognizable Injury

The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts granted Michaels Stores, Inc.’s (“Michaels”) a motion to dismiss against a customer-plaintiff who alleged that Michaels’ in-store information collection practices violated Massachusetts law. Although the court ruled in Michaels’ favor, it found that customer ZIP codes do constitute personal information under Massachusetts state law when collected in the context of a credit card transaction.


Facebook: More Ads Coming

The social network began rolling out a new kind of advertisement for select users Tuesday which will show up in the main news feed, according to a report from TechCrunch. Prior to this, Facebook's advertisements appeared on the side of the page under the label "Sponsored Stories."

Aside from their placement front and center on the page, this tweak may end up blurring the lines between the promotional and personal content in your feed. As the tech blog points out, Facebook has changed the name from Sponsored Stories to Featured Stories, a subtle change that could mask the fact that the posts have been paid for.


California High-Speed Rail Project Chief and High Speed Rail Authority Board Chairman Resigns

The political and management challenges facing California's bullet train project grew more complicated Thursday, when the chief executive of the $98.5-billion effort suddenly announced his resignation, just months before construction was supposed to begin.
Roelof van Ark, 60, an engineering manager with considerable international high-speed rail experience, announced his departure, raising new questions about the program's stability at a crucial juncture. At the same time, Thomas Umberg, a former state legislator, said he was stepping down as chairman of the California High Speed Rail Authority board, which is directing the project.

Prediction: This is going to get ugly.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Bananas! Velvet Underground sues Warhol Foundation for Trademark Infringement

The Velvet Underground sued a foundation that manages artist Andy Warhol’s legacy on Wednesday in a trademark dispute over the influential New York-based rock band’s iconic cover for its 1967 album “The Velvet Underground & Nico.”


USC Has Highest California Bar Passage Rate Among California Law Schools; Thomas Jefferson Law School Is Dead Last Among ABA Accredited Law Schools

More "elite" law schools Stanford (91.1%), Berkeley (88.9%) and UCLA (84.9%) all scored below USC.  Widely perceived Tier 2 or even Tier 3 Law School, Pepperdine (86.3%) ranked ahead of UCLA.

But the most disturbing data points relate to the firms that ranked at or towards the bottom of the heap.

Elie Mystal from the "Above the Law" really nails it as it relates to Thomas Jefferson Law School. Says he:

"These numbers show that the oft-maligned Thomas Jefferson School of Law has clearly not been maligned enough. TJSL charges people $40,100 per year in tuition, and two out of three graduates failed the bar the first time around. No wonder this school is getting sued. No wonder people act like the school is a complete joke. No wonder its very existence as an accredited law school makes the entire process of ABA-accreditation look like a complete farce.
In my opinion, a 33% pass rate should result in an immediate revocation of accreditation status and, if there were any justice in this world of rank profiteers, a full refund for the students who paid for a service that so failed to meet their needs. Note that the next lowest school passed over half of their first-time test takers!
I’ll take the Pepsi challenge with those numbers right now. Give me 10 Thomas Jefferson Law students for a year and I’ll find a way to get more than three of them to pass the California bar. Christ on an index card — it’s the bar exam, not organic chemistry. THERE IS NO MATH. Hearsay exceptions, memorize them; two questions down, 198 to go."


Capitol Records (EMI) files copyright infringement suit against Digital Music Resale Company, ReDigi

Capitol Records (EMI) has filed a copyright infringement suit against digital music resale company ReDigi.

The suit, filed late Friday in New York federal court, claims that Cambridge, Mass.-based ReDigi -- established in October as a marketplace for "used" digital music files -- is nothing more than "a clearinghouse for copyright infringement and a business model built on widespread, unauthorized copying of sound recordings."

ReDigi typically resells tracks for 79¢ (vs. the 99¢ usually charged at minimum by such online stores as iTunes and Amazon), and takes a fee of 5% to 15%, according to the suit.

Capitol denies ReDigi's assertion that its resale activity is protected under the first-sale doctrine.

Capitol's action seeks preliminary and permanent injunctive relief; any profits attributable to ReDigi's alleged infringements; maximum statutory damages of $150,000 per copyrighted work infringed; and compensatory and punitive damages to be determined at trial.


Intelligent Life in the Universe and the Primacy of Politics

Columnist Charles Krauthammer succinctly, yet brilliantly, weaves together seemingly disparate notions ("Is there other life in the universe" and "Politics here on earth") into some breathtaking insights.  If there is life on other planets and given the high mathematical probability of life existing not just on one, but on many other planets in our galaxy, Krauthammer asks, how come we haven't found it yet?

One troubling conclusion which Krauthammer puts out there is that one of the reasons is that life on other planets may have killed themselves off.   We know from our human experience that that is a real possibility for us as a species. Krauthammer's point is that as messy and as distasteful as politics often is, it is the primary vessel through which people  interact. We will either get it right or not. But the "it" will be done through the vessel of politics. It is important stuff and Krauthammer's piece is an important reminder that it is not hyperbole that the hope of all intelligent life rests upon it.


It Really Stinks: 1/3 of People Fall out of Middle Class, Pew Says

Nearly one third of Americans who were raised in the middle class dropped down the economic ladder as adults, Pew Research says. 


Dramatic Decline in California Taxpayers Earning Over $500,000

Tax returns with adjusted gross incomes topping $500,000 fell to 98,610 in 2009, the latest year available, from a recent peak of 146,221 two years earlier, according to data from the Franchise Tax Board, the state agency that collects income and corporate taxes.

That is a precipitous and dramatic decline, no doubt attributable, in major part, to the Financial and Real Estate meltdown of 2008. That said, there are very likely concurrent causes including the overtaxation  and over-regulation of the job creating class, which has been leaving in the state in large numbers.


Costco Sells Cars -- A lot of them

Claiming more than 1 million completed new-car purchases during the past five years, the Costco Auto Program is one of the largest buying programs around. 


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Simplified Process Is in the Works for Bringing Smaller Copyright Infringement Cases

At the end of October, Congress asked the Copyright Office to study the problems surrounding small copyright disputes. The results, which involve the establishment of a small claims court, could have major implications for artists who use appropriated material as well as those whose material is appropriated by others.  
Under the Copyright Act o all copyright infringement claims — whether they concern a blockbuster Hollywood movie or an individual photograph — must be brought to federal court. The high legal fees associated with this process often dissuade individual copyright holders from filing a lawsuit, and can bankrupt defendants. (In 2011, for instance, the median cost for litigating a copyright-infringement lawsuit with less than $1 million at risk was $350,000, according to the Federal Register.) When the reward is likely to be small, the protracted legal process doesn’t help, either: the median duration of a federal case that went trial in 2009 and 2010 was 23 months.
The copyright office is soliciting comments from the public through January 16 to help it write the report, which it will then pass on to the Congressional Subcommittee on the Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property.


Google/Twitter Wars

A 2009 agreement, allowing Google to offer a real-time feed of Twitter messages within its search results, expired in July 2011.  Twitter is complaining that due to changes  implemented yesterday in Google search algorithms, Twitter feeds and Twitter news now receives a lot lower rankings.
Google also said it was abiding by code embedded within certain Twitter messages instructing search engines not to rank the messages within their search results.
What is driving this is the fact Google launched a social network in June,  Google+, that offers many of the capabilities available on Twitter and on Facebook.
With Tuesday's changes to Google's search engine, photos and posts from Google+ will increasingly appear within the search results.
The changes effectively create customized search results for people who are logged in to Google. 
Twitter's general counsel, Alex Macgillivray, a former Google attorney, said in a Tweet on Tuesday that Google's changes "warped" Web searches and represented a "bad day for the Internet."


Growing Foreign Investment in U.S. Energy Industry

As I blogged on earlier, the energy resources global balance of power is shifting to North America. This is having, and will continue to have profound broader geopolitical and global economic impacts.


Former Sullivan & Cromwell Lawyer Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Tax Evasion

Federal  prosecutors in Manhattan had alleged that John J. O’Brien, a former partner at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, avoided reporting or paying taxes on more than $10 million income over a period of more than eight years. Prosecutors said he instead used the money to help fund a rare books and manuscripts business operated by his partner, as well as for international travel and renovations on a weekend home in the Adirondacks.  O'Brien will serve a two year prison term.


Maker of Wonder Bread, Twinkies Getting Ready to File Bankruptcy

These iconic and once ubiquitous brands are now so passe, sooo 1960s and 1970s.  Who do you know who today eats Wonder bread?

 I recall as a child, my non-American born parents, being appalled at the very sight of it. The few times I tasted it -- many years ago -- I found it to be wanting in most every way, in taste and particularly in texture. My most enduring memory however is the fact that I could squeeze a loaf of Wonder bread first like an accordion, then into a ball-like shape. Now that is malleability.


Grandma and Reindeer in Court over Copyright Infringement

The Law.com Reports that:

"Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" never goes away, and at least for now, neither is litigation over the holiday novelty song. Last Wednesday a federal district court judge refused to dismiss a copyright infringement action brought by Elmo Shropshire, who first performed "Grandma" in 1979. The decision leaves Shropshire free to continue his suit against Aubrey Canning, Jr., who uploaded a version of the song to YouTube four years ago. Both sides have high-powered counsel: DLA Piper is representing Shropshire, and The Lanier Law Firm has been advising Canning.http://www.law.com/jsp/cc/PubArticleCC.jsp?id=1202537771812&Holidays_Are_Over_But_Grandma_and_Reindeer_Linger_in_Copyright_Court

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Shame on you, Time Warner Cable

One person's experience to be sure but I have had (and actually still in the middle of) a complete bluster-muck with the excellent Time Warner Cable. My wife had made the simple request that we swap out our DVR service which we rarely use. It was a simple service call, just swapping one box for another. Three and one-half hours later the two polite, but I am afraid clueless, service men are still here. First it was that they brought the wrong box. Then the box they did bring could not work. Following that the cable guy couldn't figure out how to use the remote. The remote! A cable guy. It would be like telling me as a lawyer, asking for help in how to read the title page or caption of a simple agreement. Then, seemingly, all is ok. Both TV's worked. I signed the appropriate papers, fatigued after what was then 2 hours of punishment, but relieved. Within one minute after leaving one of the TV's stopped working. Wait!!! I sprinted outside to catch the cable guy and tell of him of my sad plight. He returned to the house with his partner in tow who immediately advised him that of course it was not working because he had installed the incorrect box!  Now, coming on four hours they are still here. Maybe D-Day, Operation Desert Storm or Shock and Awe took as much sweat and effort.

This is not rocket science, Time Warner.  Your customer service sucks and your cable people, while polite, are poorly trained and incompetent. Spend the time and money to train your people.  Start with the equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath for Physicians: " Do No Harm". Do no harm, to your customers, Time Warner, start with that. Don't waste their flipping time and cause them needless aggravation.  There is too little time and sufficient aggravation in this world already.   Get a clue -- and fast.

Facebook Gets Grilled Before Congress on Privacy Issues

Despite the recent consent decree and settlement with the Federal Trade Commission on these very issues, the actual and perceived conduct of Facebook in terms of privacy brand promises remain deeply troubled.


Copyright Troll Complains About Scorched Earth Policies

Creditors — including people sued by Righthaven for copyright infringement but who then defeated Righthaven in court — have won $216,335 in judgments against Righthaven. That’s money they spent on legal fees successfully fighting Righthaven.
In the latest round of legal wrangling, Righthaven filed motions in federal court in Las Vegas on Monday complaining about what it called the “scorched earth judgment enforcement efforts” of Righthaven defendant Wayne Hoehn and his attorneys.


Comeback: General Motors Likely to Overtake Toyota as Number One in Global Sales

Overtaking troubled Toyota, General Motors is poised to once again be No. 1 in global auto sales, after three years out of the top spot.
It's a comeback that will be official when final 2011 sales figures are reported in the coming weeks. 


PhoneDog LLC Case and Employer vs. Employee Proprietary Interest in LinkIn Accounts

I had previously blogged on this case; the defendant in the case filed a motion in Federal Court in California asking the court to take judicial notice of another related case in Pennsylvania.


How To Fix Copyright: From the Volokh Conspiracy

SOPA: An example of Why the Movie Industry Cannot Innovate

This interesting posting from Steve Blank which I first saw in Instapundit.


Conservative Law School Professors Need Affirmative Action, Says Above the Law's Elie Mystal

From Above the Law:

"i’m going to be intellectually consistent as well. I think conservative profs should sue, and they should demand that the same kind of diversity we see applied to women or minorities when it comes to academic hiring decisions be extended to conservatives, too. Conservatives writ large aren’t a protected class, but the conservative law professor is damn near an endangered species. They need help, not because they are genetically predisposed to be crappy law professors, but because years of discrimination against them tell conservative legal minds to find something else to do besides become a law professor. There are lots of places where conservative principles are welcome, but legal academia isn’t one of them.
To combat that, they should get a plus factor. Just like with racial affirmative action, you can’t have a quota system. You can’t say “at least 20% of your tenured faculty must vote for Rick Santorum...
Granted, I think conservatives should have to ask for the help, but that’s just because I think making them beg for it would give them a little bit of an insight into how horrible it is to be in need of public assistance in this country, yet have to listen to freaking former hedge fund managers condescend about their work ethic, but that’s just me..."


America's Addiction to Spending

Root cause #1: Easy money; Root cause #2: Easy money.


Amazon agrees to "pay up" in the Hoosier State

Indiana's biggest online retailer, Amazon.com, Inc will begin paying sales taxes on Internet purchases in 2014, that could bring another $20-$25 million in yearly revenue to state coffers.
 Gov Mitch Daniels announced the deal Monday, that also settles a lawsuit filed against Amazon  by Simon Properties, that giant mall owner that has properties in Muncie, Indianapolis, and elsewhere in the country.
 "The only complete answer to this problem is a federal solution that treats all retailers and all states the same," said Daniels


Monday, January 9, 2012

Congress Breaks, SOPA Soap Opera Continues

Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, has been outspoken against the efforts.
The bills "give the U.S. government and copyright holders extraordinary powers including the ability to hijack DNS (the Internet's naming system) and censor search results (and this is even without so much as a proper court trial)," Brin wrote last month on his Google+ page as Congress was considering the measures. "While I support their goal of reducing copyright infringement (which I don't believe these acts would accomplish), I am shocked that our lawmakers would contemplate such measures that would put us on a par with the most oppressive nations in the world."
The list of companies that signed off on a NetCoalition statement condemning SOPA reads like a who's-who of the Internet. Yahoo, Zynga, Twitter, eBay, Foursquare, AOL, Mozilla, Etsy and LinkedIn are just some of the names


Actress Sues Internet Movie Database (IMDb) for...Revealing her Age!

As reported from "Above the Law":
"... the Internet Movie Database, aka IMDb, found itself under attack for revealing an actress’s age and “real Asian name.” Kash detailed the charges last October. A few weeks ago, we noted that the woman would have to put up (her name) or shut up (legally speaking).
Well, I don’t want to waste any more of your precious time. The grand reveal is finally here.
After the jump, pictures of an attractive Asian woman….

Well, dear readers, we all struck out. If we had merely thought back to the time we had that really rad slumber party and watched all those great movies, we would have distinctly remembered the “young” woman who portrayed Ghetto Girl Three in Hoodrats 2: Hoodrat Warriors. You’ve already guessed her name, haven’t you? Yep, Junie Hoang."


Is AT&T Wireless Service Actually Getting Better?

I don't know, but as an iPhone user with AT&T service, maybe the power of suggestion is very strong here, but now that it is mentioned, I have detected some nominal improvements in service. That said my last dealing with their customer service was rather unpleasant.


Second Circuit Overturns Refco Lawyer Conviction

A lawyer convicted for his role in a multi-billion dollar fraud at defunct commodities broker Refco Inc.,will get a new trial, a federal appeals court said on Monday. Click here for the Second Circuit’s opinion.
Joseph Collins, a one-time Mayer Brown partner and a long-time lawyer at Refco, was convicted in July 2009 of helping the owners and executives at the defunct commodities broker in a scheme to steal more than $2 billion by concealing its financial troubles. He was sentenced to seven years in prison. 


More on ABA President, Bill Robinson's Out of Touch Attitudes relative to the Plight of Law Students

Above the Law's Elie Mystal, has the following biting commentary:

"Robinson had the grace and the courage to tell law students it was their own fault for the rampant price gouging that happens as a result of the ABA’s ineffective oversight of law schools. It took real strength of character for Robinson to share this anecdote: “When I was going to law school . . . I sold my Corvair to make first-semester tuition and books for $330.” I mean, how many people in Robinson’s position would be so out of touch that they think prospective law students are driving automobiles that can cover a whole semester of tuition at an American law school!
That’s right, future 1Ls, don’t get too used to your Jaguar XKR. Don’t become too attached to your Lexus hybrid. You’ll need to sell your luxury automobile to pay for law school. D’uh!"


Novartis Issues Over the Counter Drug Recall

Pharmaceutical company Novartis on Sunday voluntarily recalled a number of over-the-counter drugs -- including certain bottles of Excedrin and Bufferin -- because of complaints about mislabeled and broken pills.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Stanford Student Reviews "Free" Classes Offered to Non-Stanford Students

Linked from Instapundit, a rather remarkable posting from a Stanford student on the new University program allowing the general public to take Stanford courses at no cost to them. Could this be the beginning of the erosion of the value of spending the $50K a year in tuition for a prestigious, undergraduate degree? This commentator seems to think so.


Upromise, Inc. Settles with FTC regarding charges that its Web-browser toolbar collected consumer PII without adequate disclosure

A membership reward service aimed at consumers trying to save money for college has agreed to settle FTC charges and will be barred from its allegedly deceptive practice of using a web-browser toolbar to collect consumers' personal information without adequately disclosing the extent of the information it is collecting.
The settlement with Upromise Inc. is part of the FTC's ongoing efforts to make sure that companies live up to the promises they make about privacy and data security. The settlement order will require Upromise to clearly disclose its data collection practices and obtain consumers' consent before installing or re-enabling any such toolbar products, and to notify consumers how to uninstall the toolbars already on their computers. The settlement also will bar misrepresentations about the extent to which the company maintains the privacy and security of consumers' personal information, and require the company to establish a comprehensive information security program and to obtain biennial independent security assessments for the next 20 years.


Do Employers Have a Proprietary Interest in an Employee's Linked In Account?

Maybe, yes, says a Federal Court in Philadelphia. This is a similar fact pattern to the Federal Court in the Northern District of California ruling regarding a former employee's Twitter account and which I previously blogged on.


MPAA and RIAA Still Going Aggressively After P2P Copyright Infringer, Jammie Thomas

In its appeal against the file-sharing mom Jammie Thomas, the RIAA has asked the court to reinstate a massive fine which U.S. District Judge Michael Davis previously slashed because it was “monstrous and shocking.” The music group argues that awards as high as $1.5 million for sharing 24 songs are appropriate and constitutional. In their appeal, the RIAA is joined by the MPAA who also want to overthrow the standing verdict.


ADP Payroll Numbers Show 325,000 Private Sector New Jobs for December, 125,000 more than Government Figures

If these ADP numbers are even remotely accurate -- and I am inclined to believe they are -- 325,000 private sector jobs were created in December 2011. That is approximately 200,000 more jobs than the 125,000 to 150,000 number widely accepted just to maintain or keep job growth even with population growth.


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Petition Filed to SCOTUS to review John Wiley & Sons, Inc. First Sale Doctrine Case

Public Knowledge (PK), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), and U.S. Interest Public Interest Group asked the Supreme Court today to review a lower court decision in the case John Wiley & Sons, Inc. v. Kirtsaeng that could have major implications for the first sale doctrine and the ability of libraries to offer foreign-made books on their shelves.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in August that Supap Kirtsaeng, a Thai man studying in the United States, infringed upon John Wiley & Sons’ copyrights when he had his family send him cheaper foreign editions of Wiley textbooks, printed by Wiley Asia, that he then resold on eBay for a profit.
Kirtsaeng has argued that the first sale doctrine gave him the right to resell the textbooks, but the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled against this argument in October 2009 and awarded John Wiley $600,000 in statutory damages. The Second Circuit upheld that decision.


American Airlines is Target of Major Phishing Scam

American Airlines is warning consumers to be on the lookout for phishing scams after being forwarded fraudulent emails by other patrons.


Friday, January 6, 2012

Employment Outlook Shows Improvement

Nonfarm payrolls increased 200,000 in December, the Labor Department said on Friday. It was the biggest rise in three months and beat economists' expectations for a 150,000 gain.
The unemployment rate dropped from a revised 8.7 percent in November to its lowest level since February 2009.
I have not yet seen the ADP numbers which I have long maintained are the most reliable. Also, to keep even with the growth of the employee work force, approximately 125,000 to 150,000 new jobs need to be created each month. The 200,000 number obviously beats that.


The Buffett Effect: An Analysis of Why Mitt Romney is Not Releasing his Tax Returns

TPM has an interesting analysis as to what Governor Romney's tax returns almost certainly show:  Like most high net worth people, very simply a lot of income generated from long-term capital gains and dividends, both taxed (at the federal level) at 15% and throw in a reasonable amount of tax free muni bonds, and TPM guesstimates an effective rate for the Romney's at 14%, which would put them at a similar rate of your average W-2'er who earns $60,000.  Kind of a silly result, but this a predictable outcome of a tax code which differentiates so markedly between wage income vs. "investment income"; hence, the term,  the "Buffet effect".

At this point, it makes political sense for the Governor to release the tax returns so that the speculation and discussion can end.  The fact that his returns will almost certainly show he pays these lower rates is not a reflection on him, but rather instead on a skewed tax code system.  Indeed, if handled effectively it could even be turned into an opportunity for the campaign.


Taxpayers Earning $1 Million or more a year have a 1 in 8 chance of being audited by the IRS


The IRS audited one out of every 8 millionaires last year, the third year in a row the agency has ramped up its enforcement of the nation's top earners. About 12.5% of all taxpayers earnings one million dollars or more were dealt audits during fiscal 2011-- the highest enforcement rate since at least 2004, according to IRS enforcement statistics released Thursday. That's up from a rate of 8.4% in 2010 and 6.4% in 2009.

Taxpayers making more than $200,000 a year were also at a higher risk of audit last year. One in 25 of these high income earners were audited in 2011, compared to about one in 32 in 2010, according to the IRS.
But the odds of getting audited were significantly slimmer for people reporting less than $200,000 in income, with only one in 98 of these taxpayers going through the audit process last year.

The Oracle from Mt. Olympus: Former CEO, Woodford to file Wrongful Discharge Case

Woodford told a group of journalists on Friday that he would sue Olympus for unfair dismissal and had instructed his lawyers to begin legal action in Britain. Olympus said in October it was sacking Woodford because he had failed to understand the company's management style and Japanese culture.

Woodford, who fled to England after his sacking citing unspecified safety concerns, said the trauma suffered by his wife after he went public with his campaign played a major part in his decision to drop his bid to return to Olympus.

Olympus is being investigated by Japanese police, prosecutors and regulators and U.S. and British authorities over the scandal, in which the firm used dodgy M&A deals to hide investment losses stretching back over two decades.

The scandal at the 92-year-old firm revived concerns about lax corporate governance at Japanese companies generally and sparked speculation that organized crime syndicates were involved in the cover-up.


Pepsi Says Mountain Dew Ingredients Would Dissolve Mouse Carcass Over Time

Well, if I am Pepsi, I guess I have some good news and some bad news. First the good news: Our experts say there is no way a mouse carcass could remain for any period of time in a Mountain Dew can, creating an inference that the plaintiff who is alleging he found the said mouse is a damn liar.

Now for the bad news: Those ingredients. In that Mountain Dew can. Can dissolve a mouse carcass. Pretty Quickly. Fine, but if so, what the heck is that Mountain Dew I just chugged doing to my tongue, my teeth, my throat, my stomach and my digestive tract? I don't want to know. In fact, I am so disgusted I don't want to ever drink Mountain Dew again. Case closed.


Japanese Must Tap Their Inner Israeli. Dekiru Ka?

Interesting op-ed piece from Glenn Newman on the fact that while both countries are islands (literally in the case of Japan, metaphorically in the case of Israel) beyond that similarity the cultures and countries could not be more different. Newman proffers 4 learnings for Japan based on the Israel experience:

1) More innovation and entrepreneurship
2) Global thinking
3) Create flat organizational structures (move away from "top down", command decision-making hierarchies)
4) Ease immigration restrictions

All obviously easier said that done, but within Japan there is a lot of intellectual horsepower and despite declining birthrates, there is still a critical mass of people of well over 100 million people.  With the likes of Rakuten founder, Hiroshi Mikitani,  mentioned in Newman's article, and who I met with when he was just starting out in circa 1998, the role models and templates exist for others to emulate.


United Kingdom Watchdog Fines PWC 1.4 million pound sterling for Slipshod Audit of JP Morgan

A U.K. disciplinary board has hit auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP with a record fine of £1.4 million ($2.2 million) for wrongly telling British financial regulators that the securities wing of JPMorgan Chase & Co. was properly handling its clients' money, regulators announced Thursday.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Amy Chua (AKA "TIger Mom") Backs Off

Around this time last year, Yale Law Professor, Amy Chua, created quite a stir with her Wall Street Journal essay on her "Tiger Mom" parenting philosophy, which was a cocktail of Confucianism,  1st generation immigrant drive to succeed, OCD, Ivy League over-achieving and just a good old-fashioned desire to exaggerate and generate a little publicity. Stuff like, no play dates, no TV or video games, requirements to get all "A's" and so on. I recall her essay as being so over the top, I thought it was a parody, and I remain convinced there was definitely some tongue and cheek at work. Well, now it seems Tiger Mom is mellowing out somewhat, at least that is the message conveyed in this most recent interview.

I do think there is need for serious discussion on this topic since there are some important grains of wisdom in Chua's approach (primarily the message that hard work and focus at an early age breeds self-confidence, discipline and judgment that can lead to earlier independence and success at a much earlier age). It is a shame that there is so much other "over the top" stuff with some of her statements, that it detracts from the core, fundamental message of hard work, focus, discipline and achievement.


Doctors Who are Suffering Financially

Doctors list shrinking insurance reimbursements, changing regulations, rising business and drug costs among the factors preventing them from keeping their practices afloat. But some experts counter that doctors' lack of business acumen is also to blame, CNN reports.


ABA President to UnHappy, Unemployed Law School Graduates: In this economy, "You should have known"

I am all for "tough love"and for taking responsibility for one's actions, but the sight of William Robinson, President of the ABA basically telling law graduates to pound sand on claims that law schools deceived them (and the the entire infrastructure that supports them, including the ABA), is way out of line.  Any exaggerations or material mis-statements are positioned as "outliers" and "exceptions".  Would Mr. Robinson be so cavalier in his assessment if we were talking about material mis-statements and omissions if we were talking about say, the Oil or Banking industries? The fact is employment statistics at many law schools were misleading, young impressionable students did rely on them and many entered law school and incurred substantial debt under the pretext of employment opportunities that were not nearly as strong as advertised.


Juror Booted for "Friending" Defendant

Not surprisingly, there have been a lot of recent cases involving social media and jurors; in terms of abuses, this one appears to be among the most egregious.

Here, the juror, Jacob Jock, was in a jury pool for a personal injury lawsuit involving a traffic accident, and said he decided to look up people in the case to see if he knew them. When he came across the female defendant’s profile, Jock claims he “accidentally friend requested her,” when he didn’t think he’d get picked for the jury.  After getting kicked off the jury, Jock dug an even deeper hole for himself by posting some inane comments on Facebook about getting kicked off. In terms of sanctions/punishments against him, nothing appears to have been done.  Based on these limited facts, there should have been.


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