Blawg Review #71
Welcome to the seventy-first edition of the Blawg Review. To our regular readers who don’t know what this Blawg Review thing is, you can learn about it here. And to our new readers coming here specifically because we’re hosting the Blawg Review, pull up a chair and take a load off - the only rule here is no open bar (because we all know lawyers are lushes and y’all would drink us into bankruptcy). Old readers and new alike, you’re here for one thing - to learn about what the blawgers have had to say for themselves over the last week (and maybe to actually learn a little something-something). Well, to quote the immortal words of Dennis Hopper in Speed, it’s time for a a “pop quiz, hotshot.”
Do state governor’s have to follow the same copyright laws as everyone else?
Well, if you ask Pennsylvania Governor Rendell, he might say no. Seems he snaked an editorial from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and republished it, wholesale, on his website. As reported by PHOSITA, this led to a war between Rendell’s campaign and the paper, arguing over the merits of copyright law and fair use. The moral of the story? Mess with the bull and you get the horns, but mess with the newspaper and you get the scathing editorials.
So can I start a fantasy league using the names and voting records of various state governors?
Relying on the brand new precedent of C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing, Inc. v. Major League Baseball Advanced Media, L.P., there would not appear to be any IP concerns, so have at it you wild and crazy guys. This case stemmed from a lawsuit brought by Major League Baseball, looking to cash in on the ever-expanding fantasy baseball fad. The MLB claimed that fantasy leagues owed it a licensing fee to use player names and stats. The Court saw things otherwise, finding no copyright or right of publicity concerns and, as Sportsbiz put it, “[t]his decision enables hundreds of small operators to stay in business and limits the ability of all the major professional leagues to capitalize monetarily on fantasy games growing popularity.” So feel free to draft Rendell in the early rounds of your Governor’s League; but as with fantasy football, you should definitely keep your eyes on the stud wide receivers (Lynn Swann, in this case; although he’s quickly losing ground to a resurgent Rendell).
Ok - so far, so good. Now, can I call my new Governor’s League the “G-Pod League?”
According to Apple, absolutely not! It thinks that the widespread popularity of its iPod entitles it to sole and exclusive use of the word “pod” in all trademarks. A third-year law student up in Wisconsin, R. Enochs, says that he thinks about “Pods storage units” when he hears the word “pod,” so he doesn’t buy into Apple’s claims. For us, the term “pod” immediately brings to mind the notion of “pod people,” but R. Enochs’ underlying sentiment seems right.
Fantasy games are good and all, but how about something a little more serious?
You want serious? Ok, how’s the prosecution of child abuse cases - that serious enough for you? According to the poignant poetry of a former Bronx DA over at Prosecutor Post-Script, the gig can be a bit soul-crushing, leading one to look for a “mundane” firm job because “I’m just tired of looking at dead ten-year-olds.”
Uhm, ok, that might’ve been a little too serious - maybe something lighthearted and “wacky?”
This week, the California Court of Appeal decided to throw the smackdown on some folks. As The Legal Reader puts it, “either of these decisions is more entertaining than your average airport novel, not to mention anything you’re likely to find on TV during the ungodly hours when you might actually find time to stare at it.” With an endorsement like that, how can you afford not to click on over there this very second? Don’t worry, we’ll wait for you before moving on.
Hey, speaking of California - here’s one for you: in California, do billboards have a right to be seen?
I would chide you for asking a stupid question but for the fact that we’re talking about California, where there’s no such thing as a stupid question, only stupid public representatives (more on that in a second). Seems that there’s been an ongoing battle over a billboard put up back in 2000, which has since found its viewability obscured by city-planted trees. As May It Please the Court explains, the California Supreme Court has had its final say on the matter and ruled, unequivocally, that the city of Los Angeles had every right to plant its trees and that there’s absolutely no such thing as a Constitutional right to have one’s billboards be seen. Having lived in Los Angeles for several years, I find MiPtC’s concluding sentence to be the strongest observation of the whole matter: “Unfortunately, we still have to see Century Boulevard.”
What was that you were saying about stupid public representatives?
Oh right - check this out. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog points out an LA Time’s story about a California Congressman who…wait for this shock of surprises…lied on his tax forms to avoid having to pay taxes on over $10 million of real estate profit. And of course he now declines to offer any comment on the matter. Sad thing is, this dude’s still probably a better public servant for Californians than Ahnold.
This is a lot to take in all at once - can we take a lunch break?
You certainly can take a lunch break. And more importantly, as we’ve learned from the Law.com Blog Network, if you want to invite the QuizLaw folks to lunch with you, and we’re being sticks-in-the-mud, you can file a motion to compel and force us to eat with you!
Thanks – that hit the spot! But I’m sorta’ wondering, I had some licorice for dessert – would that work as a Hodgkin’s disease treatment?
Well, thankfully, that’s a question we don’t have to answer. After a 16-year-old complained that his chemotherapy treatment wasn’t doing it for him, he and his parents decided that they’d use “a brew of herbs including licorice and red clover [and] spiritual prayers” to combat his illness. When the state tried to force him to continue his chemotherapy regimen, he went off to court. And as reported by Althouse, a Virginia state court has come up with a nice compromise which allows the boy to feel like he’s getting what he wants while also ensuring that he doesn’t resort to Yanni music and herbal tea to fight off his disease. Because, really, nobody should ever resort to Yanni music for anything. Ever. Seriously.
Ok, no Yanni - but how about Led Zeppelin?
Led Zeppelin’s always fine and, in fact, according to Howard Bashman over at How Appealing, there is actually a connection between Zep and current legal wranglings. This is because at least two of their songs refer to falling out of bed and that ties directly into a New Jersey ruling that warning labels are not required for loft/bunk beds. Why not, you ask? Because you’d have to be awfully dumb not to realize that a platform five feet off the ground doesn’t pose some sort of risk. Though you can still get money for being dumb enough not to realize that coffee might be hot.
Is coffee the only hot thing that can cause a legal snafu?
As explained by the folks over at Overlawyered, the answers appears to be no – cigarettes can getcha too, as a Jersey family unfortunately learned when two members of the family died in a house fire caused by a cigarette. Part of the reason for this tragedy was that the family’s smoke detectors didn’t work as well as one might hope. Why? Because they decided to buy their smoke detectors on the cheap (not to mention, they disabled one). Even though the detectors were cheap, a jury still held the detectors’ manufacturer responsible for not making a better product. Although a judge did reduce the jury award in half, reckoning that the six minutes the dying family members suffered before expiring didn’t warrant $6 million. Which begs the question, does this judge actually know what it must feel like when one is burning to death?
Again, that was a bit serious. How about some light entertainment?
Ask and ye shall receive. You can go burn off a couple of minutes by watching The Wallflowers and Jordan Zevon perform “Lawyers, Guns and Money,” courtesy of TalkLeft.
This doesn’t really have much to do with anything we’ve been talking about, but how many times does the word ‘freedom’ appear in the Constitution?
Not that too many people in the higher echelons of our government’s administration care anymore about what the Constitution says, but Matt Barr has a nice rundown of ten things you may not have known about your Constitution. Barr reveals that the Schoolhouse Rock kids left just a few words out of their musical preamble rendition. Also, did you know that probable cause is not necessary for having your person searched? Well, of course you did; you’ve been through an airport security line, right? Oh, and in answer to the above question: The Constitution contains the word ‘freedom’ only once; “liberty” thrice; and “power” or “powers” 36 times. And considering our administration’s focus on power over freedom and liberty, I guess this means maybe they have read the Constitution.
And speaking of airport security, someone’s gonna’ pay for last week’s terrorist threats, right?
Umm. Well, maybe not. According to Lizard Breath over at Unfogged, many of the suspects arrested in Britain may not even face criminal charges. Wha? Come again? We can’t sneak vodka in our water bottles onto airplanes anymore and somebody’s getting let loose? Why? Oh … because the would-be-bombers were too inexperienced to pull off the attacks. …yeah, but that never stopped anybody on prom night! Oh, and big-ups to Lizard Breath for sharing QuizLaw’s love of Veronica Mars!.
Hey, can Veronica look into whether lawyers wear boxers or briefs?
No real reason why not, although I wouldn’t hold my breath. But while you may not find out about boxers or briefs, you can find out about Word or Wordperfect? Most of you probably didn’t even realize that WordPerfect still existed in this mad, mad Word world. But over at Law Practice Management we learn that more people than you might realize actually get the shakes when they’re asked to make the switch from WordPerfect to Word. LPM’s advice to these holdouts? When making the switch — which is all the more important in today’s legal world — give your staff two days of basic Word training, and give attorneys a half-day. QuizLaw debated whether to advise that this time should be billed to clients, but on second thought, we realized that such advice wasn’t necessary, as the firms are well ahead of us on where they can milk out every possible line-item to add to their client bills.
Well, before I worry about what word processor to use as a lawyer, I should pick a law school to go to. If I want to go to not just any law school, but the oldest law school in the U.S., where should I be sending my application?
Not only are many law schools competing for the highest rank in the U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings, but there are a few now competing for the title of “oldest law school.” Over at Concurring Opinions it’s argued that the oldest law school is the long-since dead Litchfield Law School. Of the still-kicking law schools that you can actually go to, it would appear that both Harvard Law School and William & Mary Law School have their fingers in the “we’re the oldest” pie. Harvard focuses on continuously running, while William & Mary focuses on founding dates. So it’s up to you which school you actually want to apply to, although QuizLaw says “balls” to Harvard - you should jump to the other side of the Charles and hit up Boston University School of Law (come on guys - does this plug get us a mention in the alumni magazine or what?!).
Hey, you ever wish you were back in law school?
The answer to that is simple: No. Why? Well, here’s several reasons. The Law School Virgin is dealing with first-week insecurities, and still hasn’t lost her virginity. The Bitter Law Student still hasn’t managed to rack up enough Lexis/Westlaw points to buy that iPod nano. For one of the “Law Bitches,” school doesn’t start for another two weeks, but she’s already got 100 bloody pages of reading to do. The Law Nut is considering selling herself if she doesn’t find a job soon. And, finally, the Namby Pamby Law Student has resorted to watching 1Ls suffer at the bookstore to get his thrills. So that, dear reader, is why QuizLaw does not miss the law school years.
Speaking of legal studies, are you ever too young to start learning contract law?
Well, at least according to the ContractsProf Blog, apparently not. It would seem that Frank Snyder’s five-year-old son has had to sign a contract in quadruplicate promising to be proud of his kindergarten school, to put forth his best effort and attitude, and to remember to take home his homework, among other stipulations. Some valid questions are raised, of course: Is Frank’s son bound by the contract? Will his son be in breach if he is not proud of his school? And why must he sign a contract if he’s not even old enough to read yet? Those are some tough questions for a guy who hasn’t been potty trained for all that long.
Ok, so while we’re on the subject of kids, is it true that virgins don’t make good egg donors?
Well, not sure if that’s really true or not, but according to The Volokh Conspiracy, at least one donation agency disqualified an egg donor because she was a virgin. Seems that the agency’s apparent reasoning was that the lack of sexual experience makes it more difficult to make the egg donation decision. As Volokh says, “[n]othing illegal here, just interesting.”
Look man, can I stop asking questions yet? I’m getting kinda’ tired.
Well, they say that a good burst of oxygen can work as a good pick-me-up. However, it may be tougher for you to get your hands on some of the good O2. As Patent Baristas report, the FDA is warning the company BetterThanAir that it will have to get FDA approval before marketing and selling its canned air. BetterThanAir advertises that its air-in-a-can, or “oxygen-enriched air,” can cure or treat lung cancer, AIDS, cystic fibrosis and high-blood pressure. The FDA says that if it can do all these things, then it’s a drug which needs FDA approval. To all of this, QuizLaw asks: It isn’t bad enough that we pay $2 for a bottle of water – we’re now going to have to start paying for air?
That was interesting and all, but seriously, this has been going on for-ev-er.
Ok, ok, Blawg Revew #71 is officially over. Next week you can find Blawg Review #72 over at Ernie the Attorney, a guy QuizLaw likes despite the fact that his son is going to Duke. QuizLaw doesn’t like Duke.
Thanks for coming to QuizLaw. And if you want more info about this whole blawg review deal, Blawg Review has information about next week’s host, and instructions on how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.