Delaware Law Office
of Larry D. Sullivan, Esquire

A Weblog?
The column to the right, is a news/editorial/comment column. It is a weblog, also know as a blog.

The weblog thing comes from www.blogger.com, which offers us a convenient way to manage the posting, administratively. You don't really need to know all of that, but we have included this explanation so that you won't be confused by the term "blog".

Another important topic here is that since the column includes editorials and comments, you can be sure that we are just exercising our free speech rights as guaranteed by the Constitution and as not yet abridged by a reactionary opportunistic vocal minority.

opinions, everybody's got one...
If you would like your opinion published here, forward it for consideration and editorial review to: info@delawoffice.com.
Or add a comment. Comments by: YACCS

We encourage the exchange of responsible ideas.

Saturday, May 18, 2002

realistic video shenanigans

 
As video technology improves, it becomes more difficult to trust. At MIT, they've gotten good enough at manipulating video images, that they are literally putting false words in people's mouths:
A specialist can still detect the video forgeries, but as the technology improves, scientists predict that video authentication will become a growing field - in the courts and elsewhere - just like the authentication of photographs. As video, too, becomes malleable, a society increasingly reliant on live satellite feeds and fiber optics will have to find even more direct ways to communicate.


copyrighted name

 
A defendant in a criminal case in St.Louis is charging authorities $500,000 everytime they use his name, on the claim that it is copyrighted. While this claim is frivilous, that the defendant is making it while defending himself pro se (with standby counsel) may cause some problems down the line.


racism at harvard

 
Somehow it's appropriate that debate concerning race be examined under a microscope at a lawschool. Professors and students spend so much time focusing upon the outside world that problems close-at-hand are sometimes easily ignored:
It took nerve for first-year Harvard Law student Tel Cary-Sadler to deliver a two-minute speech before 80 students during his torts class, blasting his professor for making racist comments and requesting a public apology. Students at this 180-year-old law school -- in a rare position of priviledge -- are better known for putting aside their personal needs to get the ultimate designer degree than confronting senior faculty. For Cary-Sadler, who took the chance, nervy or not, that apology will never come.
A debate regarding academic freedom and anti-harassment rules? Maybe the school is over-intellectualizing the problem. Maybe it just comes down to treating other people with dignity, regardless of their nationality, race, or gender. And if a lawschool professor doesn't understand that when he or she is spouting-off about the need to protect "academic freedom," then maybe they don't understand that any freedom at all comes with a level of responsibility attached to it.


around the law

 
Some articles I came across yesterday that made for interesting reading:

Net privacy bill goes to Senate floor
Senate Panel Backs Computer Security Boost
Misdial at your peril; lawsuit highlights 'fat fingers' trap for 800 numbers
The Elvis wars
Germany to grant animal rights
Why Does School Own Clone Patent?
PanIP's patent on all websites
When e-mail comes back to haunt you
Making Copy Right for All and Creative Commons
The DMCA Is the Toast of D.C.
Gummi bears defeat fingerprint sensors
The Free State Project (via kuro5hin)


Thursday, May 16, 2002

inventors and patents

 
The National Inventors Hall of Fame has added 16 new members. Included amongst those inductees are John Presper Eckert Jr. and John Mauchly, developers of the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (more commonly known as ENIAC), an ancestor to the modern computer.

The Hall of Fame was started in 1973 by the United States Patent Office and the National Council of Intellectual Property Law Associations. Their web site is nicely designed and contains information about the process of applying for a patent. They also have information about Camp Invention - intended for students in grades 2 through 6, and about the Collegiate Inventors Competition.


zero tolerance

 
Today, I came across a couple of thoughtful and informative articles on the subjects of school violence, media coverage, and zero tolerance policies, from Stanley Kurtz at National Review Online, and from University of Delaware Sociology and Criminal Justice Professor Joel Best. Kurtz asks the following in his article:
According to the Washington Times, "school officials defend zero tolerance as an unfortunate but necessary reaction to increased demands for school safety." But what if those demands are based upon an illusion? What if the dangerous trends that make parents tolerate the abuses inherent in zero-tolerance policies are nonexistent? What if school shootings are not on the rise? What if the bullying that supposedly contributes to these shootings is not pervasive? What if, in short, our zero-tolerance policies are based upon myth?
For answers, he points at Joel Best's article Monster Hype.


what is intellectual property in the age of PCs and the Internet?

 
Pamela Samuelson thinks she knows

- samuelson, in the wall street journal - 5/13/02 -

Samuelson's Argument: Intellectual-property protection must be strong enough to give people the incentive to place their creative works in the public domain but not excessively strong. If protection is too strong, it can impede innovation. Samuelson is attempting to narrow the scope of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) because it currently makes it illegal to circumvent technology designed to protect copyrighted work. Samuelson is concerned that the DMCA will slow the work of cryptographers and software developers who rely on existing software to improve and create new programs.

Relevant Case Law:
1986, The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit rules that creating new software based on existing software violates copyright when there is a "substantial similarity" in the "structure, sequence and organization" of the new software. Whelan v. Jaslo presented a situation where a programmer had created software for a company and then the company used that software to create and market similar software. The courts sided with the programmer and declared that the company had violated her copyright.

1990, The Supreme Court overrules the Third Circuit's ruling in Whelan with Lotus v. Borland. The court rules that no copyright infringement is present when programmers use the basic structure of existing software to create new software even when the programs share similar features and interfaces. The decision gave programmers more liberty to copy the "look and feel" of existing programs.

2000, Napster. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rules that Napster, a company that had developed and maintained an Internet based peer-to-peer file swapping service, encouraged and assisted people in infringing upon copyrights held by the record industry. However, the lower courts preliminary injunction was overbroad and the appeals court placed a higher burden on the record labels to give notice to Napster as to which copyrighted works needed to be removed from their service.

2000, Corley. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that a publisher of an online magazine couldn't post software used to descramble DVD encryption codes. The software in question allows DVDs to be freely copied and distributed over the Internet. Samuelson argues that the courts should further narrow the DMCA to leave room for fair-use and free speech rights.

What?s Next: Currently, Samuelson is preparing to challenge the DMCA's provisions on removing or altering technology designed to prevent music and software from being freely distributed on the Internet and provisions limiting unauthorized copying of copyrighted works. Samuelson argues that the DMCA is being used to hinder research.

Here are some related links:

Q&A with Napster creator
Court upholds ban on DVD descrambling
Wall Street Journal
Articles about DMCA
Articles about current music copyright issues
Copy protected CD's

Summary by Kevin S. Mann - Delaware Law Office Law Clerk


samuelson law - intellectual property law

 
Pamela Samuelson, a noted international expert in the field of intellectual property in the 21st century, was spotlighted in 2000 as a person to watch in 2001 by USA Today.

Well, she is still riding the crest of that wave. Established by a significant endowment from Pamela Samuelson and others, The Samuelson Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinic at University of California, Berkeley, is definitely a place to surveil regardless as to how you place your opinion on the litmus.


Wednesday, May 15, 2002

patents on e-commerce?

 
Two patents are being used to bring lawsuits against 11 companies engaged in e-business. The plaintiff and patent holder, Pangea Intellectual Properties, may bring lawsuits against many others, according to their attorney, perhaps millions.

Because the article gives you only the titles, I'm supplying the abstracts from the patents here. If you would like to read the full text of the patents, they are available online from the search pages of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. You can use the patent numbers I've listed below to find the full text of the patents.

The abstract from the first patent, # 5,576,951, an "Automated sales and services system:"
A system for composing individualized sales presentations created from various textual and graphical information data sources to match customer profiles. The information search and retrieval paths sift through a hierarchy of data sources under multiple operating programs. The system provides the means for synergistically creating and displaying customized presentations in a convenient manner for both the customer and salesperson to achieve a more accurate, efficient and comprehensive marketing presentation. Organizational hierarchies of data sources are arranged so that an infinite number of sales presentation configurations can be created. Multiple micro-programs automatically compose the sales presentations initiated by determinants derived from customer profile information, sales agent assessment data and operator's entries including the retrieval of interrelated textual and graphical information from local and remote storage sources. A similar system can be used for filing applications with an institution from a plurality of remote sites, and for automatically processing applications in response to each applicant's qualifications. Each multimedia terminal comprises a video screen and a video memory which holds co-related image-and-sound-generating information arranged to simulate the aspect and speech of an application loan officer on the video screen. The simulated loan officer is used to acquire personal loan data from the applicant by guiding him through an interactive sequence of inquiries and answers.
The second patent is 3 6,289,319 , an "Automatic business and financial transaction processing system:"
A system for filing applications with an institution from a plurality of remote sites, and for automatically processing said applications in response to each applicant's credit rating obtained from a credit reporting service comprising a series of self-service terminals remotely linked via a telephone line to a first computer at the institution and to a second computer at the credit reporting service headquarters. Each remote terminal comprises a video screen and a video memory which holds image-and-sound-generating information arranged to simulate the aspect and speech of an application loan officer on the video screen. The simulated loan officer is used to acquire loan request data from the applicant by guiding him through an interactive sequence of inquiries and answers. The terminal is programmed to acquire credit rating data relating to the applicant from the credit rating service, and to use the data to compute the credit worthiness of the applicant and the amount which may be loaned to him. The approved loan information is then transmitted to the first computer for further processing by the financial institution.
These abstracts seem like they would only apply in limited cases, rather than for millions of web sites. Both appear to only involve the issuance of loans, rather than a much broader interpretation applying to the sale of goods and services over the world wide web. But, it will be a court that ultimately decides how broadly or narrowly Pangia's patents apply.


Tuesday, May 14, 2002

serial killings in Juarez

 
A frightening story about a large number of murders of women working in american owned factories in Mexico seems to have been getting very little attention in the United States. I don't know if anyone from the US government has offered assistance, but it's needed.


a domain transfer gone bad

 
A fax sent to Verisign, claiming that the owner of a certain domain name was allowing the web site name to be transferred, resulted in the domain name registration company changing the ownership of the name to the sender of the fax. But, permission wasn't given. Verisign has admitted that it was duped. Their solution to the problem? None:
The facts in this case are that VeriSign received a forged fax from a Sarah at a fake address in Berlin, stating that Leslie Harpold had given permission for the domain Hoopla.com to be transferred to her. The domain was not itself due for renewal until June this year. The company did so, and Harpold was frozen out the domain. Upon complaining, she was told that she would have to personally contact the new owner to agree terms, despite the fact that VeriSign never checked the transfer was correct.
Without a doubt, the system for transferring names is flawed. There are other companies registering domain names with more secure methods for the transference of ownership. More on Verisign from Leslie Harpold, on Textism.


slamming claim filed against verisign

 
Is Verisign engaging in a practice that had a number of long distance telephone service providers on the wrong end of legal battles a couple of years back? A lawsuit brought against Verisign claims that the company has been sending out notices to people allowing them to renew their domain name registration for their web sites:
BulkRegister yesterday filed suit in a Maryland court, saying VeriSign's mailshots are false advertising, and that its practices amount to tortuous interference with contractual relations and tortuous interference with economic opportunity. The company wants an injunction and is currently investigating monetary damages.

"It's deceptive... It looks like an invoice," said Tom D'Alleva, VP of marketing at BulkRegister. He argues that unknowing recipients of the mailshot are being duped into transferring their registrations to VeriSign, thinking they are renewing with their chosen registrar, often at a higher price.
The notice does explain that it is for transfer of the domain name to Verisign, but in fine print on the back of the notice. BulkRegister's hearing for a temporary injunction was to have been heard this morning.


identity theft

 
One of the best sources for people interested in "borrowing" someone's identity for a short period of time might just be the government:
Dozens of law enforcement Web pages list names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, heights and weights ? everything an identity thief needs to impersonate a victim. Sometimes there?s even a photo. The dossiers belong to prison inmates and wanted criminals; the sites that list them have become user-friendly shopping malls for identity thieves.
Records regarding bankruptcies may also be available online, and may include social security numbers.


corporate accountability

 
Delaware's local pundit Al Mascitti has an opinion piece in the Wilmington News Journal on accountability for corporate citizens, in which he talks about continuing an industry tax on corporate polluters to provide money for environmental cleanup under the superfund. The law allowing for the tax was not continued in 1995, and the money that had been collected is running out this year. Under his analysis, it does seem to make more sense for the industry to help cleanup by contributing to the superfund than having all taxpayers share in the burden.


deeplinking

 
The publisher of runnersworld.com has asked another web site (letsrun.com) to remove a link from a printer-friendly version of an article that appears on the runnersworld pages. The correspondence between the two makes for some interesting reading.


Monday, May 13, 2002

neighborhood watch takes on terrorism

 
The Neighborhood Watch program has been around for more than 30 years, helping to get citizens involved in policing their neighborhoods to fight crime. Members of the program will be undertaking some new activities in the future:
In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, the need for strengthening and securing our communities has become even more critical. President Bush has announced that, with the help of the National Sheriffs' Association, the Neighborhood Watch Program will be taking on a new significance. Community residents will be provided with information which will enable them to recognize signs of potential terrorist activity, and to know how to report that activity, making these residents a critical element in the detection, prevention and disruption of terrorism.

We will be publishing information which will assist citizens in organizing Neighborhood Watch Programs, knowing what to look for in the community, and understanding what to do if they observe suspicious activity. Under the umbrella of the newly-created Citizen Preparedness Councils, the Neighborhood Watch Programs will help to distribute useful information circulated by the Councils and other agencies.
The Progressive has a slightly different view of the program, in their article entitled Amerisnitch.


cloning and the senate

 
How will the Senate vote on the Human Cloning Prohibition Act? An article in the Economist indicates that amongst the members of the Senate, there are five basic arguments in favor of a ban, and six basic arguments in support. The conclusion to the article? That the likely result of the Senate's vote later this month will be a two year moratorium on cloning, while research and debate continue.


student visas online

 
Over the next few months, tracking student visas will become possible over the web. Schools will have the ability, and the requirement, to update name changes and indicate whether a student has dropped out of school through the online system. The database will also speed up the communication process greatly:
The system will link every U.S. embassy and consulate abroad with every immigration service port of entry in the United States and all schools eligible to enroll foreign students, Hartle said.

Before foreign students can apply for a visa, they must be accepted by a school, which will enter their names and identifying information in the database. The students will pay a $95 registration fee and be issued a paper receipt. It must be presented along with the acceptance letter to a U.S. embassy or consulate to apply for a visa, he said.
This upgrade to the INS tracking system was initiated by a 1996 immigration reform law.


amish safety dilemma

 
A plastic orange triangle may spell exile for a group of Amish people who refuse to display the symbol on their buggies. Pennsylvania law requires that the symbols be placed upon slow moving vehicles. The bright orange sign violates an aspect of the Amish religious beliefs which refuse such gaudy displays. If they fail to succeed on appeal, they may possibly leave and go to Ohio where the law allows them to use grey reflective tape, and red laterns.


Sunday, May 12, 2002

 
Happy Mother's Day!!!!!!!








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