opinions, everybody's got one...
Saturday, October 26, 2002
file sharing debate
The Oxford Union is "the most famous debating society in the world." They had a recent debate under the proposition that:
This House believes that "the free music mentality is a threat to the future of music."Arguing for the proposition were Jay Berman, President of the International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI); Hillary Rosen, head of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA); and Chris Wright, CEO of Chrysalis. This synopsis of the debate is an amusing look at some of the hightlights and some of the "oops" moments. (via bOing bOing).
small newspapers online
The business model isn't clear. They're losing money in many instances. But more and more small papers are migrating to the web. SunSpot.net takes a look at some of the reasons why the move is being made.
It was good to see Howard Bashman's site How Appealing, on appellate law, named as a Blog of Note over on the front page of Blogger a couple of days ago. A recognition very much deserved.
chief moose fans
I followed the noise being made over at CNN about Chief Moose to the Chief Moose Fan Club. Very nicely done.
spooky house sales
With Halloween approaching, this topic seemed timely. What do you do when you have a ghost staying in your house, and you want to sell the property? Are you obligated to let prospective buyers know that the house is haunted?
A number of states have passed "stigmatized property laws" that don't require certain disclosures. If a house is in acceptable physical condition, there are a number of factors that might cause it to be sold for less money that it might otherwise be worth. Some of these include:
The house was the scene of a violent crime. or a suicide.
A previous owner had a serious illness of some type.
The house is haunted.
The laws involving this type of disclosure vary from state to state. You might want to find out what things a seller or a real estate agent is and isn't required to disclose when you're buying a house. An entertaining article from back in 1995, written for the Wall Street Journal called Is That a Hounted House You're Buying covers more on those laws, and introduces us to a Colorado poltergeist by the name of Ed.
escrow fraud online
Have you ever considered making a large purchase on an online auction site like eBay? eBay recommends using an escrow service when spending more than $500.00. The idea is a good one. Just be careful about the service that you choose. An article over on AuctionBytes.com called eBay Members Scammed by Fraudulent Escrow Sites is about some businesses that are causing consumers problems.
Friday, October 25, 2002
shearing sheep, shaving a ballon?
A contest being run by a bar in New Zealand is drawing a considerable amount of international attention. The Perfect Woman Competition has elicited calls from media in a number of countries around the world. It does sound like the type of contest that would be organized by a drinking establishment, but a few aspects of the contest give it a unique feel. Maybe beauty pageants should take note. The women competing come from a wide range of ages and occupations. The criteria used to find a winner?
Competition events include curling, pool, sock darning, putting a ram in the shearing position, shaving a balloon, digging in a fence post, backing a trailer-load of hay and changing a car wheel.My guess is that something similar may be imported to American television soon.
invisible spanish web?
The term "invisible web" is often used to refer to a large part of the web that often isn't indexed by search engines and contains personal home pages, databases or password protected areas.
The term might as easily be applied to at least 300 commercial web sites in Spain who are letting their screens go blank in response to a new law which requires registration with the government, the display of certain information on the sites, and considerable government control of the content of the sites. This law sounds interesting:
The statute goes even further. It says that if Spanish authorities deem something on a foreign-hosted Web site threatening to Spain's national defense, public order, consumer rights or other values, they can order Spanish operators to sever access to that site.The law took effect on October 12th. Hopefully the protest will cause the Spanish government to reconsider how they are approaching their regulation of the web.
[October 25, 2002 -- Some other sites are writing about Spain's Law of Information Society Services and Electronic Commerce (LSSI):
[October 31, 2002 -- The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has added a considerable amount of information on this topic at their site on two pages. The first is The new Spanish "Law of Information Society Services and Electronic Commerce" (LSSI), and the second is on their International Data Retention page. Also, Kriptópolis (Spanish) has linked to our comment here (thanks), and to a number of other pages that are providing further information on this situation.]
Plans are underfoot for Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty University to open a law school. The school is scheduled to have classes begin next fall.
Thursday, October 24, 2002
attorney discipline report
The ABA has completed its report on the Delaware Attorney discipline rules and procedures. The ABA report contains 18 specific recommendations (pdf) for change/improvement. The report is to be reviewed by the Delaware Supreme Court in November. Comments and suggestions are being sought at this time.
information wants to be free
I saw a page that some of our visitors from outside of the US might like from the University of Pennsylvania Library. It's Books Online: No US Access. The page includes links to a number of texts that are in the public domain outside of the US, but are still held under copyright within the States. It's important that you heed the warning on the page:
The following books are by authors that have died more than 50 years ago, which places them in the public domain in many countries, particularly those outside the US and Europe. However, they remain copyrighted under United States law, where works copyrighted in 1923 or later can be protected for up to 95 years after publication.Fortunately, for our guests who cannot access legally access these books, the Library's site does link to books from many of these authors that are in the public domain in the United States, and are available online. Included are writers such as Edgar Rice Burroughs, Willa Cather, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, Edith Wharton, and others. Follow the links off the page for each of these authors to locate the books that US citizens are allowed to access.
Wednesday, October 23, 2002
"a law like a blunderbuss"
I'm not sure what the back story is in the opinion piece Of laws and asses from the Times of Malta, but it is definitely one of the more amusing editorials I've read in a while. A snippet:
He was definitely not after filthy lucre. So why let the technicalities of a heavy handed and defective law dictate a course of action that verges on the ludicrous, if not the downright unjust? I should have thought that the concept of the law being in the service of justice, and not the other way around, was more than just a cliché. Oh, for more of that rare commodity - common sense.I know a few laws I've voiced those words about before. Well, not exactly those words.
If I had an Amazon wish list, the book Copy Fights would be at the top of it, from the strength of this review at Foreign Affairs called Who Owns Ideas? The War Over Global Intellectual Property. But, I don't. I won't let that stop me from picking up a copy. It sounds pretty good.
marketing group changes stance on email
The Direct Marketing Association has seen the
internet under attack
Where were you when most of the internet came under attack earlier this week?
[October 24, 2002 -- and a second attack later on Monday.]
financial institutions and third party privacy law
Does Microsoft's automatic update features force banks to violate federal privacy laws?.
lessig on copyright
Copyright Law and Roasted Pig -- Copyright and the Eldred case, from Larry Lessig over at Red Herring.
Tuesday, October 22, 2002
What privacy rights do you have when you purchase something from a store, or pay for lessons? Should a store owner just turn over all of their records when faced with a subpoena? A scuba shop in Beverly Hills was issued a grand jury subpoena asking them to identify everyone who had been given diving lessons over the last three years. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was asked for help by the store, and let the U.S. Attorney's know that it intended to oppose the subpoena in court. The subpoena was dropped.
open source pim
Do you use Outlook to receive emails and keep track of your schedule? While it has an incredible amount of features, there are some things about it that just bug me. Could an open source Personal Information Management (PIM) program replace Outlook on people's desktops? I'm willing to give the Open Source Applications Foundation's program a try. The positive responses from a lot of people at Slashdot shows that I'm not alone.
lawyers write to the chamber of commerce
Lawyers under attack? It happens. In an open letter from the American Bar Association (ABA) to the US Chamber of Commerce, the ABA writes that attacking lawyers has been "a popular sport since the time of Shakespeare." The Chamber of Commerce has an ad campaign that places the burden of high costs of products and clogged courts upon lawyers. The ABA is asking the commerce organization to reconsider its advertising, and divert its efforts towards "the real needs of its members."
the reports of internet radio's death...
...appear to have been exagerated.
"Jesse Helms killed Internet radio," was a quote from a Business Week article that described the stalling in the Senate of a last minute bill to help keep small webcasters from paying large royalty fees. But, as a Reuters article in Forbes later noted: "Smaller Internet broadcasters won a stay of execution over the weekend as musicians and record labels agreed to accept lower royalty payments that could prevent many from going out of business." I'm glad this compromise for the smaller online stations came about. The web would have been a much quieter place without it.
Monday, October 21, 2002
internet voting in delaware
The Wilmington News Journal reports that Delaware has been asked to participate in an experiment involving voting online during the 2004 presidential elections. Thirteen states would be involved in this experiment. Online voting wouldn't be available to all Delawareans. The test would only involve people filing absentee ballots, such as soldiers and Delawareans working overseas.
I'm not sure that I detect a bias for or against internet voting on the pages of Secure Poll, but they do have a good number of articles and white papers on the subject of electronic voting. Gigalaw published a lighthearted view of internet voting in January of 2001 that is worth a look.
One article I ran across that did bother me was the one entitled Internet Voting Project Cost Pentagon $ 73,809 Per Vote. Given Delaware's present budget crisis, I can't help but wonder who is footing the bill for this experiment.
Google has been sued by search-portal Search King in a District Court in Oklahoma. Part of the relief requested involves the issuance of an injunction, so there may be some decisions rendered in the suit fairly soon.
free speech in the court?
Many people following the Supreme Court oral argument in the Eldred v. Ashcroft case learned something about the practices of the Supreme Court over the last few weeks. One is that notes aren't allowed to be taken by the public while watching the arguments. I'm sure that there must be some reason for that. But, I can't think of what it is. Akhil Reed Amar asks the same thing over at findlaw, in an article called Too Much Order in the Court: How The Justices Betray Their Own Free Speech Principles:
The Supreme Court bars television cameras and radio microphones from its public oral arguments. Transcripts of the dialogue between attorneys and the Justices are not posted on the Court's website until weeks have passed and the public's interest has waned. Members of the public may not even take notes in the gallery about what is being said in open court.It may be that the greatest victory from the Eldred case might not be whether or not the copyright extension law is declared unconstitutional, but rather that the public is viewing the actions of the Court, and of the Congress much more carefully these days.
Sunday, October 20, 2002
Tricks of the Trade
By Private Investigator Michael T. O'Rourke
Question: I am a paralegal in a law office that handles primarily plaintiff's work. I need to assemble information regarding a corporation we are about to file suit against. It will be necessary to include corporate officers in the complaint. How do I determine who they are?
Answer: If the company is publicly traded, check out www.sec.gov; you will find a list of corporate officers there. If it is publicly traded, you can always call and ask for a copy of the shareholders report. Sometimes there is a fee; most often it is free. If the company is privately held your task becomes more involved.
Initially, you would contact the State of Delaware, Secretary of State, Division of Corporations, in Dover (302) 739-3073, and obtain the DE corporate ID number. While you have the clerk on the phone, ask for that company officers listed on the previous year's franchise tax statement. If a name is available, place that to the side for future inquiry.
It is interesting to note that a name is not required when sending in the franchise tax statement. (Most people leave it blank.) Ask to be transferred to the "automated system", and you can now acquire the date of incorporation, Registered Agent information, and stock issuance information.
The Division of Corporations can also give you information on UCC filings. Note the dates of the filings. Once the debt is paid off the secured item is considered an asset of value. And, occasionally, the filing will reveal a name of a corporate officer?ask before paying for it. The Division's website is: www.state.de.us/corp/. Make a list of the names you find.
Also check with the Recorder of Deeds office in the county in which the company is located. If the company owns the property, pull copies of deeds and mortgages. You will find signatures of the principals there. You can also find federal tax liens, articles of incorporation, and other miscellaneous filings at the Recorder of Deeds office.
Most of the 2200 counties in the U.S. are online. Use Google to locate the address. New Castle County is www.ncc-deeds.com. In addition to locating corporate officers, you have added to the list of assets. Make a list of the names you find.
The local courthouse is also a tremendous resource. Copies of previous litigation, both civil and criminal, are public information. Pull the files, and note any names included in the complaint. Check all the courts. We are fortunate, here in DE, to have a Court of Chancery.
The Prothonotary also maintains copies of all fictitious name registrations. In DE, you must file the fictitious name registration in each County. The clerks in the Courts are very helpful, use your phone if you need assistance. Make a list of the names you find.
The Department of Motor Vehicles can provide a list of "vehicles by name" to you. From the list, further obtain certified title histories and observe the signatures on the title. note lien information and add to your list of assets. In addition, make a list of names you find.
The internet is a great resource as well. Search for the company name on Google. Check out business sites like www.dnb.com, www.hoovers.com, www.yellowpages.com, etc? Also a great resource is the News Journal. The web-site is www.delawareonline.com.
Remember, once your list is assembled the information will need to be verified as current. Obtain home addresses and other contact information. Serve the defendants at their place of employment and their residence. Use a private detective to assemble DOB's, SSN's, individual assets, and other personal information.
For your tougher cases, it will be necessary to employ a private detective to conduct surveillance, and interviews. Most industries are tight-nit, and the competition is information rich about the company you are inquiring about.
Surveillance, and activity checks, can identify company assets and business activities. Use DMV records to identify vehicle ownership on company property. Compare photographs obtained at the job-site, or company offices, with DMV images. Identify the players. Who is parked in the closest parking space? Who is working late, or arrives early? Interview the landlord and neighboring businesses.
If feasible, pull the trash from the dumpster, or curb. I carry a 10' x 10' tarp, and a box of rubber surgical gloves, in my trunk just for this purpose. It is absolutely amazing what people discard?..
Det. Michael T. O'Rourke is a Member of the National Association of Investigative Specialists, The National Association of Professional Process Servers, and Sustaining member of the Delaware Paralegal Association. A Court Certified Special Process Server, and a Licensed Private Investigator in DE and PA. Michael specializes in Insurance Defense and Criminal Defense. He invites your questions to:
Loss Solutions, Inc.
824 N. Market Street,
Suite 425, P.O. Box 368,
Wilmington DE 19899-0368.
Or you may e-mail him at DeIrish5@aol.com.
Dover Post Coming Out
Congratulations to the Dover Post for their relatively new online presence. We can now get online access to such local Dover news such as: Dover Doctor pleads guilty to sexual molestation of mental patients; An increase in the verified West Nile cases in Delaware; and hopefully, the highly anticipated story on last night's Camelot, a benefit costume ball.
white collar spies
On Friday, a New York man entered a plea in a federal court in Delaware to a charge involving a count of stealing trade secrets. The case is the first successful prosecution of an industrial espionage charge in Delaware. According to the article, only 35 cases have been prosecuted under the 1996 Economic Espionage Act (pdf).
How much money is involved in cases of industrial espionage? The prosecution above involved a contract estimated to be worth approximately $ 250 million. A Kansas City Star article from last year entitled SPY INC: In trying to be a biotech giant, KC must protect trade secrets supplies some startling numbers:
A 1995 survey of 325 companies by the American Society for Industrial Security found that almost half had experienced some form of trade theft in the previous two years. The FBI estimates that U.S. businesses lost as much as $100 billion last year alone from thefts of trade secrets.Corporate espionage doesn't recognize national boundaries, and William S. Cohen's comments posted in an article on George Mason University's School of Law web site provides a number of examples. Here's one:
Another case in which we had a French national working for a U.S. fiber optics company sold trade secrets to the French intelligence, which then in turn passed it on to the French competitor. And in the case that Monsieur Marion was particularly proud of, the French intelligence acquired the pricing proposal from a U.S. aircraft manufacturer, which enabled its French rival to underbid it in a billion dollar contract.The Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) of the US Department of Justice has a page summarizing prosecutions under the 1996 Economic Espionage Act. They issued a press release last week with details of the last successful prosecution under the act before Friday's. It involved a software engineer who offered competitors of his former company the source code for that company's proprietary software.
If you haven't been to the CCIPS' site, it's worth a visit. They cover a lot of legal and policy issues, and publish some interesting reading material, such as details regarding Operation Buccaneer, which involves "cybersmuggling" or "warez." In July, they also updated their publication Searching and Seizing Computers and Related Electronic Evidence Issues and include a Field Guidance memorandum on computer crime and electronic surveillance as influenced by the USA PATRIOT Act.
Their Intellectual Property Crimes manual section on Theft of Commercial Trade Secrets gives an interesting overview of the Espionage Act, and the Department of Justice's efforts to enforce it.