opinions, everybody's got one...
Saturday, January 25, 2003
What do we really know about our neighbors to the south? The United Mexican States are considering changing their name to Mexico.
A fairly new site, from the federal government, can help us keep an eye on regulations coming from federal agencies, and give us information on how to comment upon regulations that have been opened for public comment. The site is Regulations.gov. I'll be adding it to our sidebar. (via talkleft)
Is your web site located in a bad neighborhood? Chances are that if you have a web site, the server that it is hosted upon is home to a few other sites. You may have little or no control over the content of those sites. You may not even be aware that those sites exist. It's possible that one of your neighbors might believe that they can exhibit humor, satire, irony, or parody on their pages. They may try to do so.
Imagine that one of your web neighbors decides to create a parody of a large corporation, and the reaction to that "exercise" in free speech is to have every single one of the sites on your server, and the other machines owned by your web host disconnected from the web by their backbone provider. Your host has lost its connection to the web, and so have you. The company that felt they were being defamed used a threat of an action under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which resulted in the backbone provider cutting off access to your site.
What exactly is the relationship between copyright law and defamation? Where does the line get crossed when parody is seen as defamation? Was the Digital Millennium Copyright Act meant to be used in this manner? See the Village Voice's article Dow v. Thing, subtitled A Free-Speech Infringement That's Worse Than Censorship.
Friday, January 24, 2003
state of the state
Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner presented her State of the State address before the Delaware General Assembly today. Amongst the initiatives that she discussed was one that I found very interesting. She is calling for a "technology court to hear disputes in areas such as trademark, copyright and intellectual property law where changes in computerization are outpacing old laws." Under this plan, new procedures would be implemented in Delaware's Chancery Court to empower it "to hear disputes in the area of technology-related commerce." The full text of her address can be seen here. (Spanish version)
american indian studies
Harvard Law School has added a chair in American Indian law, which is being endowed by the Oneida Indian Nation.
Wednesday, January 22, 2003
Bollywood actress Preity Zinta testifies on the influence of organized crime in the Indian film industry.
Associated Press columnist Rachel Beck explores why some businesses filing for bankruptcy hand out bonuses to managers and other executives.
In Japan, it appears that Ridiculous names work against their bearers. I'm puzzling over the opening line which states:
The Chinese characters people can use for personal names are limited to those specified by the government. Responding to wishes from the public, the Justice Ministry now seems set to add many more characters to the list to allow their use for given names.
A short blurb about Who Killed Woody Allen? describes how one theatrical troupe snared a victory from the jaws of defeat. More here, and the official site here.
An interesting look at a court revisiting settlement issues in a suit that involved the death of a professional wrestler who fell while making an entry into a ring suspended from a safety harness.
cartoon characters declared non human
The Wall Street Journal reports upon a decision of a judge in the U.S. Court of International Trade, who has held that comics characters from the Marvel Universe, notably those from the X-Men series, aren't human, and the duty imposed upon their import from China would be at a lower rate than if they were.
A six-year-old battle between Marvel Comics and the U.S. Customs Office has hinged upon the distinction between human and nonhuman for the action figures (a term which probably holds other connotations completely, and is only used here in a generic sense). A human figurine would be considered a "doll." A nonhuman figure is a "toy." The tariff rates for dolls is higher than for toys.
What some fans of the series find ironic is that the storylines often emphasize the humanity of the characters, and that they are ordinary people gifted, or cursed, with extraordinary abilities. In these days of cloning controversies, in vitro fertilization, and cybernetic implants, the question "what is human" may be one facing judges in a legal context more often. Those decisions may have more impact than the cost of importing figurines from China to the US. What has me stumped though, is why there would be different rates for toys and dolls under the U.S. tariff code?
probation and the web
A condition of probation that is becoming more common in many jurisdictions would prohibit probationers from using the internet, or monitor their use of the net. The New York Times looks at this issue, and how it is being handled in different federal districts.
Tuesday, January 21, 2003
navigation patent claim
Might a patent cover the way links on a web site point to other pages on that site? ZDNet UK is reporting about a letter sent to a museum site, apparently from an American Telecommunications company asking for licensing fees that could equal up to five percent of the company's revenue annually. The patent referred to in the letter, titled "structured document browser" is here, and the museum site includes links to the patent infringement notice they received here.
Monday, January 20, 2003
llc, lp, llp, lllp, s corporation, c corporation, partnership, proprietorship... what are all these things?!
Many of these types of entities have similarities, and some are glaringly different.
An LLC is a Limited Liability Corporation, which may have pass through taxation like a partnership, liability protection like a corporation, and flexible structure.
A Limited Partnership (LP) is used to limit the authority of one or more of the partners.
A Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) limits the liability of the partners as to each others' negligent acts.
An LLLP is a Limited Liability Limited Partnership, limiting the liability of one or more partners from the negligence of another partner while at the same time limiting the authority of one or more partners.
An S Corporation is a little less flexible than an LLC, but can have the similar flow through taxation and asset protection.
A C Corporation [sic] is not very flexible in form, but the strongest asset protection and high in expense deduction qualifications (but dividends get taxed twice).
A partnership is very flexible and doesn't protect at all, as is a proprietorship (but is it not a partnership of one?).
The differences and similarities between these vehicles could fill books. So don't rely upon this very general lineup as if it were a scholarly treatise. What is needed, in determining how to structure your enterprise, is an evaluation of your goals, assets, liabilities, business plan, and tax considerations.