law

‘It is always the unreadable that occurs.’ –Oscar Wilde

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Damnatio memoriae is the Latin phrase literally meaning “condemnation of memory” in the sense of a judgment that a person must not be remembered. […] The intent was to erase someone from history, a task somewhat easier in ancient times, when documentation was much sparser. […]

Any truly effective damnatio memoriae would not be noticeable to later historians, since, by definition, it would entail the complete and total erasure of the individual in question from the historical record.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

It’s your beliefs about the world that cause distress, not the world itself

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Woman fined $3500 for leaving a negative review online. […] Apparently, she violated a non-disparagement agreement hidden within the terms of sale.

{ Gawker| Continue reading }

twophrasebark
Just because something is in the terms of agreement does not make it legal. Or binding.

lobstr
Exactly — what’s to stop them from picking “$1,000,000″ instead of the arbitrary amount of “$3,500″ as the fine?

Sue–Asponte
Not to mention that the husband is the one that signed it so it never bound the wife. Not to mention, further, that the contract was probably void when the purpose of the agreement wasn’t fulfilled when the couple didn’t get their crap.

olal
According to reports from Techdirt, it would appear that the company didn’t even have this clause up when the woman made the order. It seems that years later, after having their rating ruined, they added this clause and then threatened these customers retroactively.

{ Gawker/Comments | Continue reading }

related { Your Phone Number Is Going To Get A Reputation Score }

Master the art of making potions

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{ giveitbackto.us | See also: US Government Shutdown: Good News For Patent Trolls }

The ‘non-’ in non-philosophy, of course, is not a negation

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Who knew Martha Stewart had it in for patent trolls? The decorating queen’s media empire has filed a lawsuit to crush Lodsys, a shell company that claims the Martha Stewart Weddings iPad app infringes its patents.

In case you’re unfamiliar with Lodsys, the firm — which doesn’t make any products or do anything other than sue people — gained infamy two years ago by launching a wave of legal threats against small app makers, demanding they pay for using basic internet technology like in-app purchases or feedback surveys.
Many of the app companies, which are usually one or two-person operations, simply capitulate and agree to hand over a portion of their revenues rather than go up against Lodsys’ battery of lawyers and a Texas jury. But not Martha.
In a complaint filed this week in federal court in Wisconsin, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia asked a judge to declare that four magazine iPad apps are not infringing Lodsys’ patents, and that the patents are invalid because the so-called inventions are not new.

The complaint explained how Lodsys invited the company to “take advantage of our program” by buying licenses at $5,000 apiece. It also calls the Wisconsin court’s attention to Lodsys’ involvement in more than 150 Texas lawsuits.

In choosing to sue Lodsys and hopefully crush its patents, Martha Stewart is choosing a far more expensive option than simply paying Lodsys to go away. The good news is that the decorating maven has some unlikely allies in the campaign: tech rivals Google and Apple are also lining up against Lodsys in an effort to protect the app developers, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation this week filed an anti-Lodsys brief of its own.

{ Gigaom | Continue reading }

photo { Diane Arbus, Woman on the Street With Two Men, NYC, 1956 }

The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men

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“Chris,” a Chicago high school student and gang member and gunslinger, explains exactly how easy it is for he and his fellow gang members to obtain firearms, even if they have criminal records:

“I will make a call and say I need a gun. I will ride down the street on my bike and get it — five minutes.” . . . Chris calls them the “gun guys.” The cops have another name for them: “straw purchasers.”

“Gun guys” have clean records allowing them to obtain Illinois firearm owner’s identification cards. With FOID cards, they can legally buy guns at stores in the suburbs.
Then they illegally sell them to gang members banned from owning guns because of their criminal backgrounds.

Most of the guns recovered in crimes in Chicago were bought in suburban gun stores, according to a new University of Chicago Crime Lab study of police gun-trace data.

As Chris points out, many of these straw purchasers’ full-time job is trading on their clean criminal record to buy guns and then resell them at a markup to dangerous felons. Such professional straw purchasers should be easy to catch. Because federal law requires most gun purchasers to undergo criminal background checks before they can buy a firearm, it should be an easy matter for law enforcement to check whether the same person is purchasing guns over and over and over again.

Except that the so-called “Tiahrt Amendments” thwart such checks by requiring the Justice Department to destroy the record of any gun buyer whose purchase was approved within 24 hours. As a result, law enforcement is often blind to straw purchasers who are flooding the streets with guns right under their noses.

Nor is this the only aspect of federal law that “gun guys” can take advantage of. An estimated 10 percent of all guns used in a crime by juveniles were sold at a gun show or flea market where many of the dealers do not have to conduct criminal background checks on their customers. Indeed, federal officials are often forced to charge straw purchasers with paperwork violations due to the absence of an appropriate law criminalizing unlicensed gun trafficking.

{ Think Progress | Continue reading }

related { Another responsible gun owner just doing his thing }

Inventors of the Accu-jack

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Eyewitness error is the leading cause of wrongful felony convictions. For example, eyewitness error played a role in 72% of the 302 DNA exoneration cases, and it is estimated that one-third of eyewitnesses make an erroneous identification. In this article, we discuss why jurors and legal professionals have difficulty evaluating eyewitness testimony. We also describe the I-I-Eye method for analyzing eyewitness testimony, and a scientific study of the I-I-Eye method that shows it can improve jurors’ ability to assess eyewitness accuracy.

{ The Jury Expert | Continue reading }

‘Never argue with an idiot. They will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.’ –George Carlon

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Forget patenting an invention. These days, companies patent conceptual categories for future inventions.

During the first dot-com boom, Amazon famously patented the concept of buying things online with one click. More recently, companies have patented concepts such as scanning documents to an e-mail account, clearing checks electronically and sending e-mail over a wireless network.

The problem with these kinds of abstract patents is that lots of people will independently discover the same basic concept and infringe by accident. Then the original patent holder — who may not have come up with the concept first, or even turned the concept into a usable technology — can sue. That allows for the kind of abusive litigation that has been on the rise in recent years.

A lawsuit over an Internet advertising patent offered a key appeals court an opportunity to rein in these abstract patents. Instead, the court gave such patents its endorsement on Friday, setting the stage for rampant patent litigation to continue unchecked.

A firm called Ultramercial claims to have invented the concept of showing a customer an ad instead of charging for content. The company has sought royalties from a number of Web sites, including Hulu and YouTube. Ultramercial’s patent isn’t limited to any specific software algorithm, server configuration or user interface design. If you build a Web site that follows the general business strategy claimed by the patent, Ultramercial thinks you owe them money.

{ Washington Post | Continue reading }

But I can fe-fi-fo-fum, diddly-bum, here I come

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Let’s say you ran one of the Fortune 10 companies. And for some reason, you wanted to ensure that this business would be hated by its customers, forever. What would you do? […] for long term contempt, you need stuff that nobody notices. […]

What I’d do is create a policy that makes it really hard for my company’s employees to ask questions of my company’s customers. I’d make it a struggle to collect feedback. In order to collect any form of feedback, I’d make it so that you had to first ask for permission from an underfunded and understaffed component of the central office of my corporation.

Of course I’d also make it take at least six months to get this approval. That way, most of the people who wanted to ask my customers a question were immediately discouraged from doing so. […] I’d staff this office with economists and lawyers. […]

Then, just to be especially perverse, what I’d do is encourage my company to use social media. I’d create policies around it, pushing my company to go online on Facebook and Twitter and stuff, and to have “authentic conversations” with our customers. I’d tell them that it was totally cool to use social media to informally do whatever they wanted, except to use that information to inform product or service decisions. This way, my employees will be completely cut off from their customers needs. And the only employees that actually make it to the customers are the people who know how to talk to the economists. That’ll make it so whatever inputs and outputs of my business are so incomprehensible that they’ll just create more frustration rather than solve problems. [And customers will] think they’re giving input to the company without that input actually making it anywhere useful.

It’s a machievellian scenario that, sadly, I didn’t make up. This “corporate policy” is actually a law that makes your government act like this, and it’s nefariously named the “Paperwork Reduction Act.” It was the last bill signed into law by Jimmy Carter in 1980.

{ Information Diet | Continue reading }

You make these gentlemen a receipt for $12,000 please. It was a pleasure doing business with y’all. Now gentlemen, if you care to join me in the parlor, we will be serving white cake.

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The US Congress has severely scaled back the Stock Act, the law to stop lawmakers and their staff from trading on insider information, in under-the-radar votes that have been sharply criticised by advocates of political transparency.

The changes mean Congressional and White House staff members will not have to post details of their shareholdings online. They will also make online filing optional for the president, vice-president, members of Congress and congressional candidates. […]

The Stop Trading On Congressional Knowledge – or “Stock” – Act prohibited them from buying or selling stocks, commodities or futures based on non-public information they obtain during the course of their work. It also banned them from disseminating non-public information regarding pending legislation that could be used for investment purposes. […]

Political watchdogs were dismayed. “Are we going to return to the days when public can use the internet to research everything except what their government is doing?” asked Lisa Rosenberg of the Sunlight Foundation, which monitors money in politics.

{ Financial Times | Continue reading }

The Federal Reserve said early Wednesday that it inadvertently e-mailed the minutes of its March policy meeting a day early to some congressional staffers and trade groups.

Late this afternoon, the central bank released to reporters a list of more than 150 e-mail addresses that it says received the early e-mail on Tuesday afternoon. (The minutes had been scheduled for release a day later.) The list includes e-mail addresses for dozens of congressional staffers, along with contacts — many of them government-relations executives — at major banks, lobbying firms and trade groups.

{ WSJ | Continue reading }

We will provide the full list of people who manipulate and cheat the market shortly, but for now we are curious to see how the Fed will spin that EVERYONE got an advance notice of its minutes a day in advance without this becoming a material issue with the regulators, and just how many billions in hush money it will take to push this all under the rug.

{ Zero Hedge | Continue reading }

‘I’m not into this detail stuff. I’m more concepty.’ –Donald Rumsfeld

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With human decisions come human biases, even in situations that demand objectivity. For example, crimes involving more victims can sometimes receive lesser punishments, an outcome known as the “identifiable victim effect.”  With more victims, each one becomes less identifiable, and this elicits less sympathy for the victims and a corresponding punishment that’s less severe.

A new study by a group of Tilburg University psychologists lays out another bias that can creep into evaluations of wrongdoing. In a series of six experiments the researchers found evidence for the “insured victim effect” — the tendency for perpetrators to be judged differently if the losses they cause are covered by insurance.

{ peer-reviewed by my neurons | Continue reading }

art { Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled, 1980 }

‘I feel so blessed that the government protects my wife and me from the dangers of gay marriage so we can safely go buy some assault weapons.’ –Will Ferrell

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As I reported a couple of weeks ago, a recent Senate bill came with a nice bonus for the genetically modified seed industry: a rider, wholly unrelated to the underlying bill, that compels the USDA to ignore federal court decisions that block the agency’s approvals of new GM crops. I explained in this post why such a provision, which the industry has been pushing for over a year, is so important to Monsanto and its few peers in the GMO seed industry. […]

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) has revealed to Politico’s ace reporter David Rogers that he’s the responsible party. Blunt even told Rogers that he “worked with” GMO seed giant Monsanto to craft the rider.

{ Mother Jones | Continue reading }

art { Cady Noland, Mutated Pipe, 1989 }

‘If you receive a little money for this, a little money for that, everything becomes mediocre.’ –Salvador Dalí

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The U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York dismissed collector Jonathan Sobel’s lawsuit against photographer William Eggleston. […]

The lawsuit was spurred by Christie’s sale last March of 36 poster-size, digital prints of images that Eggleston had shot in the Mississippi Delta more than 30 years ago. Some were created from negatives he had never printed before, while others were based on iconic works, such as “Memphis (Tricycle).” (Sobel owns a 17-inch version of that photograph, for which he reportedly paid $250,000.) The sale was a massive success — by the time it was over, the large digital works accounted for seven of the artist’s top 10 prices. (The five-foot “Tricycle” came in on top, selling for a record $578,500.)

For Sobel, who owns 190 Eggleston works, the success of the sale was part of the problem. “The commercial value of art is scarcity, and if you make more of something, it becomes less valuable,” he told ARTINFO last April.

The judge disagreed. Egggleston may have profited from the Christie’s sale, she concluded, but not at Sobel’s expense. Eggleston could be held liable only if he created new editions of the limited-edition works in Sobel’s collection using the same dye-transfer process he used for the originals — a move that would directly deflate their value. In this case, however, Eggleston was using a new digital process to produce what she deemed a new body of work. 

{ ArtInfo | Continue reading }