Fall Classes

We reg­is­tered for fall classes this week.  Luck­ily, I got into every­thing I wanted:

  • Busi­ness Asso­ci­a­tions
  • Evi­dence
  • Patent Law
  • Euro­pean Union Inter­net Law

Hope­fully I will also be on a jour­nal in the fall, and Legal Skills will con­tinue as well.  The EU Inter­net Law class should be inter­est­ing.  It’s a one week, one credit course taught by a pro­fes­sor from Spain.  Unfor­tu­nately they only offer “reg­u­lar” Inter­net Law over the sum­mer, so this is my only chance to get an Inter­net-focused class.  I’m look­ing for­ward to my first IP course with Patent Law, too.  I jumped on a wait list for a First Amend­ment course, but there are 30+ peo­ple ahead of me for the 35-seat class.

Of Copyrights and Campaigns: Fox News Network v. Carnahan for Senate

My sec­ond post for the William & Mary IP blog is up.  It dives a lit­tle deeper into one of the cam­paign video cases that my pre­vi­ous post cov­ered:

In Sep­tem­ber, Fox News filed a copy­right infringe­ment suit against the cam­paign of Robin Car­na­han, the Demo­c­ra­tic then-can­di­date for Missouri’s U.S. Sen­ate seat.  (Cara­han was even­tu­ally defeated at the polls by Repub­li­can Roy Blunt.)  The com­plaint alleged that Carnahan’s cam­paign “usurped pro­pri­etary footage from the Fox News Net­work to made it appear – falsely – that [Fox News] and Christo­pher Wal­lace, one of the nation’s most respected polit­i­cal jour­nal­ists, are endors­ing Robin Carnahan’s cam­paign.”  The ad (which you can watchhere) con­sists almost entirely of footage taken from Wallace’s inter­view of Blunt on Fox News ear­lier this year.  In addi­tion to copy­right infringe­ment, the com­plaint alleges inva­sions of Wallace’s pri­vacy and pub­lic­ity rights.

There are at least two key issues at stake in this law­suit.  The first is the nature of the rights that Fox News is seek­ing to pro­tect.  Instead of alleg­ing an infringe­ment of eco­nomic rights to its work, Fox News focuses its com­plaint largely around the effect of the unau­tho­rized use of its work on its rep­u­ta­tion.  Through­out its com­plaint, Fox News speaks of the ad “com­pro­mis­ing its appar­ent objec­tiv­ity” and “mis­lead­ing” its view­ers into think­ing that it endorsed Car­na­han as a can­di­date.

The afore­men­tioned CDT reports put it best: “These are not copy­right inter­ests.”

Click through to read the rest.  [Update: It’s also now live on State of Elec­tions.]

Political Speech and DMCA Takedowns: An Imperfect Balance

I just had my first post pub­lished on the William & Mary IP Soci­ety blog:

If you fol­low elec­tion cam­paigns, you’re likely famil­iar with the idea of the Octo­ber sur­prise.  The term refers to a last-minute rev­e­la­tion that forces a candidate’s cam­paign into cri­sis response mode, at a time when the slight­est hic­cup might derail their suc­cess.  Take, for exam­ple, Cal­i­for­nia guber­na­to­r­ial can­di­date Meg Whitman’s recent woes over her for­mer house­keeper.

Now a very dif­fer­ent sort of Octo­ber sur­prise looms as cam­paigns increas­ingly come to rely on the Inter­net for their mes­sag­ing.  In addi­tion to defend­ing against tra­di­tional last minute rev­e­la­tions, cam­paigns must now fight against cen­sor­ship dis­guised as copy­right enforce­ment.

The rest of the post dis­cusses the recent CDT report on ille­git­i­mate DMCA take­downs of polit­i­cal cam­paign videos, and how the DMCA poses par­tic­u­lar prob­lems for this type of con­tent.  Read the rest of the post here.

Thinking Carefully” About Online Reputation

The after­noon por­tion of today’s Law Camp ses­sion was mostly admin­is­tra­tive.  We heard from sev­eral deans and stu­dent lead­ers about var­i­ous dif­fer­ent aspects of aca­d­e­mic and social life at law school.  The last speaker this after­noon was the dean of career ser­vices.

The dean went over a few impor­tant dates, and then offered us a piece of advice.  I para­phrase:

The sin­gle most use­ful and impor­tant thing that you can do in these first sev­eral weeks is to inves­ti­gate and think care­fully about the images and infor­ma­tion about you that exist on the Inter­net.

He went on to pro­pose two hypo­thet­i­cals, in both of which we should assume the role of a hir­ing part­ner at a national law firm.

  1. You gain access to a promis­ing can­di­date’s Face­book pro­file, and find a pic­ture of the can­di­date sit­ting on the beach in her swim­suit with two of her friends, rais­ing beer cans in a toast.  Do you dis­qual­ify the can­di­date based on this image?
  2. In research­ing a dif­fer­ent but also promis­ing can­di­date online, you come across a col­lege news­pa­per arti­cle com­plete with photo that says, refer­ring to that can­di­date: “SGA Sec­re­tary Con­victed of Steal­ing School Sup­plies.”  Turns out, it was the April Fool’s edi­tion of the news­pa­per, but it is not clearly marked on the arti­cle and not appar­ent from the writ­ing style.  Do you dis­qual­ify the can­di­date based on this dis­cov­ery?

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Law Camp

Tomor­row begins Law Camp, the one week ori­en­ta­tion ses­sion pre­ced­ing the start of “real” classes.  We take our indi­vid­ual and class pho­tos, pledge our­selves to the Honor Code, and are oth­er­wise ini­ti­ated as 1Ls.  We will also meet for the first time in our four­teen Law Offices: the small groups where for the next two years we will prac­tice our writ­ing, speak­ing, inter­view­ing, nego­ti­at­ing, and other impor­tant skills.

I orga­nized a group out­ing last Fri­day via our class’s Face­book group.  We had a really strong show­ing, almost 25 folks.  It was great to get to know some peo­ple before we were all thrown in together at the Wel­come Recep­tion this after­noon.  Every­one seems really nice, smart, and excited about the com­ing adven­ture.  It’s going to be a fun time, I think.