Friday, November 30, 2012

Kozinski Gangnam Style

Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, has been Gangnam styled.

Is this legal?

Maybe, and this is just the type of question you might expect as counsel for JibJab. The video raises more than just questions regarding rights of publicity. Specifically, do the folks over at JibJab have a license to allow users to make derivative works of the original video? Can they allow users to create videos, knowing the videos will likely be distributed far and wide? If you create your own video on JibJab's site and exceed the scope of any permission the Gangnam Style folks gave, can JibJab be held liable for its customers' actions? Does parody fit in to a legal analysis in this case? Does it matter that JibJab has faced litigation before? Who owns the copyright in the Kozinski video---JibJab, the professor who created it, the person that owns rights in the photo of Judge Kozinski, Judge Kozinski?

Check out Music Copyright Law; Intellectual Property Rights in Sound Recordings, Film & Video; or Kohn on Music Licensing for answers.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tobacco Companies Must Admit Deception, Orders Judge

In the "big tobacco" case of United States v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., Senior Judge Gladys Kessler has ruled that tobacco companies must issue "corrective statements" about the health consequences of smoking, their deception as to the true dangers of cigarettes and secondhand smoke, and their design of cigarettes to make them more addictive.

You can read the entire order here, at Harvard's Bill of Health blog.

Wall Street Journal Law Blog


Chicago Tribune

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sixth Circuit...Most Reversed?

According to the ABA Journal, the Sixth Circuit (a.k.a. the federal circuit many Moritz grads will practice in) will potentially edge out the Ninth Circuit as the circuit most often overruled by the U.S. Supreme Court.

ABA Journal
Volokh Conspiracy

For other Sixth Circuit news, check out this blog that can keep you current on the court's latest decisions. Also keep in mind, blogs like these may be a great resource for learning about judges before you apply to work with them or argue before them.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

SCOTUS Same-Sex Marriage Cases

At conference this Friday, the Supreme Court will consider ten petitions for review dealing with the issue of same-sex marriage.  Eight of these cases have to do with the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), one with an Arizona law, and one with California's Proposition 8.

Associated Press

ABC News

Wall Street Journal Law Blog

SCOTUSblog (first article in a series on same-sex marriage cases at the Supreme Court)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dog Breeding Disputes are Ruff!

I watched the National Dog Show this weekend, and it reminded me of one of my favorite cases from my law clerk days. The parties in the case disputed ownership over a litter of "purebred" puppies. The case presented interesting questions concerning whether animals are property or something else, whether national organizations' breeding rules should be persuasive or binding authority in a case, and how to value purebred dogs in light of the limited prize money available at national dog shows. The plaintiffs' case relied in part on ownership conventions among dog breeders that the owners of the male dog are simply compensated for services rendered rather than having any claim to the litter (though compensation could include one or more puppies from the litter). And of course, the parties had not signed a contract.

It was a particularly interesting case because there was not much law on the subject. Instead, it seems these cases fall in the realm of those that either settle or are not appealed, leaving practitioners with a paucity of information for making convincing arguments in court.

What's the solution? You have a couple of research options. First, try looking for cases with analogous fact patterns---maybe cat, horse, or livestock breeding cases. Second, you might try looking for cases with an analogous legal question---where two parties make some mutual investment and fail to execute a contract, how are those cases decided? Third, if you are left with directing a judge to "official" breeding rules and mores, try searching for other cases where courts relied on the standards of practice of other private clubs (like other sports organizations). You may even find dispute resolution mechanisms among the private clubs that could have bearing on your case.

Fourth, do not forget to look at municipal and state laws. If your state has an active lobby or interest in animal breeding or husbandry (like Kentucky's stake in horses), consider seeing whether there are laws on the books and legislative history that might provide guidance.

Finally, look for blog posts and local bar association articles on the subject where practitioners may provide additional strategies and suggestions for litigants.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Turkey Tips from the FDA, Research Tips from Us

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates everything under the sun: food and drugs (of course), medical devices, vaccinations, the veterinary field, cosmetics, "radiation-emitting products," and tobacco. As part of the agency's work, they've provided "everything you'll need for a festive, delicious, food-safe celebration" this Thanksgiving.

The agency promulgates rules under a number of statutes, most of which are codified in Title 21 of the U.S. Code. If you're curious about the daily work of the FDA, you have a couple of options. You can search the Federal Register either in print (microform in some cases), or on HeinOnline, FDSys, ProQuest Congressional, Westlaw, or Lexis. A quicker way, however, might be to check out the agency's website where they link you directly to relevant notices in the Federal Register.

For more on the FDA and administrative law generally, check out the following resources:
And as always, for jobs with federal agencies, search

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving and the Law

Many of us have a short week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, so here are a few stories about Thanksgiving and the law:

Read about the establishment of Thanksgiving as a national holiday at the National Archives (and about how much of the debate about Thanksgiving was based on concerns about holiday shopping!).

Speaking of holiday shopping, some states, such as Massachusetts and Maine, have blue laws that prevent large stores from opening on Thanksgiving.

And at least two of those larger stores, Target and Walmart, are the subjects of online petitions against opening on Thanksgiving.

Finally, although the weather here in central Ohio is forecast as very nice for holiday travelling, take a tip from the Highway Patrol and stay safe.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Copyright Infringment: Recipes?

I love cooking, eating, and reading, so my love of cookbooks only makes sense. While I love highbrow cookbooks, I also have a penchant for the more ubiquitous, like my hometown favorite, Some Like it South, from the Pensacola Junior League. There's something touching about lay cooks compiling a collection of time-honored classics, especially around the holidays. I find cookbooks like these are always particularly helpful when you want something straightforward, like how to bake an ordinary chocolate cake or roast a chicken.

These kinds of books are also a treasure trove for bizarre, fanciful recipes like "Driftwood Salad," a concoction of lemon Jello, lime Jello, canned pineapple, horseradish, mayonnaise, cottage cheese, sweetened condensed milk, and other ingredients not customarily found in salads.

That list of ingredients may leave you queasier than clients with a convoluted legal issue, but believe it or not, you may have to face both problems simultaneously. What do you do if your client comes to you with a cookbook idea---either a compilation of favorites from celebrity chefs' cookbooks, reproductions of restaurants' signature dishes, a mishmash of recipes found online, or their own original creations? Does the client need permission to include the recipes from other people? Can the client prevent anyone from stealing his or her brilliant recipes?

It depends. Check out this Copyright Office info sheet for more.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Keeping Current on Ohio Law

Yesterday's blog post gave the status of pending legislation in Ohio. Undoubtedly, it left you wondering, "How can I keep apprised of other pending legislation in Ohio?" and "What can knowing about pending legislation do for me?"

While you're in law school, Westlaw and Lexis both have features for setting up alerts. Hannah Capitol Connection is another great way to really focus on Ohio issues and track the latest developments in Ohio law. Gongwer News Service is yet another tool for staying on top of issues at the capitol.

Using these tools is a way to familiarize yourself with the people shaping Ohio law. Looking for something timely to talk about in an interview with a law firm that represents particular clients (e.g., those in construction or arts and entertainment)? Hannah and Gongwers can point you in the right direction. You can also track issues affecting lawyers and the judiciary if you have an interview for an Ohio clerkship lined up.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

New Law Would Provide Notification of Parole to Families and Victims

Senate Bill 160, also called "Roberta's Law," would notify victims and families of when an offender will be paroled.  It is named after Roberta Francis, who was raped and murdered in 1974 by Paul Saultz.  When he was paroled in 2005, Roberta's family was not informed.  (Saultz is now back in prison after molesting someone else.) 

The bill passed the Senate unanimously and is awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives.

Bill Analysis

Status Report of Legislation

Columbus Dispatch

ABC 5 Cleveland

Local 12 Cincinnati

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Native American Heritage Month

It's Native American Heritage Month---if pressed, could you accurately describe the legal relationship between tribes and the federal government? Did you know it might depend on whether the tribe is federally recognized? Did you know that if you move to Washington State, New Mexico, or South Dakota to practice law after you graduate that Indian Law is on the bar exam?

You may not plan on practicing in areas typically associated with Indian tribes, such as environmental law or civil rights law, but an awareness of Indian law may come in handy nonetheless. For example, if you practice family law or work as an assistant attorney general for the state, the Indian Child Welfare Act may impact your dependency cases.

If you practice intellectual property law or otherwise work with artists, knowledge of the Indian Arts & Crafts Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, and the Native American Graves Repatriation Act, may also prove useful.

Here are a few primers on Indian law to get you started:
In the library, you can check out a few handy books too:
Finally, if you're looking for a little expert guidance, consult the friendly librarians at the National Indian Law Library.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Legal Podcasts

I'm a big fan of multi-tasking. I also lost my capacity to read highbrow literature once I went to law school, too exhausted each day to break out anything more taxing than a New Yorker magazine.

Thank heavens for podcasts. Since discovering them, I've been able to get back into the news, exercise some, and even relax with a few great comedy podcasts.

Turns out, there are also scores of law-related podcasts out there. The Legal Talk Network has shows on solo practice, the business of running a law practice, and even cool stuff like digital issues (think e-discovery, metadata, and digital forensics).

Friday, November 09, 2012

Woman Given Unusual Sentence for Driving on Sidewalk

Sheena Hardin didn't just drive on the sidewalk--she drove on the sidewalk so she wouldn't have to stop for a school bus full of children.  And she had apparently done this many times before being caught, both on camera and by the police.

Judge Pinkey S. Carr ordered Hardin to stand at an intersection, wearing a sign that says, "Only an idiot drives on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus."  Hardin's license was suspended for 30 days.

Fox 8 Cleveland

ABC News Blog

Jonathan Turley

What do the States' New Marijuana Laws Mean?

Colorado and Washington both passed marijuana legalization laws on Tuesday, and other states have similar laws on the books. But does that mean folks in those states can simply light up with impunity? Probably not as these articles suggest:

Labor & Employment Law Alert: Medical Marijuana and Zero Tolerance Drug Testing Policies

Colorado  Officials Seek Clarity After Passage of Marijuana Measure

Pot Legal Dec. 6, 'Jury is Out on What Happens' After That

Marijuana: For Many Employees, it's Legalization in Name Only
For more information, check out these library resources: 
Also consider looking at employment law desk books or other practitioners' resources that might include pertinent chapters. This legal research guide can also point you in the right direction.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Electoral Maps Quiz has one of the coolest ways to learn a little election history. A quiz showing you different electoral college maps dating back to 1860 provides you with quick historical facts on the presidential candidates and elections. You win electoral college votes for each correct answer. The goal, of course, is to secure 270 electoral college votes.

Take this electoral college map, for example. It represents the map from the 1916 election: Woodrow Wilson vs. Charles Evans Hughes. Wilson's campaign slogan that year was, "He kept us out of war." The U.S. declared war on Germany a year later.

And third party candidates certainly aren't a new phenomenon:
This electoral college map is from 1912. According to, "Taft and Roosevelt were friends before the election, but the former president's distaste with Taft's administration prompted a serious falling out and fractured the Republican party. Roosevelt ran as the Bull Moose Party candidate against Taft and Democrat Woodrow Wilson."

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Election Day!

More Election Day free stuff, continuing our theme from yesterday...

Starbucks is offering free wristbands (which can also double as hair ties, as I just discovered) with purchase.

Some Einstein Bagels are offering a free bagel (call ahead to make sure!).

Buca di Beppo is having a BOGO lunch deal today.  Coupon here.

And of course, voting is free!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Election Day Resources and Free Stuff

Tomorrow, Election Law @ Moritz’s team of faculty and researchers will be monitoring election day happenings over at the Ohio Union, Cartoon Room, 3rd floor, from 8am - ?
Sadly, there aren't nearly as many election specials available as there have been in the past. Tim Hortons Café & Bake Shop, however, will give its guests a free donut when they purchase any beverage and show their "I Voted" sticker at participating U.S. restaurants on Election Day.
Free food and elections have a bit of an infamous relationship as you may have seen with the recent pizza/election scandal.  Offering free food to entice voters isn't new news, however, as this 1905 case illustrates. ("It is claimed by the petitioners that certain ladies in one of the election districts of the town occupied a portion of the power house of the Chautauqua Institution on the day of election, and dispensed coffee and doughnuts to the electors, and solicited the electors to vote against the sale of liquor in said town.")

Friday, November 02, 2012

Hurricanes and Cloud Computing - the In-house Counsel Perspective

In the midst of Hurricane/Storm Sandy, many websites were down, including Bloomberg Law's, Huffington Post, and some for the federal judiciary. While you might think it's because those companies are based in or near New York City, the actual problem probably lies with the location where the websites are hosted.

Website hosting is big business, and a big concern of those companies whose primary business is online is uptime. For example, if you're Zappos and your business is online sales, if your website is inoperable for any reason, you are potentially losing millions of dollars in sales. You may also be losing revenue from any products you advertise on your website.

Why should you care (aside from missing out on important news and great deals on shoes)?

Well, if you're counsel working for an online business and you negotiate any network hosting deals, it's important to think about the legal implications of uptime requirements. Force majeure may be the first thought that comes to mind, but keep in mind other contract terms may be more significant from a remedies perspective. To brush up on the kinds of things you'll need to know, check out these library resources:

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Skeletal Remains Found in Tree after Sandy

In an especially cold "cold case," a woman found skeletal remains in the roots of a tree.  Making the situation extra-spooky, she found them on Halloween eve.

The tree is located in New Haven Green in Connecticut, and was blown over by high winds from Sandy.

Investigators do not suspect foul play, and believe the remains may have belonged to a victim of a smallpox epidemic, buried in a mass grave around 200 years ago.

h/t: Lowering the Bar, describing the bones as "ÜBER-CREEPY."

New Haven Independent

Huffington Post

Smithsonian Blog