Friday, March 29, 2013

Terms of Use

If everyone in the world thinks terms of use aren't enforceable, why are they?

Terms of Use (TOUs) are the contractual terms website visitors agree to when they go to a website. They're not quite the click-wrap licenses (e.g., the contracts where you click a box that states you agree when making purchases online) that require affirmative consent from the offeree, which are generally considered acceptable regardless of whether offerees read the license terms.

Instead they are a little more of a grey area, but they're the foundation on which sites like Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube stake their liability for your use of their services. The biggest (i.e., most money-making) issue that keeps cropping up is liabilty for copyright infringement.

For a few interesting articles on the headaches Pinterest has had related to copyright and its TOU, check out the following:
If you're tasked with drafting TOUs at your summer job, check out E-Commerce and Internet Law. It's a handy book that includes form contracts. Though it's available on Westlaw, keep in mind the online license you agreed to when signing up for Westlaw prohibits your use of Westlaw while working for a firm this summer. For more regarding what you can and can't do with your Westlaw, Lexis, and Bloomberg accounts this summer, check out next week's edition of the e-Record.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ohio Adoption Legislation

A bill proposed last month would allow Ohioans adopted between 1964 and 1996 to access their adoption files and original birth certificates through the Ohio Department of Health, rather than having to file a petition in probate court. 

House Bill 61

Bill analysis of H.B. 61

Status Report


Cleveland Plain Delaer (editorial)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Amanda Knox Redux

Amanda Knox, the American college student studying abroad in Italy and tried for murder, must face a new trial following her 2011 aquittal. In the United States, the legal principle of double jeopardy would preclude a retrial. How can you find out where Italy stands on this issue? Here are a few good starting points:

Law Library of Congress Legal Research Guide: Italy
Globalex: Guide to Italian Legal Research and Resources on the Web
Reynolds and Flores' Foreign Law Guide: Italy (available on campus only)
Criminal Law in Italy

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Today at the Supreme Court

Naturally, the big news today is oral argument in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Proposition 8 case.  But the Court also issued an opinion in the interesting case of Florida v. Jardines, involving a drug-sniffing police dog.

SCOTUSblog has a great deal of coverage of today's oral argument, including two recaps, the transcript, and pictures from the court.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Client Counseling

The lawyer-client relationship is unique. An attorney may be the only person the client feels he or she can trust in an adversarial proceeding. However, while you may learn the law and how to think like a lawyer in law school, you may feel ill-equipped to deal with the interpersonal aspect of working with clients. Combine this with your ethical obligations and the whole panoply of skills, emotions, psychology, and ethics can be confounding.

Two recent examples of criminal defendants' in-court behavior brings an attorney's obligations to the forefront:

T.J. Lane, recently convicted of killing several of his classmates, wore a t-shirt that said "killer" to his sentencing. Penelope Soto gestured offensively at a judge during her arraignment and insulted him.

What is or was the role of the attorney in these situations? How do you work with your client, act in his or her best interest, and maintain a working relationship with them so you can help them help themselves?

Review some of the following materials:

Friday, March 22, 2013

Punxsutawney Phil Indicted

Mike Gmoser, the prosecutor in Butler County, Ohio, issued an indictment of adorable groundhog Punxsutawney Phil. A search of the Butler County Clerk's Office website did not turn up the case file, but the indictment itself can be found here.

Washington Post

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Garage Sale Bowl Sold at Auction: Profit of $2,199,997

In "why can't this sort of thing happen to me" news, a bowl bought for three dollars at a garage sale sold at auction for 2.2 million dollars.  Turns out the Chinese bowl is one thousand years old, a product of the Northern Song Dynasty and the only other one like it is housed at the British Museum.


Los Angeles Times


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Textbooks for Sale

Looking for a Supreme Court case with deep relevance for law students?

Look no further: "The U.S. Supreme Court has sided with a former California grad student who purchased books cheaply overseas and then resold them on eBay for a profit" says the ABA Journal.

Read the opinion here and analysis here.

An economic analysis of the case was written by our own Professor Rub and can be found here.

Monday, March 18, 2013

In 2010, a Chicago attorney purchased the domain name "since it gave the then-nonexistent pope the name of one of his favorite saints." Only recently, the Catholic Church appointed a new pope who took the name Francis, and the attorney is hoping to donate the domain name to the Church.

My first thought: what's the state of trademark rights and domain names? I studied it in law school, but that was a few years back. Enter the American Law Reports (ALR), a handy secondary source that provides extensive detail on unique subjects. While not entirely comprehensive, if your subject is in the ALR, you'll find everything you need. We have the ALR in the library, and it's also available on Westlaw and Lexis. If you're curious about trademark law and domain names, check out Lanham Act Infringement Actions in Internet and Website Context.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Police Sketches

Ever wonder just how accurate police sketches are? Well, it depends, but one source says a police sketch can increase apprehension of a suspect by up to 15 percent. Those are not great odds, and it might be particularly troublesome if your client is arrested based on an awful sketch.

Consequently, you may want to challenge the admissibility of eye-witness testimony from which the sketch was drawn. To learn more about the admissibility of evidence, and forensic evidence in particular, search the library catalog for these subjects:

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Jury Has Many Questions for Jodi Arias

Some states allow jurors to ask (pre-approved) questions of a witness at trial.  This is the case in Arizona, where Jodi Arias is on trial in Arizona for the 2008 killing of her ex-boyfriend.  The questions are submitted by jurors and asked by the judge.

Lowering the Bar

Huffington Post

ABC News

Maricopa County: Juror FAQ

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

More Texting While Driving Laws

The six-month warning period for the new Ohio texting-while-driving law ended on March 1.  Ohio is now officially on the list of states with texting-while-driving bans, joining 38 other states and the District of Columbia.

Huffington Post

And Ohio may soon have company: check out these stories about proposed distracted driving laws on other states.




Interactive map of the United States with distracted driving laws

Pennsylvania texting ban is one year old

Kentucky texting ban is two years old

Akron passes texting legislation

Monday, March 11, 2013

Harlem Shake Litigation

It should come as no surprise that the Harlem Shake lawsuits are queuing up. Australian miners are contemplating a wrongful termination lawsuit after they were fired for their Harlem Shake video, which their employer states raises safety concerns for mining operations.

I've been surprised no one has filed suit yet for copyright infringement for the use of the song in the videos posted by the score.

Interestingly, the first major suit was announced, and it's against the DJ who remixed the current version of the song. Think mash-ups and remixes are legal? Think again.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Yet Another Reason to Write Well

One day you may be a judge. You can either rely on your law clerk to write well for you, in which case you should plan on being a good editor. Or you can work on those legal writing skills now. Who knows? You just might be memorialized forever for your creativity, spunk, humor, or hipsterism.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Daylight Saving Time

Daylight Saving Time begins this Sunday, March 10th, so don't forget to "spring ahead" before Spring Break!

For anyone interested in some specifics and history of Daylight Saving Time, here are a few informative sites:


New York Times Blog


How Stuff Works

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Gun Violence Scourge in America

The blog post title likely suggests this post will be an erudite commentary on gun law, constitutionalism, and America. Alas, it is merely a post about dogs shooting owners with guns. Yes, this is a thing. Dogs don't just bite---they also shoot.

So what's the legal angle? Let's say you're at the grocery store, and the car next to you has Fi Fi, the enthusiastic Saint Bernard bouncing around waiting for his owner (who carelessly left a handgun on the seat of the car). Suddenly a shot is fired, and you've got a hole in your car door the size of a lime and can't help but panic every time you see a dog. How do you determine what you can sue for?

Try American Jurisprudence 2d. American Jurisprudence 2d (a.k.a., AmJur) is a legal encyclopedia, which means the subjects are organized alphabetically. In our hypothetical with the dog, you might come to the library and pull the volume off the shelf that has a section on dogs, torts (e.g., outrage, emotional distress, trespass to chattels), or guns. Note, however, that the gunshot and subsequent damage is the most unique aspect of this case, so looking that term up in the index (the last volumes of the encyclopedia set) might point you in the right place. Also try synonyms like firearm or weapon. If the thought of pulling books of the shelf is exhausting, you can find AmJur on Westlaw.

AmJur will summarize the law for you and give you relevant legal citations so that you can begin your research, which is just what you need when you don't know where to start.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Update on SCOTUS Same-Sex Marriage Case

Oral argument in Hollingworth v. Perry will take place three weeks from today, on Tuesday, March 26. 

As usual, SCOTUSblog is a great place to find up-to-the-minute information on the case, including the briefs.  The brief from the Obama Administration, for example, can be read here.

Audio of oral argument appears on the Supreme Court's website, here.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Write Well

You may hear stories of attorneys literally copying holdings from cases on Westlaw and pasting them into their briefs without a thought to Shepardize or Key Cite the case. You may think it's the kind of thing only an attorney like Lindsay Lohan's would do.

While sloppy decisions such as this may result from a lack of preparation and stretching one's self too thin, the issue could just as easily be the result of poor writing skills. If you do not really know how to write well, relying on the briefs of others may seem like a good idea.

Bryan Garner recently wrote on why attorneys do not write well. One factor he cites is the fact that law students are trained on legal writing in part by reading judicial opinions that are "poorly written, legalese-riddled [and] read like over-the-top Marx Brothers parodies of stiffness and hyperformality."

So, how to remedy the situation? Practice writing every chance you get. Ask others to proof read your work. Practice editing. Offer to proof read the work of others. If you find you have a knack for writing, reading others' work, particularly in an area of law with which you are less familiar, can help you learn when writing is unclear or imprecise. (Heck, you may feel that way most of the time when reading certain judicial opinions.) Check out a few books from the law library on the subject. Practice some more. (CALI password available here---must be logged in to the Moritz intranet to view.)

And for fun, check out this list of words that sound different than than their meanings would otherwise indicate. Learn it and make sure you choose the right word for the right occasion. h/t Josh and Chuck

Friday, March 01, 2013

Papal Law

Pope Benedict has stepped down, and the conclave for the new pope will begin soon. You may know Vatican City is an independent state, but did you stop to think about the Vatican legal system? Vatican City operates pursuant to a combination of canon law, Italian law, and its own laws.

The also have a library and head librarian. (But you probably already know that from the Dan Brown books.) Though eating and drinking are not permitted in the library, you can do those things at the Library bar.

If you're curious to read up on papal law, check out the following: