Technologist - FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog


Last Thursday, the Supreme Court announced changes to the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, which govern criminal prosecutions in federal courts. Those amendments would make it easier to serve summons on foreign organizations without a U.S. presence, reduce the time for responding to electronic service, and allow judges to issue warrants for remote searches of electronically stored information outside of their district.

And it's that last change which will likely have the biggest impact, removing a procedural barrier to government investigations and, critics claim, expanding the government's hacking powers.

Are Robots Ethical?

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

It appears that robots are at least one of the waves of the future. As an example, 23 million of Twitter's user accounts in fact are autonomous Twitterbots. Why? Apparently, they are there to perform research, heighten productivity, and create enjoyment. However, other such bots have been designed with less than pure intentions -- indeed, at times with the goal of wreaking some havoc.

So, where do the ethics lie here? And what happens when humans presently are developing much more complicated and sophisticated "robots" going forward?

It's hard to overestimate the effects social media has had on our lives. Once upon a time, if you wanted to stay in touch with old friends, you had to give them a call -- or at least send them a holiday card. Now, you can simply like their Facebook status. Just a handful of years ago, if you wanted to show off your fancy lunch, you'd have to pull out your Polaroid camera and mail the photos to all your friends. Thankfully, Instagram has solved that problem.

But social media isn't just changing the way we connect to each other, it's having major impacts on how the law is practiced. In a recent post on Huffington Post, Brad Reid, Senior Scholar at the Dean Institute for Corporate Governance and Integrity at Lipscomb University, laid out the ABC's of how social media is impacting the law, from advertising to securities law. Here's a quick take on the list, plus one addition of our own.

You can get married in Klingon, use Google in Klingon, and even stage Hamlet in Klingon. But can you copyright Klingon? CBS and Paramount seem to think so, and they're suing a fan film that makes use of the language, first invented in 1984 for "Star Trek."

Now, a group of linguists is stepping into the legal fight, arguing that Klingon, and other "constructed languages," are real, living forms of communication exempt from copyright law. Their amicus brief is, of course, partly in Klingon.

Pro se litigants are becoming increasingly common and while some self-represented parties do a pretty respectable job, others do not. Maybe they show up unprepared for their hearing. Or maybe their complaint is hand written. Perhaps they have ... unique views on admiralty law and the federal legal system.

But hey, what can you expect? These litigants don't have years of legal training and much of their legal know-how comes from a Google search -- if that. Thankfully, there's now a simple way for pro se parties to get prepped for court. An online video game developed by law professors at Northeastern University walks the self-represented through the basics of the courtroom -- helping them out long before they show up in their pajamas.

The NSA wants it, eDiscovery professionals are obsessed with it, and your files are secretly full of it. It's metadata, the data about data that's kept in most electronically stored information. And it's had a major impact on the legal field over the past several years.

So when it comes to metadata, you'll want to make sure you know your stuff. With that in mind, here are our top metadata explainers and tips, from the FindLaw archives.

Not sure how you feel about inter partes review, the relatively new administrative process for challenging patents? Neither is the Supreme Court, who struggled during oral arguments yesterday to determine what claims construction standards the Patent and Trademark Office should use in IPR proceedings. The case, Cuozzo Speed Technologies v. Lee, could have long-lasting implications, as the use of inter partes review continues to grow.

Let's take a look at how things went.

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

It seems like just yesterday that the Ashley Madison site became big news. The Ashley Madison site claimed that it was the world's largest place on the Internet for married people to find adulterous partners. Indeed, the site boasted that it had more than 38 million users. And importantly, the Ashley Madison site claimed that people looking for affairs could do so anonymously. Unfortunately for Ashley Madison users, the site was hacked in July, 2015, and some of the personally identifiable information of some of the site's users was leaked.

It was a very techie day in the Supreme Court today, as the Court heard oral arguments in the only two tech-related cases of the year. In the first, Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley and Sons, the Court debated whether attorney's fees in copyright litigation should be awarded when a prevailing defendant has advanced the interests of the Copyright Act, or more restrictively, when they have resisted unreasonable litigation.

Let's take a look at how the arguments went.

Tech up or Die: Law Firms Survive Better With Technology

Luddites take note: technology ought not be shunned, but embraced. Becoming comfortable and current with tech is increasingly a determinant in how likely your firm is to survive over the long term.

And it's not even just about how competent your firm actually is, either. Even client perceptions can be crucial.