Legal Grounds - The FindLaw Legal News with an Attitude Blog

January 2013 Archives

Are Oakland's Gnomes Art or Unlawful Graffiti?

There's a fine line between art and graffiti. But for now, at least, the painted gnomes that have popped up around town in Oakland, California, have squeaked by on the "art" side of the line.

Original Banksy's they are not, but the gnomes -- more than 2,000 of them -- are appearing on utility poles in several Oakland neighborhoods. The depictions of a cute, chubby gnome with blue clothes, a red hat, a white beard, and brown shoes are painted onto 6-inch blocks of wood and then screwed into place.

Unfortunately, no one asked local utility company about putting the artwork on the poles. The company was planning to remove them until the community spoke up.

Beware: Some T-Shirt Slogans Just Won't Fly on Planes

Wynand Mullins has a great sense of humor and he's a fan of the movie "The Princess Bride." So he purchased himself a cute t-shirt with a popular quote from the movie. As luck would have it, he wore the shirt on a plane bound for New Zealand.

Fans of the movie, or friends of fans, will recognize the quote: "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." It's a great shirt, but not so great on a plane.

Mullins knew people would give him sideways glances if they didn't get the reference. But he probably didn't expect the shirt would cause as much trouble as it did.

Subway Sued Over 'Footlong' Subs That Come Up Short

Chew on this: Subway's "footlong" subs aren't really a foot long, a new lawsuit claims.


Well, now Subway will have to defend itself against allegations of false advertising. Two men in New Jersey are suing Subway, claiming that the sandwich-maker lied about the size of its footlong subs.

The lawsuit comes after an online photo went viral, showing an Aussie posing with a sandwich and a tape measure.

Bilbo's Contract in 'The Hobbit' Analyzed and Found Wanting

Poor Bilbo Baggins. All he wanted was to be a good host when suddenly the hero of "The Hobbit" found himself bound to a long and complicated contract.

Firstly, the movie version of Bilbo got a much worse deal than the one in the book. The contract on the screen in Peter Jackson's newest film looks much longer than the one described in J.R.R. Tolkien's original novel.

But whether it's long or short, the real question for legal enthusiasts is: Is the contract binding? Well, if Bilbo had a lawyer he might never have had to take the risk of going out the door.

Man Outsourced Own Job to China, Then Watched Cat Videos at Work

When people talk about outsourcing jobs to China, it's mostly to complain about the practice. But for one software developer, let's call him "Bob," it was a cause to celebrate.

Bob worked for a U.S.-based critical infrastructure company. When his company began allowing employees to telecommute using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection, he came up with a scheme.

Instead of doing his work himself, Bob hired someone in China to do his work at one-fifth of his salary. Then, he took it easy, using his free time at "work" to update his Facebook account and watch cat videos online, an investigation revealed.

His plan even worked for a while until someone started checking the VPN logs.

Bad Juror Sentenced to More Jury Duty by Fla. Judge

A misbehaving juror in Florida has received the worst sentence in the world: He'll have to report for more jury duty.

Vishnu P. Singh was selected as a juror in a rape and first-degree murder trial in October.

However, curiosity got the better of Singh, and he performed independent research of the murder on the Internet, reports the Tampa Bay Times. A fellow juror turned him in.

OKCupid Dating App Used to Seduce, Nab iPhone Thief

All's fair in love and war. OKCupid user Nadav Nirenberg showed his mastery of both when he caught the thief who stole his iPhone.

Nirenberg, 27, of Brooklyn, New York, left his iPhone 4 in a cab on New Year's Eve, and the person who found it didn't turn out to be a Good Samaritan. But Nirenberg realized the thief was using the phone when he got alerts from OKCupid, an online dating service, about messages he knew he hadn't sent.

Realizing that the thief was using his iPhone's OKCupid app, Nirenberg created a trap. How, you may ask? In a word: seduction.

Home Burglary Video on Reddit Leads to 2 Arrests

Reddit user Elizabeth Robinson uploaded video footage of a burglary at her house in the hopes of finding the people responsible for ruining her vacation.

Before going on a Christmas trip, Robinson and her husband set up eight cameras to keep an eye on their dog. But while checking in one day, they saw something no homeowner ever wants to see: their own home being burglarized.

The break-in happened Dec. 29, and Robinson posted the video to Reddit on Jan. 2 under the title "Watch my house getting robbed." By the next day, police had arrested one suspect and the next day another young man was cuffed for the crime.

So was it luck, or did the video help?

Teen Busted After 'Classic' Facebook Post About Driving Drunk

Have teens realized that posting on Facebook about drunken escapades can get them into serious legal trouble? Apparently not.

A teenager in Oregon posted on Facebook about driving drunk as a "classic" move, and then generously apologized to the person whose vehicle he'd hit during the drive. But he forgot that Facebook posts aren't really all that private.

Shortly after the post went up, two people tipped off police officers that 18-year-old Jacob Cox-Brown may have been involved in a hit-and-run accident, according to TechCrunch. So they went to his house to investigate.