Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

April 2009 Archives

French Parliament Takes Another Swing at Three Strikes Law

French lawmakers have once again taken up a bill that would strip internet users of their internet connections if they are caught illegally downloading music or movies three times.

The previous incarnation of the bill was defeated in the lower house of parliament in early April, after a stealth move by a group of Socialist lawmakers opposed to the law. 

Support for the law was so high among legislators that most didn't bother to show up for the actual vote, which allowed the Socialists to rush in and vote the bill down at the last minute.
Don't close the book on the Google Books settlement just yet.

A judge has delayed the opt-out date for the settlement of the copyright infringement class action until September 4 so that class members can give the agreement a more thorough review.

Separately, two people connected with the matter have leaked that the Department of Justice has begun examining the agreement for antitrust violations. 

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

Advances in transportation certainly facilitate the spread of diseases like swine flu. With thousands of people traveling between cities and countries on a daily basis, whether by planes, trains or automobiles, the speed and breadth of potential transmission is far greater than in early times.

However, technological advances have led to the creation of the Internet, where people at their fingertips can gain access to up-to-the minute information about problems as soon as they occur and how they might be able to address those problems.

Black's Law Dictionary Application for the iPhone

EAGAN, Minn., April 27, 2009 - A Black's Law Dictionary application for the iPhone and iPod touch is now available from West, part of Thomson Reuters. The app features the most recent 8th edition of the dictionary, edited by Bryan A. Garner.

"The new iPhone application for Black's Law Dictionary is very exciting," says Garner. "The idea that you can have a very full, elaborate, complex and richly textured book like Black's available at your fingertips is fantastic."

"Black's Law Dictionary was a logical choice for our first iPhone application," said Justin Hummel, director, New Product Development, West. "It's a perfect way for any legal professional or law student to take Black's with them wherever they go."

Understanding e-Discovery Data Types and Collection Costs

In this post, Corporate Technology Counsel for Fios, Mary Mack, discusses the differences between electronic discovery and computer forensic services, and gives some tips for choosing which service to employ for different types of matters.

With the rapid growth of electronically stored information (ESI), even well-informed lawyers and support teams are often unclear about the differences between computer forensics and electronic discovery. The differing processes of collecting and reviewing ESI involve varying levels of technological sophistication, data interpretation and costs. The choices made about which type of collection service to use will depend on the matter at hand.

While negotiating the scope of discovery in the early "meet and confer" stages, you may already have limited the potentially responsive data universe to a certain type of data. The following table outlines the four main types of data and their characteristics:

Giants Game + AT&T Park + No iPhone Internet = Major Fail

AT&T pays a little over $2 million per year for the right to put its name on the home field of the San Francisco Giants baseball team. 

For that kind of money, the company must expect at least a little positive marketing to come out of it.

That's why I was surprised, perplexed and more than a little annoyed when I found that I couldn't connect to the internet on my iPhone during my visit to the park last night.  I expected that iPhone connectivity would be a breeze at AT&T (which some people even call Telephone Park), especially considering that sales of the device seem to be the main thing providing AT&T a profit these days.
In this post, FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod discusses the workings - and shortcomings - of a law proposed in France to limit the internet access of those found to have illegally downloaded music at least three times.

Here's a novel idea - a three strikes law that would bar people from the Internet who illegally download music online.  True or false?

True inasmuch as such legislation, backed by President Nicolas Sarkozy, was proposed recently in France, according to BBC News.  False to the extent that the proposed legislation was rejected and did not become law, as BBC News reports - but an amended version of the legislation apparently will be considered in several weeks.

Top 10 eDiscovery Best Practices for Handling Metadata

Guidance Software has released its top ten best practices for dealing with metadata during eDiscovery.  Metadata is a hidden threat when releasing electronically stored information to an opposing party.  It lurks under the surface of documents, can reveal things that attorneys would prefer to keep under wraps, and often undermines trial strategies or worse.  Check out this list for ways to avoid the pitfalls associated with metadata:
The Feds have dropped a proposal to classify the use of proxy servers as a sign of sophistication when determining the proper sentence for those convicted of a crime.  For the time being, anyway.

The idea is likely to resurface once refinements are made to protect innocent uses of proxy servers that aren't related to the crime underlying the sentence.
It looks like the world won't get to watch the latest music downloading trial streamed live over the internet after all.

The First Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the district court's order allowing the live streaming of the trial clashed with a local court rule and the policy of the Judicial Conference of the United States.
In this post, Michael Harnish, Chief Operating Officer of Fios Inc., discusses best practices for identifying, preserving and collecting your client's electronically stored information in support of litigation.

Welcome to the world of litigation - an environment epitomizing "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat." How many times have you, as a CPA and financial professional, summoned up your learned skills to review financial data associated with a litigation matter? How often have you had to collect or review client data in support of a litigation matter (or manage outside consultants to do so)? How well-prepared are you to carry out these tasks in a defensible manner?

As a result of the ever-burgeoning information explosion, a plethora of enterprise-class content management and data archiving solutions have emerged over the last several years. More and more, business, financial and CPA professionals need to be proficient in analyzing electronic data and its entomology. Electronic discovery (commonly referred to as e-discovery or the legal discovery of electronic evidence) is growing as well as the need for knowledgeable and objective, subject-matter experts.

Will AT&T Keep the iPhone?

The iPhone has been good to AT&T.  It's brought the carrier millions of new subscribers, and has shored up the carrier's brand by associating it with a sexy piece of mobile hardware.

That's why it's not surprising that AT&T wants to extend its exclusive deal to carry the iPhone - which expires at the end of 2009 - for another two years, according to the Wall Street Journal.  The WSJ, citing people familiar with the issue, says that AT&T's CEO is currently in discussions with Apple to stretch the exclusive arrangement until 2011.

Apple, in its usual fashion, ain't saying squat.  "We have a great relationship with AT&T," an Apple spokeswoman said, which is more than the taciturn tech company will usually divulge outside of carefully scripted press events.

Date: 04/22/2009 01:00 PM Central Daylight Time

Cut Costs & Risks Now: How Smart Archiving & Governance Can Relieve Corporate Stress" is a free webinar that will take a look at the many challenges of managing growing volumes of electronically stored information (ESI), and how companies can lower their risks. Our experts, one of the industry's premier thought leaders on information governance will examine the different types of archiving solutions one should consider in today's market.
During this webinar you will hear from and learn about:

  • Best practices for formulating retention policies and enforcing legal holds
  • Steps you can take right now so that you are prepared for eDiscovery in advance
  • What to look for in an archiving solution
  • A new way to archive that will lower you risk and costs
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    The Police Get Hip to Twitter, but Is That a Good Thing?

    When I was growing up, you knew a trend was dead as soon as the local police or your parents picked up on it.  But will that piece of teenage wisdom hold true for Twitter, the microblogging service that has exploded in popularity over the last few years?

    The Associated Press has a report detailing how some police and fire departments are using Twitter to spread information to the public and receive tips on events happening in their jurisdictions.  The report also discusses some of the risks that accompany a police or fire department's use of Twitter.

    Date: Tuesday, April 28, 2009
    Time: 12:30 PM (EDT)/9:30 AM (PDT)
    Register today

    The consensus among corporate counsel is that the state and federal rules have only complicated the discovery process and increased costs. Register for this webcast to learn how electronic discovery can be used as a strategic advantage through the proper interpretation and practical application of the rules. By gaining the upper hand you can mitigate risk, control costs and avoid being put on the defensive.

    French Lawmakers Say "Non!" to Internet Piracy Law

    Perhaps it was a simple case of ennui?

    The French National Assembly, the country's lower house of parliament, has rejected a "three strikes" law that would have cut off the internet connections of those found to have repeatedly downloaded illegal copies of music or movies.

    The law would also have created the world's first government agency charged with monitoring and punishing those who consume and make pirated content available online.

    In the end, the surprising result apparently all boiled down to a political snafu, and the law is likely to be reintroduced later this month.  All expectations are that it will pass - but that's exactly what everyone thought yesterday as well.

    Google Updates Mobile Gmail Application

    Stephen Shankland at CNN has a good review of Google's new Gmail application for mobile phones, particularly the iPhone and phones using Google's Android platform.

    The new Gmail app allows users to access messages while offline, and even to compose a message without an internet connection.  Gmail automatically takes care of sending the message when the connection is restored.
    A student can't sue a high school principal for submitting disparaging comments she wrote on her MySpace page to a local newspaper, but the portion of her suit alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress can go ahead, a California state appellate court has ruled.

    The suit alleges that the principal of Coalinga High School downloaded the student's diatribe against her hometown before she removed it from the site and gave it to his friend at the Coalinga Record.  The newspaper published the statements as a letter to the editor, and the student's family was subjected to harassment and forced to move, according to the suit.

    Skype iPhone App Sparks Net Neutrality Complaint to the FCC

    Skype's iPhone application has quickly climbed to the top of the ranks of free applications available for the smartphone since its launch on March 31.  AT&T's refusal to allow the VoIP service to operate over its 3G network, however, has been panned by an open-internet advocacy group, Free Press.

    Netbooks Could Give Attorneys an "Acer" in the Hole

    The New York Times has a great look at the future of netbooks for those of us who want to bring more than just our smartphones along when we're on the go, but don't want to lug around an eight pound laptop all day. 

    The article also describes the ways that netbooks are poised to change the entire PC industry and threaten the near-monopolies of Microsoft and Intel.
    Tuesday, April 21, 2009 | 1:00 PM ET

    Cross-border discovery represents a challenge for organizations required to gather relevant data in foreign jurisdictions - either from opposing parties or their own affiliated organizations. This quarterly update from The Sedona Conference® provides an overview of the vastly different notions of discovery, data privacy and protection requirements facing organizations that conduct e-discovery involving electronically stored information (ESI) based outside the U.S.
    Moderator: Carsten Casper, Gartner Inc.

    Details and registration information >
    Call it the Fruit Phone Wars.

    RIM, the maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, has launched its much-anticipated software store that will allow users of the device to download applications onto their phones, according to the Associated Press.  This is a shot across the bow of Apple, maker of the wildly popular iPhone, and a signal that RIM is trying to retake some of the market share that they've lost to the iPhone.

    Or at least staunch the bleeding somewhat.