Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

December 2010 Archives

Will More Courts Admit iPhone Videos as Trial Evidence?

So what if you can't get an iPhone video admitted as evidence? Looks like it would be just as good to post it to YouTube.

A California man was ejected and arrested from a Santa Cruz City Council meeting after doing a silent Nazi salute. Robert Norse then sued city officials, alleging that they violated his First Amendment rights. The district court granted judgment against him, but the 9th Circuit reversed that decision 11-0.

One of the judges pointed out that anyone could see the iPhone video of the salute on YouTube.

Your Email More Protected, Thanks to Male Enhancement Pill Case

What do bogus "male enhancement" pills and privacy under the 4th Amendment have in common? The question may be confusing, but it's not a trick.

According to a ruling by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, Enzyte mogul Steve Warshak's privacy was violated when investigators searched his email without a warrant. It was a potentially helpful ruling for Warshak, who had been convicted of fraud, money-laundering and conspiracy and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

iPhone v. Blackberry: Apple Targets BigLaw, Corporate Market

The iPhone is for fun and the BlackBerry is for work.

That has been the common perception for quite a while. The perception is in part due to a simple reality: most customers find that they prefer the design and simple interface of the iPhone over the BlackBerry. Now it seems that another shift is taking place. Apple has targeted the corporate market and BigLaw, and it seems to be working.

According to Nielsen Company, the BlackBerry and iPhone are "caught in a statistical dead heat with 27 percent of smartphone market share in the U.S," The New York Times reports. In light of Apple's massive gains, BlackBerry is poised to spice up its design team with the acquisition of a Swedish company.

High-Tech Holidays?

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

The holiday season is upon us. We are scrambling to find gifts for our loved ones. Should those gifts be high-tech gadgets and devices? Well, there certainly are a wide array of such tech items to choose from. Indeed, in recent years, like others, I have bestowed televisions, desktops, laptops, smart phones, and music players upon my wife and kids.

But this year, I am going old school. I am moving away from providing tech gifts that while entertaining and useful, they at times can cause their users to separate and move inward. Instead, I am giving gifts that are real world and experiences that can be shared here and now.

Kagan's Kindle vs. Scalia's iPad: Justices Embrace Technology

The members of the United States Supreme Court have a reputation for being curmudgeons. So many people might be surprised to learn that Justice Kagan uses an Amazon Kindle and Justice Scalia uses an iPad. And we're not talking about watching Netflix at home.

Justice Kagan recently spoke to CSPAN about the massive amount of legal pleadings Justices have to sift though. At times there are as many as 50 friend-of-the-court briefs for one case. That is on top of the motions submitted directly by the named parties.

"So there is a lot of reading," Justice Kagan told CSPAN. "And you know that's a big part of the job and if a Kindle or an iPad can make it easier, that's terrific." It's certainly an issue that any attorney or law student that has been forced to lug around a suitcase on wheels can relate to.

Meanwhile, Scalia is thrilled at the way that the iPad has changed his working routine, now that he no longer has to "schlep the briefs around ... It's a brave new world."

Top 5 Essential iPad Apps for Lawyers

Good news law techies. I've got five must-have iPad apps for lawyers, and they're all free. Don't say I never did anything for you. Or do, it's fine either way really.

So here are the Apps all iPad-wielding attorneys should download:

1) Evernote - One of my favorite programs, available on your computer, iPhone/iTouch and iPad. Evernote sets up an easy to use organizational system that can store documents, notes, reminders and any other kind of idea. Each document can be tagged and organized by folder for easy access. Then everything is synchronized and can be shared across all of your platforms. Evernote is one of the best apps for lawyers. I don't know how I got along without it.

YouPorn Sued For "History-Sniffing"

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

The Internet certainly serves up interesting legal cases. A recent one involves a lawsuit filed against an adult Web site called YouPorn for allegedly running afoul of computer crime and consumer protection laws by virtue of a data collection practice referred to as "history sniffing."

Two California residents, in their Los Angeles federal lawsuit, claim that YouPorn, via history sniffing, improperly has been harvesting information about Web sites that the residents and others have visited.

Is Going Paperless Your Goal? Fujitsu ScanSnap Scanner Does Trick

Paperless. The paperless office. Going sans paper is a popular topic in the legal world.

It's no surprise. With the amount of paper that most attorneys have at their offices, there is a lot to be gained by going digital. Whether the motivations are professional, environmental or otherwise, there is a tool available that attorneys have been raving about for years: the Fujitsu ScanSnap.

With the Fujitsu ScanSnap s1500, you can take a pile of papers, drop it into the tray and walk away. The ScanSnap will scan both sides of all the papers, and you don't have to stand there feeding them in one-by-one. It's extremely fast (20 pages per minute), comes with OCR software and even reads business cards.

Must-Have iPod Nano Wristwatch Doesn't Even Exist Yet

Attorneys love their gadgets. They also love getting what they want and right now. But sometimes that just isn't possible. In the case of the iPod Nano Wristwatch, not only is it not yet available, won't be available in time for the holidays.

Minimal, a company out of Chicago, has caused an internet sensation with its iPod wristwatch, though the company has not released any watches yet. 

The iPod Nano Wristwatch started on Kickstarter, a website that allows anyone to pledge funding towards new ideas. Minimal posted the iPod Nano Wristwatch, and saw over $600,000 come in, CNN reports. Minimal is selling a kit that can convert the Nano into a multi-touch watch the likes of which the world has yet to see. The company originally set a goal of $15,000, but it was so popular that money came pouring in.

Word to the wise: Don't antagonize the man in the black turtleneck.

Apple, Inc. has issued a cease and desist letter to M.I.C. Gadget, maker of the Steve Jobs action figure. The figure featured jobs in his trademark (not literally) black turtleneck and jeans standing on an Apple logo platform. It is listed for $79.90.

Apple cited California Civil Code Section 3344 which prohibits the use of any person's name, photograph or likeness in a product without that person's prior consent, which Chris Chang reported on his blog.

Is Macbook Air the Netbook Attorneys Have Been Waiting For?

The new Apple MacBook Air is out and many are wondering whether it could be the perfect notebook for attorneys. You could call it a netbook, but then you would draw the ire of Mr. Steve Jobs who said, netbooks are ''just cheap laptops." The MacBook Air is certainly not cheap, but for many attorneys it could be well worth the investment. It is light enough to carry around a courthouse, client meeting, jail house, train, anywhere.

Some attorneys might wonder whether they would be better off with an iPad instead. In truth, they are both great devices, but they are two different tools that could be used in different situations.