Colbert on NPPA and Photography in Train Stations

3 02 2009

For years, I have been involved in fighting attempts to ban photography in public places like train stations. Yet photographers continue to be harassed and we continue to have to make a fuss.

Recently, a case caught the attention of the Colbert Report and the following video ran last night (Feb. 2). The absurdity of our point comes across clear as day. The shout out to NPPA (and the bloody lettering to go with it) made my day.

The good news is that NPPA has gotten Amtrak to agree to review and update its police guidelines in regards to photography. But that, of course is not as funny as what happened to set it all off.

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Why your trademark is important and an interesting story to go with it.

29 01 2009

I recently read a case about a company called Polaris Pictures Corp. This is not to be confused with Polaris Images, the reputable picture agency. But when I first heard of this case, that was the first thing I wondered. This is why trademark law is important.

There is a good reason why you wouldn’t want to confuse the two companies. First of all, PPC was barely a business at all. At best, they had an interest in some screenplays. You don’t want your clients accidentally calling this company.

Secondly, the company, was involved in some rather dramatic alleged scams involving insurance and a million dollar yacht. Not good pr to be associated with.

There is more than one case involving this company, but this one has a pretty good summary . It reads like a daytime drama.

This case is also an example of why I love it when an opinion is written by someone with good writing skills. Being a good writer is very important being a good lawyer and judge. The “truth is better than fiction” quality of this case would be lost on the wrong writer.





Notes from the Lame Duck Session

11 12 2008

A couple of interesting things happened in Lameducklandia today.

– Approval of the auto bailout. Booo.

– Condemnation of the Mumbai attacks. Duh. Would people have thought otherwise?

– Extension of the broadcast authority timeline (related to the digital tv transition)

– S.J. Resolution 46 ensures that the Secretary of State (Hillary Clinton) will have the compensation that was in effect on Jan. 1, 2007. I assume this is an attempt to get around the constitutional problem of having her serve in an appointed position for which she voted on a raise. I’m not sure that it solves the problem, technically, but it does address the spirit of the problem

“No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time…” (emoluments being salary/ compensation)

071107-constitution-awc-075This is not the first time this conflict has come up. And it has been ignored before, or rather, dealt with by reverting to the pre-raise salary.

But the fact of the matter is that the Constitution doesn’t have the words, “unless they do x,y,z….”

The congress may be trying to solve this problem by legislating, however you can’t leglislate your way out of the constitution.

But I told my husband that I had one solution… that it doesn’t apply to Clinton because the constitutional clause clearly says, “he”. I wonder if that would work. ;o)

A post on the Daily Kos explains the whole dilemma very well.

Ironically, it is only a $4,000 raise, surely chump change for someone like Clinton, especially considering that she had her eyes on a different job.

And then again, it is only the Constitution. Seems like the judiciary is the only branch of the government that is even pretending to follow it these days anyhow (and frankly even they abandon it when it suits them).





F- – CC vs. Fox

28 10 2008

This should be interesting:

On Nov. 4, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a suit against the FCC by Fox, about a fine for broadcasting cuss words.

Cuss words were uttered during an awards show. Because the FCC guidelines regulate profanity over the airwaves (and a very vocal group complained), the FCC fined the network.

I’m sure lawyers everywhere are waiting to see- will the offending words be repeated before the Court? Will they be repeated during questioning by the justices (not likely)? If the words are profane, then will C-Span run into trouble when it broadcasts the audio recording of the oral arguments? If it is unfit for broadcast, will it be unfit for “the nine.”

And how do you argue about the use of a vulgar word in front of the Supreme Court of the United States, without mentioning the words, which may be interpreted as a lack of respect by the justice? That’s what makes it fun!

http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6608206.html

This issue was famously before the court 30 years ago, in FCC v. Pacifica. The case, tried in the 1978, was about a broadcast of a George Carlin skit about “seven dirty words” that you cannot broadcast. The skit was broadcast, the radio station was spanked, and a court case ensued. The result was a Supreme Court decision stating that the First Amendment does not protect vulgar and offensive speech from regulation by the FCC

Interestingly, the entire judicial opinion did not include any of the allegedly offensive words (but the transcript, in the appendix, was full of them).





Phun update

2 07 2008

My friend Rebecca said my blog was too serious. So in honor of summer playfulness, I wanted to remind everyone about my “Law is Phun” section. Some of the fun thing you might find:





Law is Phun, pt. 3

11 06 2008

Part 3 in our Law is Phun series, courtesy of the footnote in Easter Seals.

United States ex rel. Mayo v. Satan & His Staff, 54 F.R.D. 282, 283 (D. Pa. 1971)Bloody Hell Pond, Beppu, Japan

Okay, so I’m thinking, maybe there is a bar, named “Satan and his Staff,” that has run afoul. But no, the first thing I read in this case is that the plaintiff is claiming that “Satan has on numerous occasions caused plaintiff misery and unwarranted threats, against the will of plaintiff, that Satan has placed deliberate obstacles in his path and has caused plaintiff’s downfall.”

Yes… I think I must read further. Apparently the plaintiff (Mr. Mayo, not the U.S.), claimed that Satan (yes, the fallen angel himself), had violated his civil rights as a citizen of the United States.

The court dealt with this by saying that even if the plaintiff could prove a civil rights violation, he had presented no evidence that the court had jurisdiction over the defendant. Of course, if Satan, like anyone, had ever filed a case in federal court, he would have submitted to the jurisdiction of hte United States.

The plot thickens, as jurisdiction may actually be available because, and I quote, “there is an unofficial account of a trial in New Hampshire where this defendant filed an action of mortgage foreclosure as plaintiff.”

But then the court decides that this case would still be improper, because frankly, the class of people who are likely to want to be joined in this case are too numerous, thus it would be more appropriate to be a class action suit.

The attempt to file this case was denied. Duh. What were they expecting, an injunction? An injunction is only granted if it is easy for the court to enforce.

I did a quick LexisNexis search and found that while a couple of “churches” following Satan have been sued, and a guy who had the nickname, “Satan” violated his probation and it was therefore revoked, this was the only case I could find where someone attempted to sue Satan. On the other hand, God has been sued multiple times, and a surprising number of people using the name “God” or “Allah” as their name or nickname have been subject to criminal prosecution or been a party to a lawsuit. I guess more people are mad at God than at Satan.

Come on folks, if you defeat God in court, do you really think you will win in the long run?





Law is Phun, pt. 2

13 05 2008

Part deaux in our Law is Phun series, another “delightful” case name, courtesy of a footnote from Easter Seals:

United States v. 11 1/4 Dozen Packages of Article Labeled in Part Mrs. Moffat’s Shoo Fly Powders for Drunkenness, 40 F. Supp. 208, 209 (D.N.Y. 1941)

– Well, I think if you tried to guess what this case might be about, you would probably guess right. Back in 1930’s, Mrs. Moffat (probably really a guy) marketed this product made of Antimony & Potassium Tartrate, claiming that it “cured” drunkenness. Before you run out to the grocery store looking for Potassium Tartrate (whatever THAT is- a distant cousin to the Carbolic Smokeball, perhaps?), you should know that the court granted an order condemning the product as mislabled, because:

1) it did not cure drunkenness; and

2) it was dangerous to health.

If you want to know more about the dangers of promising a cure that you can’t deliver, read Carhill v. Carbolic Smokeball Co., 1 Q.B. 256 (1892), a case where a manufacturer promised £100 to anyone who used the “health promoting” smokeball and got the flu. Unfortunately it was in the middle of a flu epidemic. The ad was determined to be an offer (a departure from the usual, more on that later), which was accepted when you got the flu. Uh Oh.

Please comment or ask questions. It will make this site more phun!