Category Archives: News

What does Starbucks have to say about “Dumb Starbucks”?

Dumb Starbucks Logo

A pop-up coffee shop labeled “Dumb Starbucks” opened in Los Angeles recently.  This satirical coffee shop gained lots of media attention, because it had the appearance and feel of the actual Starbucks.  However, this Starbucks labeled all of their drinks “dumb”, like a “Dumb Frappuccino”.

It turns out that this coffee shop was created for publicity by Comedy Central.  Before the Starbucks Corporation knew of the connection to Comedy Central, Starbucks made statements about its protected trademark, stating “Dumb Starbucks” could not legally use the Starbucks name.  “Dumb Starbucks” responded with defending their use of the name by claiming it was a parody.

“Dumb Starbucks” posted a Youtube video claiming their legitimacy.

This coffee shop never sold its coffee or other items.  In the couple of days it was functioning, all the items were offered for free.

In the end, the LA County Health department, not intellectual property law, caused the “Dumb Starbucks” shop to close due to operating without a license.

 

Since the “Dumb Starbucks” is now no longer operating, it is doubtful that Starbucks will pursue legal action.  However, the potential exists, since Comedy Central’s Nathan Fielder claims he wants to open another “Dumb Starbucks” in Brooklyn, NY.

~Brooke Rideout~

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The City of New York Will Settle Both Cases That Were Brought Against Them

police

Mayor de Blasio has agreed to withdraw the city’s Appeal from the Federal District Court  decision rendered by Judge Scheindlin. The city asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to return the case on appeal back to the Federal District Court in New York.

Once the N.Y. Federal Appeals Court returns the case back to the N.Y. Federal District Court, Judge Torres will implement the agreement reached by the sets of Plaintiffs who filed the original two suits against the City of New York.

In the lower court decision decided by Judge Scheindlin, she “ordered the appointment of a monitor to develop, in consultation with the parties, widespread reforms of the department’s policies, training, supervision, monitoring and discipline regarding stop-and-frisk” and that process will go forward as part of the agreement.

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~Jane Fraytet~

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Amanda Knox: Guilty or Innocent?

amandaknox

Overview:

Amanda Knox was born in Seattle, Washington.  In September 2007, Knox moved to Perugia, Italy to study at University for Foreigners for a year.  She lived with three roommates, including Meredith Kercher, who was also a student.   In October 2007, she started a romantic relationship with Raffaele Sollecito.

Kercher, 21, was found brutally stabbed to death in her house, which was shared with Knox.  According to Italian prosecutors, Kercher was murdered after rejected attempts by Knox, Sollecito, and Ruby Guede, to include her in a sex game.

In 2009, Amanda Knox and her boyfriend at the time of the murder, Raffaele Sollecito, were convicted of the murder of Meredith Kercher and sentenced to 26-years.  Rudy Guede was also found guilty of the murder of Kercher leading to a 30 year sentence.  In 2011, the murder conviction was overturned for Knox and Sollecito due to the mishandling of the investigation and evidence.

Her Life in Prison:

During her four years in prison, Knox was told she was HIV positive, which was later proven to be false.   This diagnosis prompted Knox to write a list of all of her sexual partners, which was disclosed to the media.  Also, Knox claims that she was sexually harassed and intimidated by officials while in prison.

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Retrial:

In March of 2013, the decision was reversed, leading to a retrial for Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito in Florence.  In September, the retrial began with Knox in absentia.  In January 2014, Knox was found guilty by the Italian Court and sentenced to a 28 ½ year sentence.

Amanda’s lawyer announced to the press that Amanda will appeal the decision as the case will go to the Italian Supreme Court.  Knox recently stated she “will never go willing” back to Italy.

Will Amanda Knox be sent back to Italy?

If Amanda Knox is convicted of murder, she may have to return to Italy.  But what about double jeopardy, which is a United States law that prevents an individual from being tried again for the same offense?  Well, some experts say this law could prevent Knox’s extradition.  However, others experts say this is not enough to keep the United States from extraditing Knox.  The current extradition treaty between the United States and Italy does not classify double jeopardy as a possible reason to prevent extradition.  In addition, the United States Secretary of State would have the final say over her extradition request.

~Brooke Rideout~

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Oakland Football Cheerleader Filed a Class-Action Suit Against the Oakland Raiders

cheerleaders Lacy T. filed a lawsuit as a class action suit on behalf of all present and former Oakland Raider cheerleaders who have worked for the football team since 2010. Ms. T claims that the owners of the Oakland Raiders violated both California and Federal wage laws, as the Raider cheerleaders were paid $1,250 per season, which amounted to $125 per home game and an average of $5.00 per hour worked.  The federal minimum wage is $8.00.

Oakland Raider cheerleaders are required to work approximately 9 hours per day on game days and attend 2 or 3 three-hour rehearsals per week and make approximately 10 unpaid appearances per year at charitable events.

The Oakland cheerleaders also have many out-of-pocket expenses each year that they are not reimbursed for, which can amount to as much as $650.00. The cheerleaders have to pay their own travel expenses to appearances, pay for Raider-approved hair stylists, yoga mats and false eyelashes.

In order for this lawsuit to move forward, a hearing must be held in the Superior Court in Alameda County in California on whether the lawsuit can be certified as a class action.  The hearing should take place within the next 3-5 months.

~Jane Fraytet~

 

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The Betamax Ruling: Thirty Years Later

betamax

Thirty years ago, on 18 January 1983, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Sony Corporation v. Universal Studios, INC., or what is often known as the Betamax case. Betamax is the name of the early home video recording system more commonly called VCRs. Of course, VCRs have gone the way of cassette recorders and eight track tapes, but at the time it was a ubiquitous and revolutionary change in how people watched televised entertainment. Before VCRs, and of course our current systems of Ti-Vo, Netflix, Amazon and streaming video, we Americans were enslaved to the network system of television viewing, with the exception of the growing cable industry. The VCR gave viewers choice as to when they would watch their favorite programs instead of having to either miss a show because of work or because they wanted to watch something else that aired at the same time.

This also meant that viewers could fast forward past commercials or other parts of a broadcast they did not want to watch. To companies like Universal Studios and Walt Disney Productions (a co-party to the suit against Sony) this was a potential blow to their revenue stream.  They argued originally in the California District Court that the VTRs (Video Tape Recorders) made Sony a contributory infringer of Universal’s and Disney’s copyrights. Universal stated that Sony was liable for such copyright infringement because of their marketing of the VTRs. Universal ET. Al., sought damages, an equitable accounting of profits, and an injunction against manufacture and marketing of VTRs. The District Court denied all relief, stating that:

…noncommercial home use recording of material broadcast over the public airwaves was fair use of copyrighted works and did not constitute copyright infringement, and that petitioners (Sony) couldn’t be held liable as contributory infringers even if the home use of a VTR was considered an infringing use.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the District Court ruling and ordered the District Court to fashion appropriate relief, landing the case before the US Supreme Court when Sony petitioned. In a 5-4 decision, the High Court held with the District Court findings. The opinion read by Justice Stevens held that the sale of the VTRs to the general public did not constitute a contributory infringement of copyright. In addition, the opinion held that many of the creators of the broadcast entertainment would be glad to have their material recorded so that more people could view it. Sony v. Universal was a landmark case and opened the doors to a vast scope of creative invention that otherwise would have been squashed, had the Court ruled in favor of Universal and Disney.

Of course, that was thirty years ago and Sony v. Universal is often cited in regards more recent challenges to copyright issues. The case against Napster and other forms of file sharing evoked Sony v. Universal, and today one wonders if this seminal event of jurisprudence would still carry in today’s high stakes entertainment dollars climate. The Court of thirty years ago could not have foreseen the event of streaming video and entities such as Netflix, Amazon, and Google. The makeup of the Court then was very different, and Justice Marshall with Justices Powell and Rehnquist joining delivered an almost acrimonious dissenting opinion. Modern legal scholars are turning their attention to those dissenting remarks. However, the Court does not like to reverse itself regardless of its ideological and political leanings. Therefore, it is perhaps safe to say that the Betamax case will continue to be evoked and challenged in the field of copyright and fair use.

~Kim Allman~

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Authors Guild v. Google: Google Books and Fair Use

google

Did you hear cheering on November 14th?

Academic librarians and researchers cheered the decision of U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin’s decision to dismiss the lawsuit brought by the Authors Guild against Google. The decision in Authors Guild v. Google supported Google’s digitization of more than 20 million books saying Google Books was protected by the principle of fair use.

History of the Case

Starting in 2004 Google, in agreement with several academic libraries, started digitizing the libraries’ collections, creating a searchable database, and making text available in “snippets.” In response to a search term, Google provides a list of books in which the search term frequently appears. Users could click on a result that links to an “About the Book” page showing sellers of the book and/or libraries that have the book in their collection. Since some of the digitized works were still under copyright and permission was not requested from the copyright holders, Authors Guild Inc. brought a class action suit against Google for copyright infringement in 2005. Jonathan Band’s flow chart of the case’s history leading up to the current decision follows:

GoogleBooksLitigationFamilyTree

Google defended its actions under §107 of the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §107. Google argued that the author’s copyrights were not damaged by having their books digitized into Google Books as readers could not retrieve the entire book. In order to read the whole book, the “reader still must buy a book from a store or borrow it from a library.”

The Decision

Judge Chin stated that “Google Books provides significant public benefits.” Furthermore,

“It has become an invaluable research tool that permits students, teachers, librarians, and others to more efficiently identify and locate books. It has given scholars the ability, for the first time, to conduct full-text searches of tens of millions of books. It preserves books, in particular out-of-print and old books that have been forgotten in the bowels of libraries, and it gives them new life.”

He also said that Google’s digitization was “highly transformative,” in several ways. First, researchers can identify and find books through snippets; and second, readers can search for books through text mining, a new means for doing research in books.

Ultimately, Judge Chin noted that Google Books would actually benefit authors and publishers as readers would be able to discover more books and have easy access to purchase them. He said, “In this day and age of on-line shopping, there can no doubt that Google Books improves books sales.”

The Future

The Authors Guild has already filed an appeal in the case. However, recent defeats for the Authors Guild in its case against the HathiTrust (a partnership between five major university libraries to create a shared digital repository) lead many to believe that they will not be successful in this appeal.

Authors Guild, Inc. et al v. Google, Inc., U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 05-08136

Google Books

~Betty Thomas~

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America’s Bullying Problem: Should We Push Back?

bully

There has been a recent surge of anti-bullying organizations and messages in our society today. The majority of these have targeted bullying within grade school and between children as a way to bring awareness and prevent future abuse. However, a recent case brought to light through the professional sports realm proves that bullying is not found in schools alone. News reports indicate that Jonathan Martin, (former) offensive lineman for the Miami Dolphins, is the alleged target of bullying by Richie Incognito, a fellow teammate on the Miami Dolphins squad. While this case is still being investigated, there have been many facts that have surfaced which both supports and reputes the claims the media has made.

This leads me to my first point, that bullying is “the flavor of the month” for national media and as such, is often hyperbolically stated. If you were to scour the Internet, you will undoubtedly find numerous sites providing bullying statistics. Further review of these stats show that they are open-ended, and each site varied on the numbers given. It leads me to believe there are very little factual grounds for these given statistics. Thus, I am inclined to believe that this “epidemic” is not as widespread as national media would have you believe. However, do not construe this as my personal opinion that we do not have bullies within our country.

I believe that many of the statistics given are “hyped-up” to bring more awareness to the bullying issue. Assuming this is true, I also believe it is not an ethical way to garner awareness to an issue. But, in certain circumstances, hyperbolic statements can be justifiable because of the greater good it serves society. In short, I agree with the notion that it is in everyone’s best interest to have awareness of bullying increased (if only to prevent further incidents from occurring). I also admit that this increased awareness is essential to help the helpless victims of bullying. However, it is my belief that society goes too far to shield victims capable of stopping the bullying from happening.

Take Jonathan Martin and the Miami Dolphins’ scandal for example (to bring it full circle). Martin may have been the brunt of inside jokes and/or pranks within the Dolphins organization. It is also alleged that these actions were orchestrated by Richie Incognito, a player with a terrible reputation in the NFL (which leads me to believe there is some factual basis for the claims). However, Jonathan Martin is a 6’5” 312 lb. wall man who certainly has the physical capability of handling a man of Incognito’s stature (6’3”, 319 lbs.), as can be seen by his play against opponents on the NFL gridiron. With this in mind, the media was still willing to – and did – classify Martin as a helpless victim of yet another case of bullying.

I understand different individuals have their own specific needs and/or breaking points. I do not wish to undermine this notion. But what frustrates me is that the media and society seems to be willing to dismiss the idea that Martin could have and should have handled this matter himself. For starters, the majority of these events took place within an athletic organization (an institution more renowned for its physical capabilities rather than its intellectual capacity). This type of atmosphere breeds a need to be macho (based off societal expectations of athletes) in the locker room with your teammates. This will sometimes include actions that can be derived as “bullying,” however within the team construct it is meant to build camaraderie. If there is ever an issue that arises from this, it is up to the person being subjected to such behavior to put a stop to it.

Therefore, it is in my opinion that Martin (and other individuals facing similar circumstances) should have taken care of the problem. Has society really come to a point where it is willing to disregard an individual’s own obligation to seek and earn the respect of his colleagues? Is it not reasonable to believe that Martin could have and should have taken care of this problem before it was released to the media? And if Martin couldn’t handle his own business then maybe he should have quit before the media made the events occurring within the Dolphins organization a fiasco.

I was raised to believe and live by the notion that you handle your own problems. I was also raised knowing that it is never permitted to seek out a fight, but you must finish any that come your way. In short, I believe Martin should have and could have fought (whether verbally or physically) against his “bullies.” With this said, please do not construe my opinion as meaning that every victim is capable of “fighting back.” In fact, I completely believe in the validity of, and am an advocate for anti-bullying in schools amongst students. But, I refuse to accept the notion that an adult is the helpless victim to a bully. Bullied adults are only as helpless as they allow themselves to bet. So, my question is simple: in instances such as this, would it be best to fight back against a bully or are we at a point in society where our individual accountability has been vanquished by the need for society to be inclusive?

~Matthew Froelich, L’14~

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Kudos to CSL Alumni, Maile Wilson – the First Female Mayor of Cedar City

Graduation

Maile Wilson at Charlotte Law Graduation

The library extends their congratulations to our former SBA Senator and recent graduate, Maile Wilson, who was elected Mayor of Cedar City, Utah, this month.  Impressively, she campaigned while studying for the bar.

Wilson graciously took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for the school:

What have you taken with you from CharlotteLaw?  Has any of your experiences here influenced your choice in career?

I knew even before attending CharlotteLaw that I wanted to be involved in public service and politics. Through my previous educational pursuits, I had received my undergraduate degree in political science and a master’s in public administration.  The legal education I received has helped me fulfill that dream and career path.  Not only do I feel more prepared and have a better understanding of the numerous issues that will face my community, but I also have a large network of individuals that are just a phone call away that I met during my time at CSL.

What did it feel like when you got the news of your election? 

When I first got the news that I was elected I was in shock.  My community has never had two candidates with such diverse backgrounds and although I hoped for the best, I was not sure how the election was going to turn out.  Everyone in my house was cheering as they realized that this was a historic election for Cedar City, Utah.

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Mayor Wilson will begin her term January 1, 2014

How does it feel like to be the first female mayor of Cedar City?  The youngest in Utah?

It is an honor to be elected to serve the community where I was raised.  While I did not tend to emphasis age or gender during the campaign, since the election it has become a major focus as I am both the youngest and first female mayor in Cedar City history.   My election has shown individuals of all ages, especially our youth, that age and gender do not have to be an obstacle for their chosen career path.  Instead, I hope my story has shown that everyone should go after their dreams and put the stereotype notions aside.

What are your goals for Cedar City in your first term?

I have a 5 point plan that I will focus on during my time in office which includes: 1) Updating & expanding the City’s technology resources; 2) economic development; 3) City beautification; 4) prairie dogs; and 5) maintaining water as a major priority for growth now and in the future.

Labor Day Parade with Jaxon and Taylyn

And the CSL Library?

During my three years at CSL I spent countless hours studying in the library. This not only gave me an opportunity to work with my fellow classmates to better understand the law, but it also allowed me to develop lifelong friendships with the other CSL students and faculty.

So congratulations, Mayor Wilson —  I know I speak for the entire library when I say that we are so proud of you and your accomplishments!

~Ashley Moye~

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New York Stop-and-Frisk Case: Part Deux

stopandfrisk

A panel of Judges for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York who  had recently removed Judge Shira Scheindlin from the City’s stop-and-frisk case, have now issued a lengthy explanation of how they had made “no findings of misconduct, actual bias or actual partiality” by  judge Scheindlin.

The New York Times newspaper has written two articles in two days summarizing the actions taken by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The first article explained how the Federal Court had softened its tone from the Order which removed Judge Scheindlin from the stop-and-frisk case.

The second article which was written by N.Y. Times Editorial Board said that the Court’s new Opinion appears less highhanded than the first but still claims that the panel had no choice but to disqualify Judge Scheindlin for comments she made in court and in press interviews.

Judge Scheindlin recently filed a Motion saying that she had…“felt ambushed, and petitioned the court for the opportunity to defend herself”.

This week’s ruling denied that motion and also backed away from some of the serious charges that were implied in the earlier ruling. And by finding no actual misconduct by the judge, the appeals court seemed to signal to the city that there are no grounds to vacate Judge Scheindlin’s decisions”.

The Times concluded that the fate of the stop-and-frisk program will be left up to the City’s incoming mayor, Bill de Blasio, who has pledged to reform the program. The newspaper stated that it “believes the full court should review and reverse the three-judge panel’s ruling”.

~Jane Fraytet~

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NC Court of Appeals Reverses Decision to Vacate Murder Conviction

courtIn a recent decision, the North Carolina Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a trial court’s decision to vacate a defendant’s sentence for first-degree murder after considering the defendant’s claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.

Following the trial, which was decided by a Randolph County jury in March 2003, Defendant Jeremy Marsh claimed the verdict was improperly influenced by jurors’ comments regarding the defendant’s possible sentence and a fear of future retribution.  Specifically, the defendant claimed the comments were “extraneous prejudicial information,” which provided grounds for counsel’s inquiry under Rule 606(b) of the North Carolina Rules of Evidence.

While in deliberations, according to the testimony of juror Kathleen Newsom, “one of the gentlemen began making comments like… would you want Jeremy Marsh to come shoot your son.  Or how would you feel if you give him second-degree murder, he’ll be out in eight years, and he will come after your son.”  In response to those comments Juror Newsom testified, “I voted against my conscience.”

Upon review, Judge Donna S. Stroud found that the comments were “general and nonspecific” and that defendant’s trial counsel did not provide ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to raise the issue.  Because trial counsel was not ineffective in this regard, Stroud held, the defendant’s appellate counsel was not ineffective in failing to raise the issue on appeal.

The court found that only “specific extraneous factual information” about the particular defendant or case at issue provides counsel grounds for inquiry into the validity of a jury’s verdict under Rule 606(b).  While jurors’ beliefs, ideas, and impressions “may at times be incorrect in the legal sense or without any basis in fact,” impeaching the jury’s verdict because of such internal influences “is not supported by case law, nor is it sound public policy,” according to the court’s 17-page decision.

Stroud, along with Judges Ann Maria Calabria and Mark A. Davis concurring, determined that “[e]ven assuming arguendo that had Juror Newsom been polled she would have dissented and revealed the jury’s discussion regarding defendant’s possible sentence, this information would still not be considered extraneous…”  By way of example, the court posited, “if a juror told the other jurors that he got an anonymous phone call the prior evening from a caller who said that defendant told him he would kill the juror’s son if he ever got out of prison, this would be specific information regarding defendant, and thus extraneous information.”

Based on that reasoning, the court reversed the trial court’s decision to vacate the defendant’s conviction of first-degree murder, remanding the case with instructions to consider the defendant’s claims not previously addressed by the trial court.

The decision is State v. Marsh, — S.E.2d — (N.C.App. 2013).  The full text of the decision can be found at http://appellate.nccourts.org/opinions/?c=2&pdf=MjAxMy8xMy0xOTAtMS5wZGY.

~Shannon Reid~

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