April 11, 2012

E-Book Lawsuit Against Apple

It is anticipated that the U.S. Department of Justice will file suit today against Apple, as well as several publishing companies. The reason? A scheme to fix e-book prices.

In 2010, when iPad was released, and iBookstore was new, Apple reached an agreement with five publishers to release books on iBookstore. Before the release of the iPad, Amazon's Kindle was the preeminent e-book reader. Amazon forced publishers to sell most books at $9.99, a price that came in below the cost of the books. Apple's agreement placed many books on the market for approximately $12.99, and gave Apple a 30% cut, resulting in Amazon raising its prices.

The European Commission, in an investigation similar to the DOJ, is probing whether Apple conspired to raise the price of e-books with CBS's Simon & Schuster, News Corp.'s HarperCollins; Hachette Book Group; Pearson's Penguin unit and Macmillan.

Are these allegations fair? The lawsuit alleges that:

    [S]tarting no later than September of 2008 and continuing for at least one year, the Publisher Defendants' CEOs (at times joined by one non-defendant publisher's CEO) met privately as a group approximately once per quarter. These meetings took place in private dining rooms of upscale Manhattan restaurants and were used to discuss confidential business and competitive matters, including Amazon's e-book retailing practices. No legal counsel was present at any of these meetings.

That certainly does sound like the beginning of every story that ends in antitrust violations. But it worth noting these companies are not exactly shaking in their boots: all 5 defendants have seen their stock prices rise today.

December 20, 2011

Facebook Lawsuit Allowed to Proceed

Facebook yet again finds itself involved in another lawsuit. The social-networking service is being sued by people claiming that showing ads that network friends can “like,” violates a California law regarding commercial endorsements. Goodness, being big sure does generate a lot of lawsuits.

Facebook’s bid to dismiss the lawsuit was rejected this week, and it was ruled that the plaintiffs may pursue claims that the company’s sponsored ads violate state law and are fraudulent. The court found that, “plaintiffs have articulated a coherent theory of how they were economically injured by the misappropriation of their names, photographs and likeness.” According to the plaintiffs, a sponsored story is a paid ad consisting of another friend’s name and profile picture and claiming the person likes the advertiser, and they further feel that it’s an unauthorized use of their names and likenesses and they feel they deserve compensation. Raise your hand you think this sounds ridiculous.

Facebook’s argument is that this case should be dismissed by the court before it is dismissed by a jury because Facebook is immune under the law’s “newsworthiness” exemption, which doesn’t require consent, and that the plaintiffs are public figures to their friends, and expressions of consumer opinion are generally newsworthy.

What are they complaining about? As Facebook’s Chief Executive Officer puts it, “nothing influences people more than a recommendation of a friend” and a “trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.” The “liked” ads are doing nothing but benefiting the plaintiffs, but yet they are asking for more money for the unauthorized use of their names. Plaintiffs' lawyers have an undeserved reputation for a willingness to sue their parents for a buck. This article lends credence to it.

Speaking of Facebook, please go "like" our page if you have not done so already. All of the cool kids already have.

March 30, 2011

Maryland Pro Bono Awards

The Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland is giving out four awards for pro bono work this June and the Maryland State Bar Convention. You can nominate someone you think is deserving here.

December 22, 2010

Responding to Dumb Letters

I question whether this response is authentic. But let's pretend that it is.

August 5, 2010

Justice Elena Kagan

Senate voted to confirm Justice Elena Kagan (little premature use of "Justice") as the 112th Supreme Court justice largely 63-37, pretty much along party lines (one Democrat against and five Republicans for).

I'm impressed by the five Republicans who clearly would not have chose soon-to-be Justice Kagan but deferred to the presidents choice under the theory that elections have consequences and the president should be able to largely chose any qualified candidate he wants. How many Democrats will agree with this one day when the shoe is on the other foot? I predict five.

January 25, 2010

Obama Blows Off Jury Duty?

Everyone should take jury duty seriously and there should be no exceptions. Rudy Giuliani served on a jury in 1999 while he was mayor. John Kerry was the foreman in a personal injury trial after his lost to President Bush in 2005. Good for them.

A few weeks ago, President Obama received a summons from the Cook County in his home state of Illinois. President Obama notified the court he had more important things to do.

Well. The President is too important for jury duty? Does he think he is above the law? Incredibly, this is President Obama's quote, "I have better things to do than serve on a jury. Do you have any idea who I am? I'm the President of the United States. Please."

Of course, I made up that quote and I'm kidding. As important a jury service is, some perspective is necessary. We have invested billions of dollars into President Obama. His de facto "hourly rate" would be in the millions. As important as jury service is, I'm glad the President took a pass. Let's get our civics lesson elsewhere at let the President do what we pay him to do: be the president.

November 16, 2009

Lawyers and Twitter

Miller & Zois has just created a Twitter page that links to all Miller & Zois blogs, including the Maryland Lawyer Blog.

I think the best path is to follow our blogs on an RSS feed. But here is another easy way to do it.

We have a lot of lawyers writing a lot of really good, substantive legal blogs. Check them out.

You can also follow me on Twitter here and on Facebook (I'll friend anyone, I have no standards).

November 11, 2009

Moot Court Competition Samples

If you are in a moot court competition in high school, college or law school, you may want to consider our sample trial materials which provide good examples of witness examinations, opening statements, jury instructions, etc.

September 9, 2009

Sally Thorner

This may not be Maryland law related but I don't care: Sally Thorner is retiring. She has been doing the news in Baltimore for 20 years. It feels like it was yesterday. The 54-year-old anchorwoman said her last day at the station will be December 18, 2009.

She's 54 and there are not a lot of female anchors past 50. Certainly makes you wonder if she is retiring or whether she is being forced out by WJZ. If the Baltimore Sun were still alive, we might find out.

July 30, 2009

Affair Between Law Partner and Associate

This is a funny blog post from Above the Law.

Speaking of funny lawyer blogs, have you even seen Anonymous Lawyer? I'm not a huge fan of recent posts. I think the author, Jeremy Blachman, had his heart in it when he was in law school. He quit for over a year and didn't exactly come back to it with the same edge. But he's obviously a talented writer and the archives are hysterical.

July 27, 2009

Kindle and Law School Textbooks

I am still to this day amazed looking up at my class and seeing virtually every student with a laptop. Many are either taking copious notes of everything I'm saying or writing one heck of a email or text message to a friend. (To tell the difference, just call on them. The reactions are very different.)

Anyway, this is a blog post about the Kindle and law school textbooks and the fear that the Kindle might hurt the quality of law school textbook in the long run of history. I have no idea if it will but I found the question interesting.

July 25, 2009

Maryland July 2009 Bar Exam

Getting ready to take the July 2009 Maryland bar exam in a few days? Great! But why are you surfing for information on the bar exam? Probably because anything that you are doing for the first time that is important makes you unnecessarily nervous. Just means you are a human being.

Anyway, you can find on Above the Law reader tips as to what to do in these last days. But just relax, okay? It is all going to be good.

June 18, 2009

Personal Injury Related Links

  • Decision in the Baycol cases regarding inadmissibility of anecdotal adverse event reports
  • Venable makes a contribution worthy of mention to the Baltimore Zoo.
  • The Daily Record has a story this afternoon about a 5-2 Maryland Court of Appeals decision disbarring a lawyer. You can’t help but feel a little bad when someone is disbarred when Judge John C. Eldridge and Chief Judge Robert M. Bell disagree with disbarment. But I don’t think disbarments should be required to be unanimous either so I don’t have a real solution.
  • The TortsProf blog has post regarding an article by Rebecca Korzec (University of Baltimore professor) suggesting a national standard in some product liability cases
  • Ben Sansone’s Missouri Injury Law Blog has a post on personal injury defendants ex parte contact with doctors in Missouri.
  • Another Missouri lawyer, Jeff Lowe writes about efforts in Missouri and Illinois to ban text messaging. Will a law make a difference? I don’t know. I just don’t think a few extra laws hurt if they might save someone’s life.

November 5, 2008

Obama Supreme Court Nominees

Bloomberg has a good article pointing out that President Bush appointed young Supreme Court justices and the more liberal wing of the Supreme Court is coming up for retirement over the next four years. Justice Stevens is 88 years-old and still going strong but even if his health holds up is he going to want to continue for much longer? Justice Ginsburg is 75 years-old. These justices are arguably the two most liberal judges. Justice Souter, who has been a relatively moderate justice, is 69-years-old and reportedly wants to return home to New Hampshire at some point soon.

Accordingly, we should not expect a huge shift in the Supreme Court under President Obama but his picks may solidify the liberal wing of the Court, reducing the likelihood of a conservative shift down the road in the same way that Bush's picks secured a reasonably conservative Supreme Court during an Obama administration. It is the circle of life.

Who might Obama pick?

1. Cass Sunstein
2. Eric Holder Jr.
3. Deval Patrick
4. Merrick Garland
5. Sonia Sotomayor
6. Kim McLane Wardlaw
7. Diane Wood
8. Elena Kagan
9. Hillary Clinton
10. Bill Clinton
11. Merrick Garland

Related Posts

November 5, 2008

Who is Obama's Attorney General?

If this question was asked six months ago, I think we would guess John Edwards would be the next Attorney General. Absolutely no chance now. Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano seems to be the most obvious choice. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is also a real possibility. Reportedly, Patrick and Obama are close friends. Former deputy attorney general Eric Holder, the co-chair of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, is also a possiblity but he does not seem to want the job nor does it sound like his wife, a doctor, wants him to take the Attorney General job if it was offered to him. I would also include Hillary Clinton's name in there somewhere although I don't think she would take the job either.

For my money, I think being a governor sounds like a better job than Attorney General but, reportedly, both Patrick and Napolitano would take the job if offered.

Interesting days ahead....

October 30, 2008

Poll Indicates Slots Are Coming to Maryland

A Washington Post poll last week found that slots on slots in Maryland is virtually a done deal. A whopping 62% of likely voters support what will bring as many as 15,000 slot machines to Maryland.

Is this a good thing? A bad thing? My opinion: I have absolutely no idea.

August 20, 2008

Local Maryland Legal News Links

Local legal stories I have read over the last few days that I thought you might find of interest:

The Washington Post has a good article on former white collar prosecutor Dale P. Kelberman transformation into the go to defense lawyer for the accused politician.

A Baltimore defense attorney who took the stand to defend himself against allegations of witness tampering has filed assault and witness retaliation charges against a former client, according to the Baltimore Sun (patting myself on the back for staying away from criminal law in our practice).

The Baltimore Injury Lawyer Blog writes about how the Baltimore Sun breaks a major legal story by having a reporter sitting in her doctor's office.

The Washington Post reports on the teenage who caused the recent truck accident on the Bay Bridge. I know everyone does it, but do we need to provide the name of the nineteen year old girl that allegedly caused the accident? I vote no.

The Baltimore Sun has an editorial about how we need to make our bridges safer for travel. I'm all for safe travel but it would be nice if the article just provided a modicum of evidence to suggest that bridges are more dangerous other than just "gee, we are lucky this did not happen sooner." Sounds like a classic overreaction to the "story of the month" to me. Lower the BAC to .07 and you will save scores more lives than making a bridge 100% safe.

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has told the United States Army that Maryland plans to sue the Army to force it to finish cleaning up groundwater and soil contamination at Fort Meade. Like him, hate him, you choose. But let's state the obvious: the dude is fearless.

The Maryland Daily Record has a story on a Glenelg pharmacist facing criminal charges for mislabeling prescription drugs. I don't find the story of particular interest. But I went to Glenelg High School. Boy, that area has changed. I don't think Glenelg had a drug store in the 80s.

August 15, 2008

Anonymous Plaintiffs and Naming Names in Appellate Court Decisions

I was musing on the Maryland Injury Lawyer Blog yesterday that I thought it was a better practice for Maryland to follow what appears to the Connecticut model keeping out names of parties if the subject matter is sensitive. Coincidentally, the 2nd Circuit ruled this week that a woman seeking to bring sexual assault lawsuit pro se under a pseudonym may continue bring her case anonymously. You can find the full opinion here.

This is obviously a more intricate issue that what names should be used in appellate court opinions. And I’m not one of these big privacy people. I’m perfectly fine with the FBI listening in to any conversation I have, for example. I don’t care. But it just seems so easy to take people’s actual names out of appellate court opinions. Sure, the names are a part of the public record. But if you are a doctor who has a great career and makes one malpractice mistake before he retires, should he have to spend his retirement seeing the facts of the case laid our for all to see anytime someone Googles his name?

June 23, 2008

Chief Justice John Roberts: Cooler Than You Think?

Is Chief Justice John Roberts cooler than you think? In his dissenting opinion in Sprint Communications v. APCC Services, a case involving the standing to bring suit of collection agencies that were assigned rights - Judge Roberts writes: “The absence of any right to the substantive recovery means that the respondents cannot benefit from the judgment they seek and thus lose Article III standing. ‘When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.’ Bob Dylan, Like a Rolling Stone, on Highway 61 Revisited (Columbia Records 1965).

A great segue for that bit of pop culture or was it a little forced? I vote “a little forced.” But I’m grateful for the effort.

June 17, 2008

First Amendment Pro Bono Work for Someone You Detest

In June’s Anne Arundel County Barrister, a newsletter for the Anne Arundel County Bar Association, the president’s message from Saul McCormick highlights his lawyer/hero of the month, an African-American lawyer named Anthony Griffin. A volunteer lawyer for the ACLU, Mr. Griffin defended “grand dragon” of the Texas Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Michael Lowe, back in 1993 when the government subpoenaed Lowe to provide Ku Klux Klan membership lists. Griffin won the case before the Texas Supreme Court.

The article quotes Griffin saying, “If I don’t stand up and defend the Klan’s right to free speech, my right to free speech will be gone.”

Respectfully, I disagree. People’s rights are being violated all over this country. Why choose to offer free representation to someone who represents an organization you find repugnant? I agree that a judge has to make the right call and follow the law and the Constitution. But as a private citizen with a rooting interest, I’m rooting again the Klan and I wouldn’t lift a finger to help them even if I thought their First Amendment rights were being violated at $500 an hour, much less pro bono.