We recently talked about Aaron Greenspan for his efforts to continue
some of the efforts that Aaron Swartz began -- freeing up information to legal documents, in particular. However, back in 2007, we also wrote about Greenspan for being yet another Harvard person claiming
that he really invented Facebook, and that Zuckerberg copied from him. We thought those claims were kind of silly. Greenspan did eventually settle
with Facebook on a trademark claim (after Greenspan tried to get Facebook's marks cancelled), though last year he tried to claim he had new evidence
of copying by Zuckerberg, which all seems fairly silly. As we've noted time and time again, ideas mean little. It's all about the execution. Facebook executed in a way people wanted. Get over it.
That wasn't Greenspan's only long shot legal dispute. He also sued author Ben Mezrich, Mezrich's publisher Random House, and Columbia Pictures, claiming that they all more or less rewrote his own book. Mezrich's book, Accidental Billionaires
, became the hit movie The Social Network
, and Greenspan claims they both infringe on his own book, which he had trouble publishing, about the origins of Facebook. Greenspan is representing himself (pro se) and hasn't had much luck. The case was easily dismissed by both the district court and the appeals court. The district court reminded Greenspan that you can't copyright facts. I tend to think that Greenspan's legal escapades concerning these things are simply tilting at windmills. There's no case here and he should really move on.
That said, there is a really fascinating tangent to all of this. After the appeals court once again rejected Greenspan's arguments, he went through the process of filing to ask the Supreme Court to hear the case (the chances of this actually happening are very, very, very slim). However, his blog post about his reasons for filing and the insane process that the Supreme Court makes you go through
is absolutely worth reading. Basically, he notes that every step of the way there are bizarre, convoluted and ridiculous rules that seem to serve no purpose other than to try to make it frustrating as hell for a normal everyday person to actually appeal to the Supreme Court without hiring an expensive lawyer and/or some really expensive services. Here's just a snippet of a much longer piece, which I highly recommend, despite my feeling that his lawsuits are a complete waste of time.
The first thing to know is that the finished booklet must be 6 and 1/8th inches wide and 9 and 1/4 inches high.
9 and 1/4 inches is a strange number when it comes to page length. Most of us know paper (so long as we're not in Europe or Asia) as being 8 and 1/2 inches wide by 11 inches high, commonly referred to as "Letter" size paper. If you take a standard sheet of Letter paper and fold it over, you get a booklet that is 5 and 1/2 inches by 8 and 1/2 inches. For the Supreme Court's purposes, that for whatever reason doesn't work. (Interestingly, the dimensions of the printed text block easily fit on a Letter sheet of paper, so Rule 33.1 could be said to be designed to mandate slightly bigger margins, and nothing more.)
Well—you might think (as I did)—maybe they sell 12 and 1/4 inch by 9 and 1/4 inch paper in stores (so that when you fold it over lengthwise you get a booklet that matches the Court's required dimensions).
They most certainly do not sell 12 and 1/4 inch by 9 and 1/4 inch paper in stores. It's one of the only things, in fact, that I've ever typed into Google and not found a single relevant result for. However we farm trees to make paper, we do not farm them to make paper of this size. It does not exist in the marketplace.
He goes on to note that the Supreme Court even specifies the weight of the paper, but not the type (which makes a difference in understanding the weight), leading to confusion. Oh yeah, also the filings are encouraged by the Court to be bound together with a specific stitch: saddle stitch. The whole thing is a crazy story -- and while I think this legal filing itself is a waste of time, I really appreciate his sharing the details of some of the insanity it takes to actually file.
Yes, we don't want random crackpots continually inundating the Supreme Court, but it really seems like these archaic rules now serve little purpose other than to make things nearly impossible for anyone who doesn't do exactly this
for a living to take part in the process. Basically, it's just like other sets of regulations whose sole purpose really seems to be to prop up a mini industry that has sprung up around them. In this day and age, it seems only reasonable that the rules should be modernized quite a bit.