Peter S. Chamberlain's Techdirt Profile

Peter S. Chamberlain

About Peter S. Chamberlain

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  • Aug 10, 2011 @ 11:57pm

    Re: What's in a word?

    I'm a retired lawyer, and have been involved as a party in some litigation. You're just flat out dead wrong. Anything you say, or don't say for that matter, can and will be twisted around and used against you.
    One error in story: the average criminal is not as bright as he thinks he is and getting him to keep his mouth shut and not write foolish letters, too, is a challenge for defense counsel. My favorite example: letter to judge:
    I didn't do it. I wasn't there. I saw the girl (victim)." Another client said, in court, "I didn't steal the car, the dealer left the keys in it." Civil case defendant: Do you have a current official Volkswagen manual? No. But I paid Joe Doaks to sneak one out for me and the dirty thief didn't steal one for me like he promised." I wasn't going over 60 [then, minutes later) 70, then, later, 80."
    Expressions of sympathy for the other guy hurt in a wreck, "You people . . . ," "I thought . . . ," not reporting a rape instantly, or "I think I need to talk to a lawyer" can prejudice nad have prejudiced cases.

    This "anything you ever said on line can and will be used against you forever" problem is very real, as you will learn if you ever find yourself caught up in a lawsuit, or on TV news, and get asked about it all, Everybody can be made out to look like a liar if somebody wants to do that. I had a judge insist I had said something in an oral argument, while talking about another point, that would have been contrary to something I had said fourteen times in writing in the case record. I never cold find out what he was talking about. And that's just the things I have said and posted publicly.

  • Aug 10, 2011 @ 11:31pm

    Brain, electronics, etc.

    I stumbled across an article in Fortune awhile b ack that noted that we still don't know much about hw the six (6O), always six (6), layers of the cerebral cortex communicate and work. I think Paul Allen was said to have funded some research on this.

  • Aug 08, 2011 @ 02:05pm


    "The Legislature, in its infinite wisdom" , , , "is presumed to have used every word carefully and intended the result of the words chosen" or not chosen. As a retired lawyer, I've dealt with a lot of state and federal laws, some of which I know were cobbled together in the middle of the night and are full of typos, computer glitches, and absurdities, not to mention special favors slipped in for big contributors and laws never intended to do what the title says they did, so politicians could tell one group they voted for a law and tell another they gutted it. For years, Texas' DWI law was so fouled up not even the appeals court justices could agree on what punishment it provided in some common situations. News coverage of legislation and other legal matters is quite generally awful and leaves out things like the provision in this law distinguishing current form former students. However, even with this, the law does appear to be an attempt to respond to a problem done badly.

  • Aug 08, 2011 @ 01:47pm

    Re: Re: What an odd ruling.

    Right. As a retired lawyer with a lot of teen clients, and the victim of assorted state and federal felonies myself, I disagree with the poster who sees posting "for a good time call . . " on a toilet stall wall as a prank rather than a civil defamation tort or a crime, and doing this on line is worse. "Who steals my good name . . ."
    Whether the other teen guilty, who should certainly be punished enough that they don't do this kind of thing again, should be burdened with a felony, which has serious lasting life-damaging consequences, is a separate issue. We need to deter this kind of conduct, but, unfortunately, teens simply are not deterred by hearing of someone else getting killed driving drunk or high, or getting a life-shattering sentence for a crime. The adults should exercise some judgment and discretion here, and the schools should do a much better job of educating kids not to do things like this.

  • Aug 08, 2011 @ 01:26pm

    Re: It's an Arguable Case, at Least

    Jim Harper, whoever he is, is the first poster here who evidenced a knowledge and understanding of privacy law, and his other comments I looked up checking on him here appear sound, too. I practiced law, including privacy issues, for 35 years. Picking a jury might be a delicate and tricky job, but I hope the female student sues, if only to clarify some law, but I think her cause of action for invasion is state rather than federal subject matter, and I would rather bet on a turtle race than any, and especially this, lawsuit. The young woman was very negligent here, as the court said in the case of the human toe in the chewing tobacco we studied, in doing this on camera I presume the students knew existed and in any event at school where anyone might walk in, and this was presumably againstg some broad school rule (assuming there is anything not prohibited by the rules of the average public school) but showing the pictures was calculated to cause severe emotional distress even to a person of ordinary sensibilities, outrageous, cruel, etc. I'd fire him if I were on the board.

  • Aug 03, 2011 @ 10:23am

    The Peer Review Reference at End of This Comment

    Re the "peer review" aside to this post: As a lawyer, I find a real problem with the Supreme Court's requirement of "peer review" to validate either scientific or expert evidence so that it can even be offered. First, where are you going to publish the average first piece of new expert, much less "scientific" knowledge, evidence, and procedure? Second, who is going to read through, test, and publish such peer review (assuming anyone would publish it) unless the subject is commercially huge like cigarettes or breast implants, and I've got my suspicions who funds most of the published actual or alleged research on those, for example. The irony is that the five brilliant liberal Justices of our same august Supreme Court just short-circuited its own standards for such scientific evidence again, including overlooking the same leading author on the subject that they had cited for another point, thus screwing up all future cases in the field of child sexual abuse evidence and testimony, in Lawrence v. Louisiana, not the first time they have done this in diverse more or less arcane fields that don't draw a lot of expensive review. The very defense-oriented Supreme Court of Texas has also fouled up some areas this way. How many gas tanks or left front wheel assemblies have to come loose before anybody outside the company starts doing peer review?

  • Jun 22, 2011 @ 07:14am

    Righthaven, bar discipline

    I'm a retired Texas lawyer, with lots of arcane experience including writing ethics opinions, but not an IP expert though I did one appeal on a trademark etc. issue. It has long puzzled me how either Righthaven, which is kind of like a collection agency, or RIAA, a trade association which represents content creators and copyright holders but isn't one, so that neither appears to be a "real party in interest" in such cases, has standing to and can maintain a suit on what are essentially somebody else's actual or alleged rights. Court can only adjudicate live cases or controversies, and those can only arise between the real owner and somebody. It's only after those jurisdictional issues, that go, among other things, to the court's power to decide a case, are resolved that issues of champetrry and barratry kick in. It like if the private security guard company rather than the store tried to sue or prosecute you for shoplifting or giving the store a bad check.
    I don't know the rules in Nevada, but here, the fact that someone has filed a grievance complaint against a lawyer with the State Bar is private, and the complainant is not allowed to publicize the filing, until after the Grievance Committee has investigated, held a hearing, and made its decision. You are not supposed to use either the Bar grievance or criminal processes to gain an advantage in a civil case.

  • Jun 04, 2011 @ 01:35am

    Sex Offenders etc. on etc.

    Most of the offenders are not on the sex offender registry for the simple reason that their victims didn't endure what is required to prosecute them, were too young at the time, can't identify them, etc. Most sex offenses occur within the immediate or near extended family, or other relationships of trust and confidence. Several I know about involve incestuous rape committed by elected and high appointed officials, candidates, and politicians palmed off on us by both political parties, and there has been troubling evidence that both parties knew about some notable cases and covered for each other/s "perps," as well as their own, in a kind of "Mexican standoff."

  • Jun 01, 2011 @ 10:20am

    Mimimalist Future Copyright Sonograms etc.

    I?m a retired lawyer but not a copyright or IP expert, and have read through the DMCA but not taken any courses on it since it was enacted after my retirement. Please tell me you?re kidding about the copyright royalty demand for posting the ultrasound pictures of your as yet to be born child, and they don?t really send those demands, either to proud parents to be or impe3nding new defendants in utero, yet. I?m sure they will now, but please tell me they haven?t until you so brilliantly suggested this new income steam. I?m still not clear about what in the ultrasound picture they claim to have created by their own intellect, too. What would the total liability of the pre-born child whose ultrasound was used in the famous ?Is something inside telling you to buy a Volvo?? commercial, the parents, or Volvo, be?
    I?m lost track of the lawsuit over the claims of some large medical enterprises to some manner of legal rights to individuals? apparently un-recombinant DNA. Since we know you can gather DNA samples from soda cans, cigarette butts, spit on the sidewalk, etc., not to mention certain felony crime evidence kits, would the person who originally acquired that unique DNA by conception and birth be liable for making it available to anyone other than the medical facility claiming rights in it? Since no human actually designed the DNA, it escapes me how any person or entity could claim to have acquired intellectual property type rights in it.
    My elderly parents were running a small hotel in northwestern Pennsylvania many years ago when it honored reservations by and had as guests a number of fellows on their way to a now-infamous meeting of leaders of a certain infamous organization variously called the boys, the Mob, the Mafia, etc., the existence of which, in a brilliant takeoff on a brilliant PR campaign by the Devil, J. Edgar Hoover, the D.A. of Brooklyn and New York, and others had been persuaded to say didn?t exist, complete with a slogan, ?No, Virginia, there is no Mafia,? itself ripped off from the Baltimore Sun?s famous ?Letter to Virginia.? They carried heavy gun cases, claiming they might do some crow hunting, which would have required incredible skill with the weapons we saw, and tipped well. Shortly thereafter, the hotel received a demand letter from SESAC, of which none of us had ever heard, demanding royalties for some obscure march played at halftime of the Super Bowl which had been playing on the TV in the hotel bar. Mother (a) confused them with the Musicians?? Union, (b) confused that with the Teamsters who were involved in a high-profile investigation at that and other times, and (c) was sure this was somehow connected to our recent high-tipping guests. I checked with someone knowledgeable and got this resolved cheaply once I learned that they did exist and represented some, albeit a few, artists we had ever heard of. Then, of course, ASCAP, who we had heard of, contacted the hotel, about, for example, some piano and sing-alongs, and they mistakenly responded that they paid SESAC instead. A quick conversation with them, and a quick call to the Hotel Association, revealed that they had already negotiated reasonable blanket license rates for small hotels. I knew abbot BMI but don?t know if they ever made a demand or not. We considered copyrighting a bunch of my aspiring musician kid brother?s and some of his friends? guitar licks etc. forming our own Performing Rights Society, and seeing how many small businesses would pay them, but didn?t actually do that.
    Don?t get me started on DRM. Somehow I cannot figure out how that would work on DNA or individual people. If the rights to my DNA belong to Johns Hopkins and my wife?s to the Mayo Clinic, and we and our child live in Texas, what court has jurisdiction and venue of the lawsuit and which state?s law applies? If you buy a prize cow or bull, how many cloned copies, and how many natural copies, are you allowed to make, and how would they divide3 up the royalties? I suspect that it violates the license on MS Excel if I get one of my good computer geek buddies to create a program that runs on it, compares some options, and prepares bankruptcy court filing documents that comply with a set of official requirements the government sells no workable program to create, and the commercially available ones tend to be expensive, clunky, and hard to use.
    Lee DeForest was apparently quite good at spotting patentable elements in circuitry in the early days of radio. Two people at two different companies apparently developed television independently. That?s why they have no gone to first to file.
    The law book companies?a field now reduced to a small handful because the big ones that used to compete in some things have merged, been taken over, consolidated, etc.,, --have set it up so that the electronic copies of these same books turn into pumpkins and have to be re-purchased frequently. That?s outrageous. Even more so is the state governments and politicians letting them assign and copyright the only official and proper ways to cite laws and court cases created by public officials with public money that are open public records. You end up with expensive books you have to buy because the official comments on the law don?t appear in the free versions or the electronic versions, and you have to keep replacing them because they change six pages every two years.
    My copyrighted and un-copyrighted copies of the Constitution say Congress is authorized to grant patents and copyrights for limited terms of years. It escapes me how Congress thinks it can grant retroactive copyrights, except to cure accidents like the poor guy who forgot to renew the copyright on It?s a Wonderful Life, or copyrights for ?limited? terms longer than the author?s or anyone?s natural life, or in virtual perpetuity.
    There are a whole lot more content users than copyrighted content creators. I?m both but consume a lot more than I create, especially that I may ever try to sell. I grew up on paper books, including law books, that you could use or show to a judge or anyone else without having to pay for them all over again. If a mystery writer I never heard of even on writing Web sites until I read about him on a computer site can make a chunk of money selling his work exclusively on line at ninety-nine cents a book copy, surely there is a way they can do a better, more efficient, and cheaper job of this. Now the fun problem is that I need a copy of what one law book said in 1999, nobody I know has a copy anymore, and the publisher won?t sell it to me or wants several times the original price, making it unaffordable.
    One would think that if the EU can force us to change our law on some parts of IP, they, plus the majority of Americans I know who want good privacy protection, should be able to get Congress to pass some, if they want to pretend this is still a representative government.

  • Apr 13, 2011 @ 07:27pm

    Re: Child Porn, Contact Child Sex Offenses, etc.

    If you believe either the police or federal statistics on crimes in general and sex crimes in particular, you probably are fool enough to believe the official inflation, unemployment, underemployment, and health care numbers, equally fictionalized, too, and I'd like to talk to you about a great deal on a bridge. I have had attorney-client and other privileged and confidential relationships with an awful lot of survivors of such crimes, including an awful lot of incestuous sexual abuse as children, that are not in the statistics because they were discouraged from reporting or the authorities didn't do anything. I was the outcry witness in some of these. Child abuse, school, medical and psychiatric, etc., professionals complained to me about the authorities not dealing with their reports, too, and I saw some of that. I know about some local online child porn my computer expert, now deceased, quickly located after another child abuse expert got a lead on it, which we forwarded ot the authorities, and the federal prosecution and conviction at trial of one local dealer with what the FBI and prosecutor told me was 200 customers plus suppliers. I represented the daughter of one very serious physical sexual abuser of his own daughter whose Air Force base commander was allowed to resign on eve of federal tr4ial for using AF computers to deal child porn. I have taken courses from one national top expert with Air Force etc. as clients who told us about connections, as well as unprosecuted cases. Be very, very careful with any alleged scientific studies and statistics that would happen to be convenient for those who make money off a morally reprehensible activity. Look at what was eventually proven about the so-called science used to support the claim that there was "not a cough in a cartload" of cigarettes.
    By the way, the biggest single cause of decrease in violent crime has not been the legal and criminal justice system but the demographics, the pig having worked its way down through the snake. Many of those people who are inclined to commit violent crimes give that up or cut back on it as they age.
    Since a child cannot consent, child porn is, among other illegal things, stolen goods, and you can never get good title to and possess those legally.

  • Apr 09, 2011 @ 11:35pm

    Re: Planespotter -

    Right! They keep overlooking the obvious fact, well known to every terrorist trainee, that the Christmas day bomber did in fact have no trouble getting, and got, onto the planes without being "screened" by TSA. The only qualification for this whole Homeland Security and TSA scam is political. Of course it was a joke under Bush's people, too. The whole thing is theater, a sham, and a scam. Somebody with hte right connections is ge3titng rich off this. Years earlier, when the threat was "take me to Cuba" hijackers, and they fist put in mental detectors, etc., a newsman in Dallas got on successive flights with a revolver and an Army .45 using nothing more sophisticated than two Neiman-Marcus shopping bags, and he got on the second plane after telling them about getting on the first one. By the way, the legal definition of a "deadly weapon" aptly starts with the word "anything."

  • Apr 09, 2011 @ 09:07pm

    Forwarding Email as copyright infringement

  • Apr 09, 2011 @ 09:02pm

    This would get even more troublesome under the new "first to file" system replacing the old "first to invent" criteria which could be hard to prove.
    The "disrupt an entire industry" argument is, for openers, illegitimate. If you build your business model or industry on a patent on something you didn't really invent, and can't create from "scratch," that's like arguing that you're an American citizen and built your house on the National Mall or within a national park and saying I have to pay you to go there to boot.
    By the way, has anyone considered the potential liability if they filed an application under penalty of perjury stating that they had invented and were entitled to a patent on the genes for virulent types of cancer, or on polio or smallpox.

  • Apr 09, 2011 @ 09:02am

    Re: "do away with privacy"???!!!

    I hope you're kidding!
    Some of the biggest players in both the technical and political arenas have said things like "You have no privacy. Get over it.," and, at the same time, candidly admitted that "the laws are written by [their] lobbyists." It is long past time that the conservatives and the liberals, both of whom profess to support privacy rights as essential to liberty, which it is, quit partisan bickering and glory-hogging, get together, knock some of our "the people be damned" politicians of both parties' heads together, and pass some tough personal privacy laws broad enough to cover existing and new and emerging technology, etc., with real civil and criminal teeth in them. But don't bet on it because the money's on the other side.

  • Apr 09, 2011 @ 08:51am

    Re: Privacy, "My country"???

    You say "MY [your] country" just went through this, but nothing here reveals what country that is.

  • Sep 04, 2009 @ 05:44pm

    Copyright in Briefs, Compliants, Contracts, Legal Documents

    I'm a retired lawyer whose practice only occasionally involved copyright, etc., issues, but have a lot of experience drafting documents, something one professor I knew published an article proving most general practictioners try to avoid.

    One one end of the spectrum was the "handout" prepared by an expert for a bar association Continuing Legal Education presentation, which a lawyer I represented actually had the gall to replace the first page, bill a client for preparing, and file with a court as his own work without
    crediting the real author.

    A professor publishes forms of corporate articles, bylaws,etc., for his state, in his school's copyrighted Law Review. No provision is made for licensing the use of these forms. They become standard in the field.

    Lawyers buy Form Books, with and without citations to cases that have construed some of the language, from the State Bar andf the law book publishers. They are adapted, mor or less well, to the facts of many cases, in the course of which, contrary to the fine print license, they are widely copied onto various law firms' computers and used over and over. They are also copied by other lawyers including those on whose clients they are served.

    Lawyer A adapts many of these forms, for a fee, to facilitate their use by his own, and others' law firms' secretaries and word processors. It is amazing how badly some expensive commercizl and official forms are set up for actual use when they can be made practically foolproof if the attorney will do his job. He also adds titles and an index, and some additional provisions.

    Oh, by the way, the forms in the books are often, though not always, not original but borrowed from court files, etc.

    I don'tthink the authors of the DMCA even gave any thougt to this, amongamny other questions.