Archive for the ‘Tech/Silicon Valley’ Category

EFF Suit Blasts Web Prankster for Abusing DMCA

November 2, 2006

Michael Crook is a New York criminal justice student who this summer posed as a young woman in several adult-themed Craigslist ads, exchanged e-mails with several men who responded, and then posted the men’s addresses, employers on his Web site, “craigslist-perverts.com.” (The site has been taken down). Crook is considered a copycat of Jason Fortuny, who similarly this year posed as a woman on Craigslist then posted the responses online, to the great irritation of privacy advocates. But Crook took Fortuny’s “activism” a step further, even contacting one of the respondent’s wives and several of his work colleagues.

Crook dubs himself a “champion of copyright and DMCA” issues on his site, but now he’s got another title: Defendant.

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Maverick Comes Around on GooTube Deal

October 31, 2006

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and noted tech blogger, has been in the news recently for crying “What were they thinking” about Google’s $1.65 billion acquisition of the Web video site YouTube. When the deal became public on Oct. 9, Cuban contended it would open Google up to a massive amount of legal vulnerability:

“Google Lawyers will be a busy, busy bunch. I don’t think you can sue Google into oblivion, but as others have mentioned, if Google gets nailed one single time for copyright violation, there are going to be more shareholder lawsuits than Doans has pills to go with the pile on copyright suits that follow.”

But by Monday, Cuban’s view of “GooTube’s” strategy seemed to have evolved.

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GooTube’s Strange Bedfellows

October 26, 2006

Making the rounds of the Internet so you don’t have to, Legal Pad stumbled over Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu’s Slate article about whether YouTube is, in fact, a litigation mine field for its new owner, search behemoth Google.

Conventional wisdom (the blathering of blog and main-media expertologists) has it that YouTube, being riddled with obviously copyright-violating content, is gonna lose hard when the ever-litigious Powers That Beat in the entertainment industry (and their L.A. law firms) come gunning for it.

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Wilson’s Hits Just Keep On Coming

October 20, 2006

When a report on stock option backdating says there is no evidence your law firm did anything illegal or hid anything from investors — much less that your shop invented the practice — you might breathe a little easier.

For Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, though, those positives resembled a disclaimer in a probing publication issued by The Corporate Library, an investor advocate and research firm based in Portland, Maine. (You can get the report online, but it’ll cost ya.)

The report says that Wilson’s multiple roles at companies under backdating scrutiny — i.e. serving as outside counsel while Wilson partners simultaneously sat on the board that awarded stock options to the law firm — could spell trouble for their clients.

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Judge Defends Google’s Anti-SLAPP Legal Bill

October 11, 2006

When Google appealed a much-reduced award of attorneys fees as too low, it couldn’t have found a more sympathetic ear than Justice Miriam Vogel. Too bad there was only one of her hearing the case.

Google wound up losing its argument 2-1 before the Second District Court of Appeal, which decided today that an L.A. Superior Court judge was within bounds when he awarded Google only $23,000 in fees and costs for Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges’ efforts.

But Justice Vogel, who according to her court bio long ago practiced civil litigation and appellate law at L.A.’s Maiden, Rosenbloom, Wintroub, Vogel & Fridkis, went to great lengths to argue that Google should have gotten the $112,289 it asked for. Her 16-page dissent was longer than the majority opinion (.pdf).

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Why Not Baskins? AG’s Office is Vague

October 5, 2006

So why did former Hewlett-Packard General Counsel Ann Baskins escape state charges in the boardroom spying scandal? Not surprisingly, a late Wednesday afternoon press conference by the attorney general didn’t provide much of an answer.

“As to any other possible defendants in this case, suffice it to say we just don’t have the evidence at this point to charge anyone other than these five,” said Chief Deputy Attorney General Robert Anderson. He was referring to former HP Chairwoman Patricia Dunn and Kevin Hunsaker, formerly a senior attorney and ethics director, as well as three private contractors — all charged Wednesday with obtaining reporters’ and board members’ private phone records under false pretenses.

But Anderson and Attorney General Bill Lockyer made it clear that the investigation “remains active and incomplete” and that there may be “other possible defendants down the road.”

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HP on the Hill: The Buck Never Stops

September 28, 2006

The Hewlett-Packard folk testifying before Congress today passed the buck so many times, it should’ve been the trigger for some unlikely C-SPAN drinking game. Start with Larry Sonsini, who in an e-mail to board member Thomas Perkins had said he’d look into the matter, only, no he didn’t. He told House members that he’d merely asked HP’s legal folks (Ann Baskins, this buck’s for you) if they were within the law, and got a yes, and said so in an unofficial capacity without even knowing what “pretexting” meant.

Patricia Dunn, the chairwoman who took no responsibility for the scandal but resigned anyway, was amazingly disingenuous about the infamous project smeared with her fingerprints. Oregon Republican Greg Walden marveled to HP CEO Mark Hurd that e-mails showed Dunn involved in everything from resources used to the names of the two-part leak probe (Konas 1 and 2 — Dunn likes Hawaii), while saying her testimony put her involvement “at the 30,000-foot level.”

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What Color Is Baskins’ Parachute?

September 28, 2006

Ann Baskins, who quit her job as HP general counsel this morning, is holding vested options worth a little over $3.6 million, according to an 8-K HP filed today with the SEC.

Those she gets to exercise before Nov. 22. And, under the terms of the severance agreement she negotiated with HP, the company will accelerate up to $1 million of her unvested options so that she may exercise them prior to Nov. 22, when all her unvested options will otherwise expire. (more…)

Eshoo [Heart] HP

September 28, 2006

Those damned reporters. All they want to do is bring Hewlett-Packard and Larry Sonsini down.

Not to worry, though. Anna Eshoo the Democratic representative whose district includes HP, and Sonsini’s firm decided to set things straight today at the House committee hearing on HP.

While the media is focused on the HP board and its Valley lawyers from Wilson Sonsini, “when you drill down, there was some shoe box lawyer” responsible for the bad legal advice, she said. Eshoo was referring to Boston attorney John Kiernan, who supposedly told HP investigators that their methods were legal.

After making that point, Eshoo made another point: she had to say hi to Larry.

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Dunn Gets Sloppy

September 28, 2006

 

It was the obvious question, and Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican, just asked it. All along HP ex-chair Patricia Dunn has maintained that she didn’t know investigators were impersonating directors and reporters — also known as pretexting — to obtain records of their telephone calls.

 

So, Walden asked, “how’d you think they were getting these phone records?”

 

“My understanding was that these records were publicly available,” Dunn replied during her Congressional testimony (view Webcast), that “you could call up and get these records, and it was a common investigative technique.”

 

Walden paused a beat. “You really believed that?” he asked, drawing a smattering of laughter. “I’m sorry, but you believe I could call up whoever is your carrier and [ask for your records]?  Your home, your office, your cell?”

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