Quick Access to the Law - what if you could find cases and statutes from your computer really quickly? Findlaw has a lot of this stuff, and so you can get a lot of the federal law there, but I'm talking faster than you might think.
Let's say, for example, that you are in the middle of reading a brief that references 18 USC sec 1001, and you want to see the full text of that statute. For most people this means firing up your browser and wading through several links till you get to where you want to go (for some it might mean firing up the browser and then picking a bookmarked favorite from the browser menu).
But what if when you wanted to see that statute you could just type "uscode" and that would alert your computer to get ready to receive two key pieces of information. It would then prompt you with a dialogue box asking for the Title number, and you would type "18" and then it would prompt you for the Section number and you would type "1001" and then it would take you here. And remember this happens even if you haven't even launched your browswer. Wouldn't that be amazing? Would it be even more amazing if I told you this is already possible?
The next step is to make it work for state law sources too. I'm working on that.
Consequential damages for MRI machine - Howard Bashman notes this Seventh Circuit decision as having the interesting feature of having Judge Frank Easterbook "explain the economics of a broken MRI machine." What I liked was having the court cite 1854 decision of Hadley v. Baxendale and say it "remains the dominant source of law on consequential damages for breach of contract..."
For you non-lawyers, here's what this means. If someone breaches a contract they have to pay damages to the non-breaching party to "make them whole." But non-breaching parties can get creative and say that a variety of bad things, besides just the direct damages from the contract breach, happened. Those additional damages are called "consequential damages" and Hadley says you only get the damages that were reasonably foreseeable at the time the contract was entered into. Okay, it's not that exciting is it? Somehow it seems fascinating to first year law students. And every first year has to read Hadley in their Contracts class.
So I followed the link trail and wound up at this site for Louisiana law. Why would I want to clutter my desk with several volumes of books from West, a few of which I use rarely, if I could just tap into my computer and get the law from here. An official state source. The state updates it, and I don't have to stick pocket parts in the back of a book that I rarely use anyway. How cool is that? See if it works for your state.
I'm bound for South by SouthWest - also known as SXSW, which is a gathering of techies that takes place every year in Austin. It runs from March 8th to March 11th (at least the programs part, the other parts go on longer), but I'm just going for the first two days. Basically, going for the weekend.
I'm looking forward to seeing David Weinberger and J.D. Lasica again (I met them at PopTech last October). But I am excited about the prospect of meeting other people that I have gotten to know in varying degrees from the blogosphere, such as Cory Doctorow and Michael Alex Wasylik. Then there are the people that I would be happy to just hear speak (and of course be overjoyed to meet): Larry Lessig, and Bruce Sterling. I see that the program has Dave Winer listed for Sunday, which would be great. I would love to hear him talk, and would relish the chance to meet him in person.
Anyone else, especially the lawyer bloggers, going to SXSW this year?
Erik Heels, the Patent Lawyer joins the Blawg World - Erik Heels is a friend of Rick Klau's and is a practicing patent lawyer in Massachusetts. Right now is site looks more like a website, but he's using Radio to run it, mostly as some experiment to see if he'll get more hits as a blog than as a website. It has that "official website" look (lose the byline dude, we know who you are), which seems odd to me for some reason. But, he's got the RSS thing going, which is always nice. Anyway, it's good to have him in the blogosphere: we need a patent lawyer to chime in once in a while. I'm going to add him to the law blog outline (under a new speciality listing for "Practicing/Speciality/Patent Law"). Stop by if you can and make his hit counter spin a little faster.
Fair Use is not the Law - noted legal scholar, and MPAA President, Jack Valenti, is now on the record stating that there is no such thing as fair use. Here's an excerpt from the Q&A interview with the Harvard Political Review, as reported by Copyfighter's Musings:
HPR: The MPAA has backed several bills mandating copy prevention technologies. Critics have lambasted these bills for curbing consumer's 'fair use' rights, including the ability to make back-up copies. How can we balance the interests of consumers and the movie industry? JV: What is fair use? Fair use is not a law. There's nothing in law.