Monday, March 31, 2003

ExxonMobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (Sabic)

A dispute over licensing fees resulted in a verdict in a Delaware Superior Court case between the world's largest publically traded oil company and the biggest oil producer in the Middle East. The $416.8M verdict is one of the largest in the US this year.

Sunday, March 30, 2003

what's wrong with firewalls?

It's been a long, fun-filled weekend, and my eyelids are a little heavy. Maybe that's why a Freedom to Tinker article from Princeton Professor Edward Felton doesn't seem to make any sense to me. It's entitled Use a Firewall, Go to Jail. It appears to be about potential state laws which exhibit a distinct lack of knowledge of how the internet works. But that couldn't be true. Oh, wait. It could. I must be really tired.

I haven't seen a bill like this from Delaware, but I also haven't checked the legislative updates/announcements since Wednesday. Maybe I should make that a priority tomorrow morning. If a Delaware legislator saw someone from outside the State doing this, and thought it would be a good idea, I'd have to volunteer my time to run spybot or Ad Aware on their computers for them, so that they can see how easy it is for people to load software on their computers that they aren't aware of. And yes, some of that software "phones home" without the computer owner's knowledge either.

I'd also want to point them to some of the personal firewall programs out there that are not only legal and respectable programs, but are also highly recommended, such as Zone Lab's ZoneAlarm, or Norton's Personal firewall, or McAfee's personal firewall. I don't think that States would want to make these lawful and legitimate programs illegal.

Then again, those laws may not mean these particular programs are prohibited. But it's difficult to tell that from the language -- from the Massachusett's proposed law:
"Unlawful access device." Any type of instrument, device, machine, equipment, technology or software which is primarily designed, developed, assembled, manufactured, sold, distributed, possessed, used or offered, promoted or advertised, for the purpose of defeating or circumventing any technology, device or software, or any component or part thereof, used by the provider, owner or licensee of any communication service or of any data, audio or video programs or transmissions, to protect any such communication, data, audio or video services, programs or transmissions from unauthorized receipt, acquisition, interception, access, decryption, disclosure, communication, transmission or re-transmission.
That does sound like it would include as "unlawful" a personal computer connected to the net running a personal firewall, since the sole purpose of running the firewall is to circumvent technology meant to detect the computer's presence.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

The Judge Said What?!

Which one of the following four statements did a Delaware Judge not say?

A. I am the law.

B. I am the law West of the Christina.

C. Don't do the crime if you can't pay the fine.

D. Is that the finger you want your injection in?

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

taxes, marketers, and the long nose of uncle sam

We pretty much have to let Uncle Sam know our business when it comes to income and finances. There appears to be no getting around that. Taxes are one of the costs of citizenship. When we itemize our taxes, we provide an incredibly detailed picture of our lives, from how we earn our money, to how we spend it. I'd imagine that marketers would probably really like to get their hands on that type of information.

But we also have an expectation that the federal government will treat us as citizens, and not as consumers. When those marketers are the ones processing our taxes for us, it's time to make a little noise (pdf).

jury deliberations

I received a summons for jury duty in the mail recently. I've seen plenty of juries, but the only time I've actually been a juror was during a mock trial in a law school advocacy class. I'm a little apprehensive about being called, but I'm hoping that I get to actually be on a jury.

So, against that backdrop, stories about jurors and jury selection appear to be printed in bright flashing neon to me these days. Like the one where a juror was expelled from a Mendocino Wildfire Murder Trial. Or the jury selection in the Kirby Pucket case. (Celebrityhood and juror selection seem to mix like oil and vinegar.) I'm also wondering if I might get chosen for a case like the one being brought against Tyson Foods.

I do know that if it was a capital murder case or a complex civil litigation such as an asbestos case, I would have probably received a special summons warning me of the possibility of an extended trial. But, I'm still feeling a little antsy about serving.

Monday, March 24, 2003

spam, spam, spam, and poisoned phones

Your phone rings, and you hear the following message:
You have broken the law by posting illegal ads. You must immediately stop this activity and go to the Hangzhou Urban Administrative Bureau for punishment.
The call is from the police. They will ring every twenty seconds until you give yourself up.

Sounds like a system ripe for abuse. Imagine someone posting fake ads with their competitors' numbers on them. I'm not advocating doing that. I'm just saying that due process and hearings are good things.

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Delaware Bar Exam is touted as the toughest in the nation

One of the many hurdles to becoming a Delaware Lawyer (acquiring a license to practice law) is the Bar Exam. At a seminar on January 23, 2003 at the Wyndham Gardens Hotel in Wilmington, Delaware's Chief Disciplinary Counsel said: " Our bar is the hardest bar in the country to pass. And, we have high standards and we intend to keep them that way."

Reader Quiz: What was the process to become an attorney before the standardized Bar Exam?

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Away From Home

Well... Ernie's in Belize and the Army's enroute to Baghdad. I guess that leaves just you and me to mind the store. And remember Newark (DE) is pronounced "New Ark". If you ask for "Newerk", you'll be sent to the Sopranos.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Michael Geist awarded internet and ecommerce research chair

The Ottawa Business Journal is reporting that Professor Michael Geist was rewarded a research chair at the University of Ottawa's Faculty of Law, earlier today.

If the name doesn't sound familiar, it's because you don't receive a copy of the BNA's Internet Law News, which Professor Geist authors. You're missing out on a nice daily (and free) recap of the previous day's news about internet law. Professor Geist also writes a number of articles, and a regular column for the Toronto Star. Many of those are collected on his web site -- Congratulations, Professor Geist.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

Tricks of the Trade

By Private Investigator Michael T. O'Rourke

Question: I am a paralegal with an attorney specializing in civil litigation. We frequently receive cases involving Internet trade. We would like to serve the owner of a web site a summons and complaint. How can I determine who owns a particular web site and a service address?

Answer: Domain name registration information is now maintained by a host of individual registrars. The search is commonly known as a “Whois” search. To determine the correct registrar, begin with a search on Network Solutions, Inc.’s website ( Most web sites are listed here. Network Solutions generally will provide the correct registrar. The remainder of the domains are on one of the following:





I prefer; the site is user friendly and provides you with useful information. The Registrant’s name and address, a name of an administrative contact, the administrative contacts address and phone number, fax number, a name of a technical contact, the technical contact’s organization name, address, phone number, and facsimile, the date the web site originated, an expiration date, and the date, and time of the last update to the site, are listed in an easy to read format.

Once you have identified the individual, or organization, and a last known address, you are poised to identify the contact information for all defendants. If the defendant is a corporation, contact the Division of Corporations in the state of origin.

I always start with the State of Delaware, Secretary of State, Division of Corporations (302-739-3073). Dial “0” and ask the live operator for the Corporations seven (7) digit Corporate ID. Once obtained, ask to be transferred to the automated system. Using your telephone keypad, follow the prompts, and receive the Registered Agent information. (To locate individual officers, please refer to Gail Wagner's question which had been answered in October's Tricks of the Trade.)

You may utilize the Sheriff of New Castle County, or a special process server to effect service of process. Refer to Del Law Title X s.s. 3104 if the defendant is out-of state.

Det. Michael T. O'Rourke is a Member of the National Association of Investigative Specialists, The National Association of Professional Process Servers, and Sustaining member of the Delaware Paralegal Association.

A Court Certified Special Process Server, and a Licensed Private Investigator in DE and PA. Michael specializes in Insurance Defense and Criminal Defense. He invites your questions to:

Loss Solutions, Inc.
824 N. Market Street, Suite 425,
P.O. Box 368,
Wilmington DE 19899-0368.
(302) 427-3600.

Or you may e-mail him at

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

Oops. Are they really locked in? Or is this high security building a hoax?

How safe are we, when the most secure Delaware facility for the criminally insane can't keep its main security control panel up and operational? Some of you may remember that this was the same facility that had a 12 foot high security fence held together by twist-ties (some of which have now been fixed/removed). Nah! Don't worry. They are going to train the security guards to maintain the computer programming that controls all the doors and access. I am sure it will all come out right. Not.

things to do, places to go

If you're in, or around Delaware, and you have some spare time, there are a few people who would like you to consider sharing some of it with them.

Wednesday night, it's the University of Delaware hosting Spy vs. Spy: Down and Dirty in the Espionage Trenches, part of the Spies, Lies and Sneaky Guys Global Agenda lecture series at Clayton Hall, starting at 7:30. A "former major general of the Soviet KGB" and a "former chief of counterintelligence for the CIA" will share a little history, from two somewhat different perspectives.

The Delaware State Police are looking for recruits for their Citizens' Police Academy, which runs for nine weeks on Thursday nights from 6:30 to 9:30 in Georgetown, and starts on March 20th. (On the same page is information about Delaware's Medal of Honor Ceremony, to be held on March 25th.)

Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) is looking for volunteers to help plant beach grass on March 22. This is the fourteenth annual one-day planting drive sponsored by the organization, aimed at protecting Delaware's coastline.

On April 3rd and 4th, Widener University School of Law and the Mid-Atlantic Environmental Law Center join together to present Environmental Citizen Suits at Thirtysomething: A Celebration & Summit. The Keynote speaker for the event is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Contact the school for more details concerning the cost of attending. (There is a charge for the reception Thursday night, but it's difficult to ascertain if registration is required for the presentations during the day on Friday.) CLE credits are available for Pennsylvania and Delaware attorneys, but students, alumni, and members of the public are welcome also.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

how secure is ssl?

The secure sockets layer (ssl) standard defines a commonly used method of allowing secured transactions on the internet during electronic commerce. SSL is being tested in a Delaware District Court. Not whether the technology works, but rather who owns the right to use it, and to charge others for its use. One trial ended today with a jury verdict in favor of the defendants, but another begins on Wednesday.

identity theft and bureaucracy

Identity theft is a problem. Sometimes it's more of a problem for the victim then he or she may realize. An MSNBC article called The Dark Side of Identity Theft points to what may happen when a fake identity is used during an arrest.

us postal email

I came across an interesting discussion regarding the US Postal Service today. It struck me that we place a lot of faith in the delivery of mail. A lot more than we do in email.

The mail goes through. Well, most of the time, the mail gets delivered when and where it is supposed go correctly. Sometimes there are problems. But, the postal service is trying new things to improve their service.

So, when a thread over at Webmasterworld began with the question, "Can you go to jail for filtering email," I thought that it was an interesting query. Especially when it was followed up with, "The answer is YES if it has an USPS Electronic Postmark."

Exactly what does a USPS Electronic Postmark do for us? Might it impose a potential liability upon an ISP filtering mail on behalf of their client? Will the use of US postal emails help to reduce unwanted commercial email?

They're interesting questions, and I think that the Webmasterworld thread may have come close to an answer. But, it's an uncharted territory. When a letter is delivered to your door, it doesn't leave the possession of a mail carrier. Electronic delivery relies upon a stream of travel outside of the control of the postal service. There's no physical space tied to a sender's address, and a receiver's address. Would someone who wanted to send and receive email with electronic postmarks have to register with the post office?

I have more questions than answers myself. I might just have to contact the Post Office for more information, and see what their responses about filtering, and about registration might be. The idea of encryption and digital authentication, backed by statutes for criminal liability for illegally tampering with a postmarked email are interesting. What other implications might the service have?

Governor Minner Rebukes Veteran Volunteers

Who are you going to call, on the eve of war;

In times of economic shortfalls;

In times of another ongoing war on terrorism striking at our country's infrastructure;

In times when funding is being cut from our schools, even though our top-heavy district structure draws needed millions of dollars from our ability to hire teachers by having many times more administrators than is appropriate... and over-paying them;

In times when we have to pay to bribe employers to stay in Delaware;

In times when the Governor has decided that it is time to cook the goose that lays the golden egg ... by raising the filing fees and franchise taxes on corporations so that our State will lose part of its advantage in a competetive market allowing other States to attract our corporate supporters;

In times when the Governor is recommending uncoupling our State estate tax from the federal estate tax, which will in effect raise our estate tax;

In times when the statutorily required legal support for our mentally ill is being funded at as if it were 1985 - - regardless of inflation and a quintupled caseload.

In these times, our current administration has refused an offer of free help from our own veterans.

Even though the framework has been established in State Law (20 Del.C. Sec. 301-308), and even though our Reserve and Guard units are being activated and sent overseas, this Governor's administration has decided that it is not necessary nor appropriate for us to plan for a no cost option to have trained veterans supplement our remaining Delaware National Guard in the event of an emergency inside the State of Delaware.

So, when is the appropriate time to plan? When is the appropriate time to organize and update our training? After we have a catastrophic event? When the phone lines are down? When the cell phone circuits are clogged?

Who better to organize to assist our citizens in times of emergency than people who have been trained to function within an organized unit under adverse conditions? What better price than free? What is there to lose?

Why would our administration refuse this free option in search of one that may or may not be coming down the federal pike; one that will cost money and be manned by untrained and unorganized folk who don't even exist yet?

What are you thinking!?

Who are you going to call?

Sunday, March 09, 2003

would bell recognize the phone today?

When you read an article like one in Wired called Future PDAs: Savvier Tour Guides?, you really do have to wonder if Alexander Graham Bell would recognize the device that he first successfully used in a laboratory on March 10, 1876.

reparations in tulsa

There's an interesting article appearing in Findlaw's Writ section about a lawsuit over a race riot in Tulsa in 1921. The case appears to have a decent chance of success, or at least a chance of a settlement. It also raises the question of what impact the litigation might have upon other reparations' cases. If anything, it forces us to consider the concept of an equitable tolling of a statute of limitations in this context.

living in a windows world?

Larry asked me on Saturday about Linux, and what I thought of using it in the Law Office.

We talked about what it would take to get used to a new operating system. How he would have to find new applications that did what his windows based programs do, and learn how to use those. I mentioned how newer releases of Linux have gotten easier, and easier to install, and that there was a large base of people who have adopted the software and help others to support it. We both like the idea of an open source software community a great deal.

Rather than setting Linux up in the office, we decided that it might be a good idea for each of us to test machines at our homes. Having a Linux box kid-tested may be the greatest way of learning how well it will work in the office. It's also interesting seeing how others have adapted to using the operating system, like Pennsylvania Attorney Kevin L. Ritchey.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

behind the stories

New York attorney Stephen Lee wants you to know the stories behind the stories. His site, called newsiac (a "mosiac" of news), incorporates his journalism skills with a desire to understand the stories behind the stories. He also does the same type of analysis on storylines from TV on his page FootnoteTV. Comics get a similar treatment on Footnote Comics. His Mirror Law (TM): Chicago takes an indepth look at the historical details surrounding the original play, and its real life inspiration.

summer law clerk position available

Position/ Description - Law Clerk

Starting Date and Hours - Summer 2003, Hours Variable

Salary - Hourly, barely above poverty level.

Qualifications - Successful Applicant will demonstrate resourcefulness, independence, drive, organizational techniques, and a friendly approach to others.

Contact - Larry D. Sullivan, Esquire ; or Fax 302-286-6337

Employer - Larry D. Sullivan, Attorney At Law, P.A.,111 Barksdale Professional Center, Newark, DE 19711 voice(302) 286-6336 fax(302) 286-6337

Employer/ Job Description - Solo Practitioner seeks hard working student. Students with high aspirations, 3.5 or better GPA, Law Review experience need not apply. Must have own transportation and tolerate chinese take-out.

Apply/Deadline - April 15

executions aren't always capital punishment

In my private practice, I regularly schedule executions. We assist our clients with the execution of their estate planning documents, such as Last Will and Testatments, Durable Powers of Attorney, and Advance Healthcare Directives.

By executing the documents we are referring to having them signed and witnessed, but it usually raises some eyebrows as I walk with my clients from the conference room to the reception desk. After all, we have just been planning for what may happen after the client's death. And so there is an understandable uneasiness when I then ask the Secretary to "schedule the execution."

But we help people with their documents here, we don't speed them on their way.

States differ on the types of executions that they perform, or whether they have capital punishment at all. I found this chart informative, maybe you will as well.

Thursday, March 06, 2003

the rap against cola

The Village Voice takes a look at the agreement between the Hip Hop Summit Action Network and Pepsi, which came about when rapper Ludacris was dropped from their advertising campaign in favor of Ozzie Osbourne.

findlaw on tv (sites)

Findlaw, which may just be the web's legal site with the greatest traffic, is joining forces with Clear Channel Television, to provide legal news and information on a number of Clear Channel television station web sites across the nation.

making a federal case

In the past eighteen months, federal cases in Delaware increased at a rate unmatched by any other federal district in the nation. A new U.S. Attorney and closer cooperation between state and federal prosecutors and police are likely reasons for the increase.
states' rights upheld

The United States Supreme Court upheld the States' rights to make laws governing the length of sentences for State crimes within the State. In a 3+1+1 v. 4 Opinon (pdf) , the California three strikes statute was upheld. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. ;-)

Wednesday, March 05, 2003

tyco to move to delaware?

Tyco International Ltd., may be moving from Bermuda to Delaware. The company was rocked with controversy last year, when criminal charges were brought against four members of the organization. Their annual shareholder meeting is Thursday, and one of the issues that they will face is whether to move the company to Delaware.
Foreign incorporation "makes it more difficult for shareholders to hold companies, their officers and directors legally accountable in the event of wrongdoing," according to the proposal by American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
It will be interesting to see what comes of this. If Tyco moves, will other companies follow suit? That will depend upon their shareholders.

[2003-03-06 Tyco will remain in Bermuda, but the issue may be revisited next year "after time for more study."]

the color of money

The twenty-dollar bill is set for a change this spring, and a new color will be unveiled on March 27th. The new design is known as NexGen, and the new twenties will likely come into circulation in the fall, with redesigned fifty and hundred-dollar bills to follow within eighteen months.

A PBS article from last year called Secrets of Making Money describes some of the security features that will be retained in the new design.

The Associated Press talked with both the chief portrait engraver and the head of the Bureau of Printing and Engraving on the change, last December. Engraver Thomas Hipschen mentioned how Duke Ellington might look nice on one of the redesigned bills. Something to think about.

Tuesday, March 04, 2003

golden mouse award winners

What makes a good Congressional web site? The best measure might be how well the pages are used to communicate with constituents. One venture that has been set up to review congressional sites recently gave out sixteen "golden mouse" awards for what they considered were the best congressional sites. Silver and bronze mouse awards were also presented.

The Congress Online Project is a
two year project to study Congress' use of the Internet, identify and award best practices, and provide guidance to help congressional offices use Internet technologies to inform and communicate with constituents, reporters, and the engaged public.
Check to see if one of your federal representatives is on their list of the Best Web Sites on Capitol Hill. Congratulations, Senator Carper, on the Golden Mouse award for your site.

Tricks of the Trade

By Private Investigator Michael T. O'Rourke

Question: I am a Paralegal in a law firm specializing in estates and wills. We are attempting to locate the only remaining heir to an estate. Family members have stated the heir is homeless, somewhere here in Wilmington. The Court of Chancery has required we attempt to locate the heir. Any suggestions to help find him?

Answer: Locating defendants or persons with information critical to a client's case is a routine assignment for most investigators. The proverbial "paper trail" we create as we go through life, from a birth certificate all the way through our eventual death certificate, many documents are created along the way.

There are a multitude of sources to check when searching for almost any American: all of the computer databases, voter registration indices, previous civil and criminal litigation, telephone books, cross reference directories, Department of Motor Vehicle records, Social Security data, sometimes police reports, and the list goes on...

The homeless segment of our population does not leave the usual clues, but a record is nevertheless created.

To start an investigation regarding a homeless, or transient, individual, I need some lead or basis to believe that the subject is in a certain area. That information may be developed from the subject's old friends, relatives, associates, ex-employers, or your client. The subject may have written or called someone and given an indication of location or destination. Dates, and times, of last contact are relative.

I will attempt to obtain some, or all, of the following: the subject's full name, aliases, nicknames... age and/or date of birth, a photograph, as recent as possible, and physical description. Medical data (illnesses or deformities) and mental health information could be useful.

In some cases, as a next step, I usually prepare a "Missing" or a "Reward" poster. These are useful for leaving with businesses or individuals, posting in shelter agencies, and areas where other homeless people may frequent. I hand them out to persons I interview during the course of the investigation.

The posters may generate additional leads on the subject's whereabouts, particularly if there is a reward offered for information. The posters should include a picture of the subject, name, description, maybe a reason why you are looking for the subject and how to contact you if someone has information. If a reward is offered for information it should say so on the poster.

Many facilities will post the information near common entrances. I have had several cases where, after I had made contact with the facility management, I received anonymous tips that the subject was at a specific location. Money is a great motivator. Allegiances are very scarce.

I always check the subject's criminal history utilizing the CJIS system located at the New Castle County Courthouse, 500 King Street. If the subject is not incarcerated at the present time, review all available records. Pull the jacket. As limited as the records may be, they can confirm that your subject was in the area on a certain date and time.

Identities of co-defendants, or victims could become valuable at a later date. Sooner or later, most are arrested for "quality of life" crimes (public drunkenness, loitering, panhandling, etc...)

The Wilmington Hospital (501 W. 14th Street) and Medical Examiners Office (200 S. Adams Street) are the two other institutions that commonly have contact with the transient population. Neither institution will provide you with specific confidential information, but will certainly provide a date of last contact, or allow you to leave a poster, or business card. (If a subject turns up dead, or injured, you will certainty be notified.)

The next step is to develop two lists; the first list is of shelter agencies that cater to transients; the second is a list of places that these people typically congregate. These two lists will probably have common characteristics, but there will be separate, distinct locations on each.

Various places you might find on the first list are:
  • Salvation Army locations (105 S. Market Street)
  • Churches and church-sponsored locations, including "soup kitchens" (too many to list, start with the Franciscan Center in the 800 block of N. Market Street)
  • Privately funded charity organizations
  • YMCAs, YWCAs, etc. In many places, street people have formed coalitions or associations to help deal with their problems.
Any of these organizations may he able to help you locate your subject or give you other leads. Wilmington has only one men's shelter, the "Sunday Breakfast Mission", located in the 100 block of N. Poplar Street.

On the list of locations frequented by transients, you will find bus or train stations (100 block of N. French Street), plasma centers that purchase blood from donors (and other income sources), and day-worker pickup locations where they can obtain labor jobs for a short periods of time (Laborworks, etc...).

In addition, common street locations where transients frequent (in the vicinity of the shelter agencies like the Salvation Army, parks, bridges, highway overpasses, etc...), and for some reason, the Train Station is a big draw in Wilmington. I have always found the Amtrak Police Department to be very cooperative.

There are several places here in Wilmington where transients gather to exchange information about shelter locations and where to get free handouts. They panhandle passers-by, share food or drink, and if they can afford it, drugs. In this particular location, they also pass out or just fall asleep on the sidewalk.

The Wilmington Police Department, and the City Safe Streets Program are helpful in identifying current locations. The Safe Streets program has almost 70 square blocks of Wilmington "on camera". A stop to visit this agency would be a smart move.

Unavoidably, I will go to the various locations visited by other homeless people, talk to the people, and check for leads or information. The bottom line is; You must physically visit the locations on the lists, and conduct interviews to locate the subject. Wilmington is a smaller town than you think. It is nearly impossible to "disappear".

Det. Michael T. O'Rourke is a Member of the National Association of Investigative Specialists, The National Association of Professional Process Servers, and Sustaining member of the Delaware Paralegal Association.

A Court Certified Special Process Server, and a Licensed Private Investigator in DE and PA. Michael specializes in Insurance Defense and Criminal Defense. He invites your questions to:

Loss Solutions, Inc.
824 N. Market Street, Suite 425,
P.O. Box 368, Wilmington DE 19899-0368.
(302) 427-3600.

Or you may e-mail him at

homeland duct tape events

From the annual charity Duct Tape Ball in Anchorage (here are some pics from last year's ball), to the courtroom duct taping of a Defendant's mouth in Lubbock, Texas (the second largest State... only until Alaska splits in two and makes Texas the third largest State), we in the homeland are following the instructions of our learned leaders and finding new ways to use aquatic bird adhesives to secure our future.

lexmark to face antitrust charges?

Recently, in a Kentucky District Court, a case was brought by printer manufacturer Lexmark under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to prevent a printer cartridge manufacturer from selling replacement cartridges for Lexmark printers. The case brought a considerable amount of concern over how the law was being used.

Lexmark was successful in getting an injunction last week, under the DMCA. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has copies of documents filed in the case here.

Static Control Online, the cartridge manufacturer who lost the injunction, is trying to defend themselves in the aftermath of this decision in a number of ways. The first was to file a comment with the Copyright Office asking them to find that the DMCA does not apply to printer cartridges or to create an exemption for "the use of chips that allow the interoperability of a toner cartridge with a printer." They are asking others to send in comments with their opinions on the subject to the Copyright Office.

The second was to file an antitrust suit against Lexmark. Their press release is here.

Monday, March 03, 2003

virtual protests and the EU

Last week's virtual protest march seems to have gone off pretty well. Was it legal?

Would it be legal if it took place in the European Union? Maybe. But that could be because the law didn't change there until Friday.
If EU citizens bombarded British prime minister Tony Blair's e-mail, fax or phone lines in the way thousands of American protesters targeted government offices in Washington last week, they could have committed a criminal offense under this new code, said Leon de Costa, chief executive of Judicium, a London-based legal consultancy.
It appears that they are considering changing the law to distinquish between protests and criminal acts.

court archives give a glimpse into history

There's something to be said for the preservation of historical documents from court cases of the past. Court house records have survived when others have long since disappeared. The St. Louis Circuit Court Historical Records Project provides a great glimpse into the history of expansion into lands west of the Mississippi. It also allows us to look at cases where freedom from slavery was an issue.

It had me looking at the Delaware Archives pages to find out what Delaware was doing to preserve the history of life in the First State. While there are some great descriptions of what can be located at the archives, many of those documents aren't online. There are a number of Digital Archives online from Delaware, and they offer an interesting look into the State's past.

Hopefully future attempts to digitally preserve some of the other documents that the Archives office holds will also allow the agency to display them online. What a great wealth of information that would be.

Sunday, March 02, 2003

standards body to look at spam

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) has announced the formation of a body, the Anti-Spam Research Group (ASRG), to study the problem of "unwanted email messages, loosely referred to as spam."

A technological solution, rather than a legal one, may be the best hope for limiting unwanted emails. Though, care needs to be taken to make sure that it's done right. It will be interesting to see what the Task Force's Research Group comes up with.

happy blog anniversary to Ernie the Attorney

It's hard to believe that Louisiana attorney Ernest Svenson only started blogging a year ago today. His blog is one of the shining stars on the web. Thanks Ernie, and congratulations.

syndicating the delaware law office

If you look over at the top left of the page, you'll see a little orange "xml" graphic. I added that this weekend, and used a feature of blogger pro that we've been holding back upon. We've been talking about doing it for months. We now have an rss feed. What does this mean to you? A number of people reading this will know already. There are a number of legal blogs that already have syndicated sites.

There is now another way to view the content on this blog (at least the new posts). You can use a news aggregator program such as amphetadesk (the one I'm test driving now), or a number of others to view the content of blogs that you've selected, and all on the same page.

I've been looking around at some of the news aggregators out there, and I'll probably try a few more out. While I like to visit individual sites, I don't always have time to look at more than a couple at a time. Using an aggregator to read some blogs will help.

Saturday, March 01, 2003

bad 'bots

How much traffic to your web site comes from human visitors, and how much is from programs sniffing out information? One visitor that we've seen in our logs appeared to be coming from the International Atomic Energy Agency. (It's not.) I wasn't aware that the companies like the RIAA and MPAA are using a service that sends out programs looking for their copyrighted materials. (They appear to be.)

There are a lot of programs that circulate the web and collect information. Some are out there indexing the web for search engines. Others are looking at how different blogs are connecting to the web. Most of these programs are known as either robots or spiders or crawlers.

A protocol was developed in the mid '90s that was used to create instructions for how these programs are supposed to behave upon the web. The Robots Exclusion protocol is one that many of these programs do follow. But, not all of them do.

Following the protocol means putting a text file on your server that programs are supposed to look at before they roam around the rest of your site. The robots and spiders and crawlers listed above can be instructed not to visit your site, or certain parts of your site. If you want to deny access to specific ones, you can list them in your robot text file. But, as I said above, not all programs listen to the text files.

There are technological solutions to this problem. An excellent post on the subject is Mark Pilgrim's How to block spambots, ban spybots, and tell unwanted robots to go to hell

a guest post on the dangers of fragrances

One of the issues in Delaware that has been receiving a great amount of national press is the State's Clean Indoor Air Act. A reader of the Delaware Law Office blog wrote in about another danger that lingers in the air we breathe. We encourage people to write in on subjects that affect our laws and our lives, and are thankful for the thoughtfully expressed opinion that we received on this subject. I've added some links, and a couple of minor editorial comments in parenthesis.

Hi. I have never posted a blog, but I thought this is an interesting to talk about. With all of this talk about clean air and a smoke free environment, is anyone aware of the dangers of every day fragrance in our cosmetics, soaps, and cleaning products?

Many people are suffering and some businesses are starting a scent-free workplace policy. It might sound crazy but how many of you have been in the office or a conference room and someone in the room has some perfume or after shave on that is making you feel ill? Or how about when you go to the mall and have to walk through the cosmetic area how difficult it can be to breathe?

The issue of scents and their effect on people with asthma or people with reactive airways disease is not new. Often people with this illness are reluctant to speak on their own behalf because they do not want to appear odd, so they suffer in silence. The problem continues to grow. Of the estimated 4,000 chemicals used to make fragrances, several hundred can be used to make one scented product. Many of these chemicals can cause health problems such as: shortness of breath/wheezing; headaches and migraines; nausea and muscle pain, and asthma attacks. I can't begin to tell you how ill I get sometimes when when my teenager comes home and the fragrance that lingers from her clothes overwhelms the entire room. Or if her friends come over.

She is pretty good about using unscented products (and not happy at all about it), but the scents rub off from being at work, the mall, or just with other kids. When you think of all the products you use from the soap to shower with, the shampoo, cream rinse, hair gels or hair sprays, perfume or aftershave (nail polishes are a killer) the list goes on.

By the time you leave the house, you have put on so many chemicals that are difficult for some people to breathe. In general, fragranced products are recognized as respiratory irritants. Fragrances can induce or worsen respiratory problems such as asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and allergies because of their irritant effect.

In a 1986 survey of asthmatics, researchers found that perfume and/or colognes triggered an attack in 72 per cent of the subjects questioned. According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), fragrances are in the same category as second-hand smoke for triggering and exacerbating asthma in school-aged children and adults. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention links on Air Pollution and Respiratory Health, including a link to a book from the IOM on Asthma and Indoor Air Exposures)

Some researchers hypothesize that exposure to fragrance may actually cause occupational asthma The fragrance industry is unregulated and therefore is not legally required to test their products or guarantee their safety (See the FDAs Section on Cosmetics). As a result, more than 80 per cent of the 4,000 chemical ingredients in use in the industry have not been tested to determine if they are toxic. In addition, fragrance manufacturers are not required to list each ingredient contained in the formula on the product labels. As most products containing fragrance are considered "consumer products" they are excluded from (Canada's) Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) and its provisions. This makes it difficult for individuals to pinpoint the specific chemicals that may be problematic to them and to determine their potential health effects.

From the Offices of the Cancer Prevention Coalition
Press Release - June 17, 2002

Cosmetics and Personal Hygiene Products Pose Highest Cancer Risk

To General Public - Higher than Smoking Cigarettes

Cancer and health risk experts just concluded reviews that indicate mainstream cosmetics and personal hygiene products pose the highest cancer risk exposures to the general public, higher than smoking cigarettes. The derivations are not surprising after correlating U. S. Government research reports that the Cancer Prevention Coalition received via the Freedom of Information Act, with assistance from Congressman Wesley Watkins.

The CPC Director pursued obtaining the report after reading a letter from Senator Kennedy to President Clinton concerning the severity of the subject to the public health or the nation.

The letter addressed many known cancer causing and reproductive hazardous chemicals used to make most of our everyday personal hygiene and beauty products. The letter also addressed the need for immediate actions to protect the public, and rescind the "Buyer Beware Approach" used within the government, cosmetic and industrial chemical industry.


Most scientists agree that cancer is initially caused by industrial chemicals, and or radiation exposures. Everyone comes in contact with these chemicals in food, water, air (tobacco smoke), but the biggest risk now appears to be absorption and inhalation of chemicals in hair care products, mouthwash, beauty cosmetics, toothpaste, lotions, skin care products, suntan items, etc.

(More press releases from the Cancer Prevention Coalition.)

I can't tell you how difficult it is to live with this illness. This happened to me about 5 years ago when my immune system became weak from mold that was growing in the walls. Never ignore water leaks; it can be dangerous for your health. That is another story. We didn't even have a leak, the driveway cracked and water was seeping down into the walls of the basement without our knowledge. With all of the water out there from our snow storm, that is my tip.

I developed asthma and reactive airways disease and all of a sudden couldn't stand being near perfumes. I had never heard of this problem, but even when you go to the asthma doctor they have a sign on the wall telling people not to wear fragrances. Well what are we supposed to do out in the world when there are so many fragrances. I have had to isolate myself to be safe and that is not easy.

I have found people all over the world via the internet with this exact problem. That has been a source of comfort. We try to help each other. This problem is recognized by the ADA, and more information is coming out every day but it is a horrible way to live. Why can't they make the products safer. Maybe someday, but I don't know if it will be in my life time. Just be careful.