Monthly Archives: May 2009

Slides from DMCA presentation – and Thanks!

I’ve been meaning to put these up for a while, here are the slides from the presentation I gave to the Chicago Bar Association’s seminar on website operator liability on May 15, 2009. My presentation focused on the DMCA and discussed four recent cases.

I’d also like to thank those who submitted pictures for the recent Blawg Review, those who “sherpa-ed” behind the scenes (Colin Samuels, Diane Levin, Victoria Pynchon) and to Ed. for giving me the opportunity to host on Towel Day. And thanks to all who commented, sent links, or otherwise helped spread the word. You all are hoopy froods who know where your towels are.

Blawg Review #213

(Photo credit to Markbult under a Creative Commons license.)

Welcome to the Towel Day edition of Blawg Review! Towel Day began in 2001 as a tribute to Douglas Adams. Some of you may recall that my Blawg Review #42 was also a tribute to Douglas. The first Towel Day was held on May 25, 2001, two weeks after Douglas’s untimely permanent existence failure on May 11, 2001. Today in the United States it is also Memorial Day, a day in which we remember those soldiers who have died in service to our country. While Memorial Day is always the last Monday in May, it only rarely shares the May 25th date with Towel Day. For prior Memorial Day editions of Blawg Review, check out #’s 8, 59, 110, and 161. Interestingly, if you want to know why VFW chapters often give poppies in return for donations, check out this link. Also, Dan Hull at What About Clients has a nice thoughtful piece about looking back, remembering, and embracing life.

Towel Day is also a memorial, but a geeky one. Douglas Adams was a well-loved author of many fine works, but he’s best known as the author of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, a quirky and funny science fiction comedy classic. Douglas managed to write five novels in the “ever more increasingly misnamed” trilogy before his passing, which first got its start as a radio drama. It later became a successful TV series, and finally a movie in 2005. Douglas had tried for years to get the movie off the ground, but did his death four years earlier keep him from appearing in the movie? No, at one point there is a large statue perfectly shaped like Douglas Adams’ nose, and at several points if you know where to look there are pictures or other references to Douglas.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s lead-in post, savvy hitchhikers always know where their towels are. Why a towel? Because they’re so useful!
As the Guide itself says – “A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-boggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.)”

I asked some hoopy froods who happen to be law bloggers and twitterers to send me pictures of them with their towels. Here’s the first, your intrepid author, with photographic proof of his geek cred:

1 – I’d thought about posing as Arthur Dent, the hapless Earthling from the series who travels the universe in his bathrobe and towel, but Brett Trout of Blawg IT does it better – he’s even got the hair right:

2 – Our next picture is from Colin Samuels, of Infamy or Praise, this year’s Blawg Review of the Year award winner (OK, he’s won every year so far… but only because he’s *EARNED* it), and also quite the hoopy frood himself:

3 – Jonathan Freiden of the E-Commerce Law blog has a nice post this week discussing Craigslist’s suit against the South Carolina Attorney General over his threats to bring criminal charges against Craigslist and its executives.

4 – Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips has a nice reminder about how to leave a proper “out of office” voice mail message. Just in time for Memorial Day!

5 – David Harlow’s Health Care Law Blog looks at the GOP’s health reform plan. David’s also been kind enough to send a picture. I’m advised that the tuft of hair visible above the towel is David, but could also be from one of Zaphod’s heads. You be the judge:

6 – How to make your clients look bad in 3 easy steps.

7 – The Manpower Employment Blawg analyzes the recent “Business Ethics” episode of The Office for employment law issues. Zaphod had quite low ethical standards when he served as President of the Galaxy, so I think the Manpower blog would’ve been quite busy analyzing just one day in his life, especially if it were the day that Zaphod stole the Heart of Gold

8 – The Big Sky Blog looks at the rights of one parent to move within the same state after being divorced. We know these issues would be much different in the Hitchhiker universe, as after all Zaphod and Ford shared three of the same mothers.

9 – The Connecticut Law blog looks at cat bite law and whether a cat will get a free bite (or not.) I imagine that the Ruler of the Galaxy’s cat from Episode 12 of the radio series would get a free bite regardless of its previous disposition.

10 – Cathy Gellis is a cyber lawyer in California who I have come to know online over the years. Here is a post Cathy wrote about her recent experiences at the INTA conference. As she puts it in her bio, “I care very much about information technology and how it affects people’s lives, but I’m concerned that legal policies and precedents are being very foolishly decided that are ultimately detrimental to society.” She also cared to send us a picture!

11 – Marc Randazza took time out from INTA to post about an interesting decision, holding that a domain privacy service can be contributorily liable for the actions of its customers, at least on these facts…

12 – Venkat Balasubramani also took time out from INTA to post about the fleeting nature of Facebook friendships, and how one court has taken judicial notice of that

13 – Moshe Glickman, author of the Circumlocutions blog, shows us one of the best uses for a towel. As a father of three myself, I really like this picture:

14 – Lynne Marek of wrote about how Federal Judges wee grousing about Lawyers’ courtroom attire, especially about some women lawyers. A number of others wrote about this as well, including @Musalaw on Twitter, Above the Law, and Deven Desai. Zaphod Beeblebrox, voted the Worst Dressed Sentient Being in the Known Universe for seven years in a row, need not apply.

15 – Marvin may have a brain the size of a planet, but he’s a little mercurial. Rick Georges considers whether Wolfram Alpha is a reliable, albeit less intelligent, substitute for Marvin or that other paranoid entity, Google. Here’s my post about Wolfram Alpha and what happens when you ask it for “the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.”

16 – Much of Adams’ writing was characterized by absurdity. Had he lived, he might have co-authored the absurd NASCAR substance abuse policy. Gabe Feldman points out that the policy, under which a prominent driver has been indefinitely suspended, does not specify punishments or even a list of banned substances: “First, the policy does not identify the substances that are banned. Any drug—legal or illegal, prescription or over-the-counter—can result in a positive test. Second, the policy does not provide a clear list of penalties for failed tests.”

17 – Hitchhiker’s Guide was adapted, revised, sliced and diced, and rebooted several times to suit the needs of radio, novels, television, and film, as well as the author’s own sensibilities. Adams might be termed the patron saint of today’s remix culture. Ann Bartow highlighted a program on remix culture and Mike Madison discussed the topic in greater depth, considering “best practices” in the fair use claims which underlie remixing.

18 – Victoria Pynchon, of the Settle It Now Negotiation Blog, has sent us her picture, peeking out from behind her towel. Perhaps it is due to the dangers of her profession, as she has written about here.

19 – Lyle Denniston previews the Supreme Court’s pending hearing of a Sarbanes case. Perhaps Sarbanes Oxley is a work of Vogon poetry?

20 – Eric Turkewitz of the New York Personal Injury Law Blog kindly provided a picture of him with his… sarong. He also makes a good case for why a sarong is as functional as a towel is for a galactic hitchhiker. A sarong is:
1. An article of clothing to be whipped out of a daypack and used when modesty says shorts are not appropriate;
2. An emergency bedsheet;
3. A sun shade;
4. A tablecloth
5. A towel.

21 – A recent Note in the Stanford Law Review suggests that legal ethics should prohibit a lawyer representing a party in the Supreme Court from publishing blog posts while the case is under consideration. In this blog post, Beck/Hermann of the Drug and Device Law blog begs to differ — stridently. Eric Turkewitz agrees with them as well.

22 – Brian Cavner of the Family Fairness blog writes about surrogacy agreements for same sex couples.

23 – Ken Adams of Adams Drafting has produced yet another great article, this one about “The Meaning of Draft.”

24 – It’s not the Heart of Gold, but Doug Cornelius is understandably bothered about someone lifting his blog’s content for their own purposes and he engages in a bit of self-help.

25 – Our previous Blawg Review host, Tamera Bennett, is a co-host with Gordon Firemark on the Entertainment Law Update podcast. Gordon was also a good sport, here’s a great picture with his towel:

26 – Was the theft of the Heart of Gold an act of piracy? It’s not infinitely improbable that some might suggest it was. Peter Leeson discusses the “private law” developed by Somali pirates.

27 – A few legal academics might suggest that the Supreme Court’s Iqbal decision indicates a Vogon-like obsession with bureaucratic detail at the expense of the bigger picture. Jon Siegel and Howard Wasserman weigh in, with Siegel desribing the decision as “icky” and Wasserman calling it a “doozy”. Language, gentlemen! Walter Olson, no fan of broad notice pleading, rounds up other takes on the decision.

28 – In Hitchhikers, savvy people carry towels. Steven DeBerry, as interviewed by Steven Hirsch, recommends a pair of jail-issued orange socks.

29 – What’s in a name? I suppose we could ask Tricia McMillan, but the lawyers who successfully defended the Washington Redskins’ name and trademarks against aggrieved Native American plaintiffs might be able to shed some light as well. Kashmir Hill and Elie Mystal report that one first-year associate at the firm hasn’t quite gotten with the program or learned professional tact. He responded in a companywide e-mail to the announcement of the victory and “shat upon” the win, drawing fire from at least one partner. Shortly thereafter, unsurprisingly enough, he was booted from the firm, although the firm claims that the dismissal was for his failure to pass the bar exam and not for his career-limiting e-mail habits. Into what sort of legal economy has he set himself adrift? It doesn’t look promising, as Jordan Furlong explains for the benefit of recent graduates and short-sighted associates.

30 – The anonymous editor in chief of Blawg Review, known affectionately as “Ed.”, kindly sent us his daring yet still anonymous picture. I love his style, as his towel complements his hat and shoes.

31 – Norm Pattis is on a journey to “heaven”, which for him is a Welsh festival devoted to the used and antique book trade. Good for him, but it’s no Magrathea.

32 – Ford Prefect saved Arthur Dent from certain death; Connecticut’s legislators sought to take a page from Prefect’s book and abolish the death penalty in that state this week. Gideon was supportive of the effort, but predicted a quick veto by the governor. He was, of course, absolutely correct, as of this writing she has vowed to veto the bill.

33 – Patrick discussed the misguided defamation claim filed by a conservative Twitterer and “Tea Party” leader against a critic who referred to him as an “insane douchenozzle”. I don’t know of any Douglas Adams connection here, other than to suggest that a man who originally called his character Slartibartfast “Phartiphukborlz” to enrage BBC censors would’ve probably appreciated the word “douchenozzle.”

34 – On Lawyers and Dolphins. Dietmar Tallroth discuss Towel Day, and the lessons we can learn as lawyers from Hitchhikers.

35 – Dave! Gulbransen, my friend who also wrote the excellent, not to be forgotten Blawg Review #122, kindly sent us his picture with his towel. Note what’s on the screen of his Kindle 2:

36 – Lars Kurth discusses Towel Day, which is also the Universal Day of the Jedi. No hokey religions or blasters here, today we prefer babel fish in our ears.

37 – SportsBiz discusses an interesting idea – might a team get sued if they play second or third string players in a “meaningless” game? Three clubs who from their point of view dispute that the game is meaningless have threatened to do just that.

38 – “Is 500 serious crimes worth the freedom of 50,000 offenders?” Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice asks whether that is a fair trade.

39 – Ron Coleman at Likelihood of Confusion discusses the Woody Allen billboard case and its recent settlement for $5 million. So, how much are these Towel Pictures going to be worth on a billboard? 🙂

40 – So, what do you do when a cop sends you a cease and desist? “Drop the photo, or I’ll shoot.

40 – Diane Levin, of the Mediation Channel blog, was kind enough to send us her picture. It’s meant to symbolize the discretion of mediation confidentiality:

41 – So, when someone posts a good idea on Twitter, how fast can it be implemented? Well, when the good idea is a site as a resource for laid off attorneys, and the idea floats past Gwynne Monahan, the answer is very quickly. Gwynne and Victoria Pynchon created Lawyer Connection on the Ning social networking site. I joined, as I am always interested in helping out fellow lawyers when I can. I urge you all to consider joining as well.

42 – Charon QC is next week’s host, and he actually can claim to have met Douglas Adams. Charon knew Douglas’s wife Jane Belsen, a lawyer, quite well before she married Douglas. And, while they met briefly, he reports that Douglas was charming, amusing and interesting. Here’s Charon QC’s towel picture:

Well, that’s 42!

Blawg Review has information about next week’s host, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.

Thanks for reading! So long, and thanks for all the fish!

T-2 Days to Towel Day Edition of Blawg Review – the Multimedia nature of Hitchhikers

We’re coming down the home stretch folks, just two more days to the Towel Day edition of Blawg Review. There’s still a small bit of time, law bloggers and twitterers, to send me your pictures with your towels. Send them to, and I’ll do my best to include them in the review with a… Continue Reading

Blawg Review #213 pre-announcement

I’ll be hosting Blawg Review #213 one week from today, on May 25, 2009. I’m preannouncing the theme because I need your help. Yes, you there! My first Blawg Review #42 was in honor of Douglas Adams, one of my favorite authors who suffered a permanent existence failure in 2001. May 25th has been designated… Continue Reading