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Dec
15
 

Today we had the last webinar of the year it went pretty well and covered a lot of ground in some of the ways to start using a dashboard and had a lot of great questions from chat, if you missed it earlier be sure to check it out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bl1SvNO2x5o&feature=youtu.be

 

Presenters

 

Laura Quin - Idealware

Peter - Campbell LSC

Brian Rowe - NTAP Coordinator

 

Pie Charts

https://t.co/UBtRgJCBLF

 

Slides and Survey

http://www.slideshare.net/LSNTAP/dashboards-for-legal-aid

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/7LQPD22

 

Dec
2
 

Earlier this week on the lstech mailing list  Gabriel Teninbaum pitched the idea of putting together a website that that would curate a comprehensive list of the best free resources on various legal tech topics. This project hs been picking up a little traction 

Currently we are using a Google Doc to to assemble things if there are any resources you like please head over there and share them, it doesn't require registerating or downloading anything. 

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1dT0Du3cQqEaVFQvd2IyH-AhBiQEFciu2ylD48OgMvoo/edit

 

 

Nov
25
 

Social Media 2015

 

Earlier this month we polled members of our LSNTAP mailing list to see what new things people doing with social media. Setting up a social media account takes a significant amount of time and effort, and to do it on top of all our other work is impressive so I would like to recognize everyone who has done so. In addition to recognizing all the work done I’ll be giving a few thoughts on the work people have done, if you want to get a bit more in depth on the subject check out our blog post We Like It.

 

Twitter

Pine Tree Legal Assistance

New York Lawyers for the Public Interest

Georgia Legal Services Program

Self-Representation Litigation Network

Legal Services of New Jersey

New Mexico Legal Aid

Texas Access to Justice Foundation

 

I am impressed with these twitter accounts. They all have functional layouts and actively posting and reposting content. I’d especially like to highlight Pine Tree for participating in the #GivingThanks campaign.

 

YouTube

Pine Tree Legal Assistance

Southeast Louisiana Legal Services Videos

New York Lawyers for the Public Interest

Self-Representation Litigation Network

Equip for Equality

Legal Services of New Jersey

Texas Law Help

 

Here we can use a little more work. It’s understandable that it’s much easier to shoot out a tweet than record, edit, and upload a video but to utilize YouTube as a social media platform and not just a repository for videos you need to be uploading videos somewhat regularly. Legal Services of New Jersey has done a good job of having a steady stream of posting. In addition I’d also like to point out their thumbnail choice, They either are using good headshots of the subject or something that clearly explains what the video is.

 

Two easy little tips to make sure you are paying attention to, make sure you have a custom URL and make sure comments are enabled on your videos. The URL is a little thing but it is an easy way to make your channel a little more attractive and easier to find. Open comments are to allow there to be the possibility of some interaction between people, the social part of social media. Comments should only be turned off for videos where the comments get so out of control normal moderation isn’t enough, given we have a hard time getting anyone to comment at all that isn’t an issue.

 

Facebook

Pine Tree Legal Assistance

New York Lawyers for the Public Interest

New Mexico Legal Aid

Philadelphia Legal Assistance

Georgia Legal Services Program

Legal Services of New Jersey

Texas Access to Justice Foundation

 

These Facebook pages are all pretty good, frequent updates and lots of pictures. New Mexico Legal Aid deserves special mention because not only do they have a map and phone number available they also their hours of operation.

 

Instagram

Georgia Legal Services Program

 

Instagram is a bit like Twitter where it takes some time to get things started. Right now most of the content is only a week old, hopefully it will get some traction with some more time to post and participate in the instagram community.

 

LinkedIn

New York Lawyers for the Public Interest

 

It’s interesting to see LinkedIn getting used like Facebook, there isn’t a lot of data on how valuable a LinkedIn audience is so I’m interested in learning more about what they have gotten out of it.

 

 

Nov
16
 

Seattle University School of Law hosted the Social Justice Hackathon on November 6th and 7th with the goal of bringing together the legal and tech communities to create solutions to meet the legal needs of low income families. I was only able to attend Friday’s portion of the event, so this post will reflect my experiences from that day.

In my internship at Northwest Justice Project, I had performed some work for the Washington Indian Arts & Crafts Project. During a meeting with the board, the project discussed its need for a website in order to better support and reach out to the community. We arranged to meet at the Hackathon where I would assist in organizing a team with the goal of developing the Washington Indian Arts & Crafts Project website.

The Washington Indian Arts & Crafts Project promotes economic justice by protecting the authenticity of Native American arts and crafts in Washington through education, outreach, and active promotion of artists and the Federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act. The industry itself is huge, worth roughly one billion dollars annually. For many Native American artists, this is their sole way of making a living. When non-natives compete by selling look-alikes as “authentic,” it infringes on the livelihood of Native Americans nationwide.

WAIAC Logo

Several states have similar organizations that enforce Arts & Crafts laws while using a form of trademark called a “collective mark” to authenticate goods. Artists register with the organization in order to use the mark. After the artist is verified as a tribe member, he or she displays the collective mark on his or her goods to indicate authenticity.

If you are interested in learning more about the Washington Indian Arts and Crafts Project (WAIACP), you can visit the new website that was created at the Hackathon by clicking here. They also have a Twitter and Facebook account.

I arrived Friday evening, checked in at a table on the bottom level, and obtained a red and white nametag with the title “Legal Hacker.” Several nametags were organized on the table of varying colors to identify which area of expertise you were. There was a very diverse crowd filled with members of the legal community, law school faculty, law students, tech persons, and more.

While I waited for WAIACP’s representative, a coordinator came over to greet me. Miguel Willis, a second-year law student at Seattle U who organized the event, came over and noted I wore a “Legal Hacker” nametag. He then asked if I was pitching that evening. I had never attended a Hackathon before the weekend, so I had not thought of anything to pitch and planned only to assist WAIACP organize a team, and then observe for the remainder of the event. Miguel checked in with me again later and encouraged me to pitch, which lead me to start piecing ideas together in my head – but I decided not to form a pitch. Perhaps next year.

After opening remarks by Hon. Donald J. Horowitz, pitches were given open-mic style. For a pitch, you or your organization would explain a problem and then propose a solution. Many of the pitches were oriented to more technical legal issues, such as an app for recording housing payments and documents that could be used as evidence in eviction proceedings, an overnight “ninja” record expunging service, and several others. Mariana from the WAIACP was a concerned that our pitch was not entirely a legal issue – however, I reassured her that protecting and enforcing authentic Native American art through the law was extremely relevant, and that a website was a sound solution. The internet is so commonplace these days that it is a reasonable solution to reach out to artists and consumers in order to promote the mission and afford the protection the organization offers.

After pitches, we were instructed to intermingle and form teams. This was most likely the hardest part of the evening. What we thought would be a simple task turned out to be a bit more difficult.

I had not familiarized myself with what each nametag color meant. Although I had dabbled in web design when I was younger, I was not sure what we needed for our team. Additionally, there seemed to be a plethora of software and mobile developers and a lack of website developers. After asking around, we received mixed answers. Some said the yellow nametags were our best bet, but not the purple ones. Others said that purple were our best bet, but not really the yellow ones. Some of the participants had the skills to develop our website, but ultimately turned us down because they did not believe our project would win, and they were in it to win it. Luckily, we found two amazing tech savvy intellectuals to join the team.

First was Kristina. After describing some of the features of the website, she stated she would be able to help but would not be able to construct the entirety of the website alone as website development was not her specialty. Even though we struggled to find additional team members, she patiently waited and stuck by our side.

Then, we met Chuck. After hearing our pitch, what the organization’s goals were, and what we needed, Chuck helped aim us in the right direction of whom we needed to find. Unfortunately, Chuck’s expertise was primarily backend development, and he said he might not be the best fit for the team. After thanking him for his time and saying goodbye, he came back just a few minutes later. Chuck said he liked our project so much that he wanted to help out, and although website development was not his specialty, our combined efforts could make it happen.

Chuck and Marina presenting WAIACProject.com

We were hoping to find a graphic designer as our final team member, but we were unable to find a free person. That did not stop us though. After we decided to begin with the team we had organized, Miguel, the event organizer, lead us to one of the classrooms to share space with another team where development would begin. Shortly after hashing out on the whiteboard website goals, I exchanged contact information with the team and bid them farewell.

I would love to have attended the entire weekend, but my Saturday was taken over by the MPRE and other obligations. Nevertheless, it was an exciting evening, and I am glad to see that everything worked out well for the WAIACP. The only thing I can say could use improvement would be how teams are formed. Time is of the essence in these projects, and it can be disheartening to a team to feel that they may not be given the opportunity to achieve or even attempt their solution. I look forward to attending next time!

If you would like to read the highlights about day two of the Hackathon (including a list of the projects presented), Ket Ng has made a blog post on day 2 available on his blog here.

Nov
13
 

Hey everyone!

This year, we’ve seen some interesting and exciting opinions come out involving authorship, moral rights, fair use, parody, and public domain. With the end of the year just around the corner, here’s a look at some of these issues from five contemporary copyright cases:

 

Naruto the Monkey’s Selfie (PETA, et al. v. Slater, et al.

This pending case originated when Wikipedia refused defendant Slater’s request to take down images of Naruto, a male Sulawesi crested macaque (left). 

PETA initiated a lawsuit on behalf of the crested macaque, which allegedly took a “selfie” using defendant’s camera. The photographs were widely distributed and monetizes. PETA is claiming rights should extend to Naruto. 

The case is still pending an outcome as of yet; however, last year, the US Copyright Office issued an updated compendium indicating that non-humans (i.e. animals, random or automatic machines) cannot have authorship status because authorship status requires creative input or intervention from a human. Although the US Copyright Office’s compendium is not binding, any cases seeking to extend copyright to non-humans will most likely not prevail.

The minimum human intervention required for authorship is not intensive. Essentially, if you direct or control in any way when, how, or what is created, you have authorship. For example, you establish authorship when you set up a security camera and it inadvertently streams your dog dancing while you’re at work, even if the camera was set to only stream when it detects motion. However, if you were to create a robot and for some reason completely on its own unrelated to its programming it managed to use a camera to take photographs of random things, those photographs would not be copyright eligible due to the lack of human authorship.

Works that contain no original authorship are ineligible for copyright and therefore in the public domain. Wikipedia is a good source to find images that are public domain. You can click on images in Wikipedia to get information about the copyright status of the image like Naruto’s selfie.

(Guardian News Article - "Peta sues to give copyright for 'monkey selfies' to macaque who snapped them" Sept. 22, 2015)

 

Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’” (Fahmy v. Jay-z, et al.)

Fahmy, heir of the famous Baligh Hamdi, brought suit against Jay-Z for use of the Hamdi’s Khosara. Jay-Z rapped over Khosara in his song Big Pimpin’. Hamdi’s song was licensed through chain of title for use by Jay-Z and his label. The original agreement transferred rights of Khosara under Egyptian copyright law. In order to have standing to bring the suit, Fahmy had to show he still retained some rights.

In determining foreign law, courts may consider any relevant information including testimony and come to a ruling as a question of law. Egyptian copyright law grants inalienable moral rights to originators of copyrightable works; however, moral rights are not enforceable in U.S. courts. Fahmy also argued that Egyptian law required disclosure of every right disclosed and that rights could not just be stated as transferred in whole. The court rejected this argument on the basis that Egyptian copyright law does not include a comprehensive list of rights in copyright, and agreements listing every single right to be transferred in this situation would infer a narrow scope of rights being transferred.

Ultimately, it was held that because the U.S. courts do not recognize moral rights and that the plaintiff transferred all non-moral rights in Khosara, the plaintiff lacked standing to bring suit.

Copyright in the United States are economic rights; however, the United States does have limited moral rights that extend to authors for works of visual art consisting of the right to claim authorship, disclaim authorship, and protect visual artwork from unnatural or unnecessary mutilation.

There’s more to using a work than just copyright. If someone is morally opposed to how his or her work is being used, there are ethical reasons not to use it, especially for nonprofit organizations. If an author of a work finds use of the work offensive, the organization should consider finding an alternative as use of the work may negatively impact the organization’s reputation, especially nonprofit organizations, even if the use of the work is legal.

(Read the civil minutes from the court in Fahmy v. Jay-Z)

 

Let’s Go Crazy YouTube Dancing Baby (Lenz v. Universal Music)

Lenz uploaded a 29 second video on YouTube of her baby dancing to the song “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince playing in the background. Universal sent a cease-and-desist letter, and YouTube took the video down. Lenz responded to YouTube claiming fair use, which required Universal to respond within six weeks. After no response, YouTube reinstated the video. Lenz filed suit against Universal.

In the suit, the judge ruled that copyright owners must consider whether their content has been used within the parameters of fair use before issuing a takedown notice. Copyright owners face liability if they knowingly misrepresent good faith belief that content was not fair use in their takedown notification. Merely paying lip service to the consideration of good faith belief is insufficient. Algorithms used to identically match content for review is allowed, but any review of good faith use a computer cannot perform must be done by a person. Copyright owners must establish an actual good faith belief that something is not fair use before issuing a takedown notice.

For example, imagine you run a blog exposing bad lending practices by a bank. Part of your blog displays public forms used by the bank. If what you have used falls under fair use, the bank wouldn’t be allowed to send you a takedown notice claiming copyright merely as a censorship tactic. Because fair use must be considered, transformative or critical works may have a strong case against takedown notices, especially when a takedown notice is being used as a form of censorship. Don’t let copyright be censorship. Reach out to copyright counsel regarding leaving material up for fair use, as there may be options available to you to keep transformative or critical works up.

(Read the court's opinion in Lenz v. Universal)

 

Point Break Parody  (Keeling v. Hars)

Keeling created a parody of the 1991 film Point Break that lead to the question: can an unauthorized work that makes “fair use” of its source receive copyright protection?

Keeling’s play Point Break Live! added props, jokes, staging, and other aspects to transform the work into a parody. The suit arose when the production company that was performing the work began doing its own version of the play and stopped paying Keeling, claiming that she had no right to her script because it was based on the film. Copyright protection may extend to a work that exhibits sufficient minimal degree of originality in selecting, coordinating, and arranging otherwise un-protectable underlying elements. The Copyright Act grants independent copyright protection to derivative works separate from any preexisting copyright in the work used unlawfully. Nothing in the statute prohibits extension of copyright when the material is used lawfully, such as through fair use.

In determining fair use, a jury may consider any of the following: the purpose and character of the use (which is the heart of the inquiry for parodies), the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and the effect of the use on the potential market.

The jury’s finding of fair use was upheld, meaning Keeling could protect her original underlying contributions of arranging Point Blank in a way with new meaning as parody.

Fair use allows the unauthorized use of copyright protected works, and as long as the creator of an unauthorized derivative work stays within the bounds of fair use and adds sufficient originality, the creator may claim copyright protection and sue for infringement on the original contributions he or she added to the work.

(Read the court's opinion in Keeling v. Hars)

 

Happy Birthday Song (Rupa Marya, et al. v. Warner, et al.

For years, Warner has collected millions in licensing fees associated with the use of the Happy Birthday song. Warner was the alleged successor-in-interest to Summy Co., which allegedly held rights to the song after agreements were made with the original creators, the Hills sisters.

The court held that the copyright claim filed by Summy Co. in 1935 granted rights only in the melody, but not the song’s lyrics. The melody had already entered public domain in 1949. Ownership of the lyrics was not determined outside of the determination that Warner had no rights in the lyrics. Works that are in the public domain, like the Happy Birthday melody, can be used by anyone. Anything before 1923 is generally safe. A few resources that can be used to find works in the public domain are Totally Free ImagesPublic Domain PicturesCreative Commons and Appropedia’s Public Domain Search. Cornell also has a comprehensive Copyright Term and the Public Domain chart available.

(Read the court's opinion in Marya v. Warner)

 

Author’s Note

Additionally, it’s important to know who has ownership and how that ownership affects copyright protection when others are involved when creating any work.

Joint works are works prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole. The term of the copyright consists of the life of the last surviving author. Each joint author owns an undivided interest in the copyright for the work as a whole.

Employers – not employees – are considered the legal author if a work is “made for hire” and not independently contracted. The case CCNV v. Reid gave us something called “the Reid factors” for determining what qualifies as “work for hire.” The factors are weighed by factual significance, and not all factors are required in the determination. The factors are: (1) the skill required; (2) the source of the instrumentalities and tools; (3) the location of the work; (4) the duration of the relationship between parties; (5) whether the hiring party has the right to assign additional projects to the hired party; (6) the extent of the hired party’s discretion over when and how long to work; (7) the method of payment; (8) the hired party’s role in hiring and paying assistants; (9) whether the work is part of the regular business of the hiring party; (10) whether the hiring party is in business; (11) the provision of employee benefits; and (12) the tax treatment of the hired party.

Copyright protection for a “work for hire” (or "corporate works") that secure federal statutory protection for the first time after 1978 receive copyright protection until 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever comes first. This is how Mickey Mouse (Steamboat Willie) has most recently evaded entering Public Domain. The U.S. Copyright Office has a guide to the duration of corporate work protection.

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