What Were They Thinking

Things are Settling Back Down in Yoknapatawpha County

“It was as though she realised for the first time that you – everyone – must, or anyway may have to, pay for your past; the past is something like a promissory note with a trick clause in it which, as long as nothing goes wrong, can be manumitted in an orderly manner, but which fate or luck or chance, can foreclose on you without warning.” Requiem for a Nun, William Faulkner

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For many years the Estate of James Joyce was infamous for its use of copyright law to restrict what many people considered fair uses of  Joyce’s works. Now that most of Joyce’s works are in the public domain, it seems that the owner of William Faulkner’s copyrights, Faulkner Literary Rights LLC (“Faulkner”, is stepping up to take its place. But in the “Midnight in Paris” case you’ve gotta wonder: what the heck was Faulkner thinking?

Even many people who have never read a word of William Faulkner will recognize these famous lines: “the past is never dead.… Read the full article

What Happens When You Get A Federal District Court Judge Really, Really Mad In a Civil Case

I haven’t written a post that falls in the “what were they thinking” category for quite a while, but you don’t see this very often.

In Angiodynamics v. Biolitec AG Massachusetts federal district court judge Michael Ponsor (pictured left) entered a preliminary injunction forbidding the defendant from entering into a merger with its German subsidiary corporation, so as not to put the company’s assets outside the reach of the plaintiff. In addition to corporate defendants, the corporate defendant’s CEO, Wolfgang Neuberger, was named as an individual defendant.

The injunction order was appealed, and the First Circuit upheld the injunction. The defendant then went forward with the merger in direct violation of the court’s order.

When Judge Ponsor received the plaintiff’s motion for contempt he ordered that Mr. Neuberger appear at the hearing on that motion. Neuberger declined to attend on the grounds that he was “afraid that the Court may .… Read the full article

I guess the owners of the Grand Resort Hotel in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee have never heard of the Streisland Effect.  Their attempt to sue Trip Advisor for defamation based on the hotel’s inclusion in Trip Advisor’s annual “Dirtiest Hotels” list was dismissed by the federal district court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.  While facts can be defamatory, opinions can not. The court concluded that no “reasonable person could believe that TripAdvisor’s article reflected anything more than the opinions of TripAdvisor’s millions of online users.”

Professor Eric Goldman discusses this case in more detail here.

Seaton v. TripAdvisor, LLCRead the full article

The Road Goes on Forever, But the Lawsuits Never End: ConnectU, Facebook, Their Entourages

The ConnectU/Facebook legal saga is truly astounding.  Imagine a mature Oak tree.  Now give the it properties of Kudzu vine (the “vine that ate the South”).  Each branch of this tree is another lawsuit involving ConnectU, Facebook, the principals, and their lawyers.

Now, a new branch has burst forth.  Wayne Chang has sued ConnectU and its lawyers in Superior Court Business Litigation Session in Suffolk County, Boston, claiming that Chang is entitled to as much as 50% of the value of the ConnectU/Facebook settlement (so called, since ConnectU has challenged the finality of the settlement).

You can read about the ConnectU/Facebook saga here, or wait until the movie comes out.

Here is the complaint in the Chang case, and apologies to Robert Earl Keen.

Chang v. Winklevoss Complaint Read the full article