Lots to Learn in the Land of the Legal

Technology news comes in many flavors — product debuts, security revelations, acquisition antics, et cetera et cetera — but one of our very favorite is legal wrangling. Today's news is filled with items of interest from the legal side of the tracks, so lets get our wigs on and get rolling.

First up is a follow-up to one of last week's stories. Famed law professor and Open Source guru Lawrence Lessig announced last week that he was considering a bid for Congress, a move that would have brought Creative Commons to Capitol Hill. Sadly, it isn't going to happen, as Lessig has now announced he won't be running, after his advisor's first bit of advice turned out to be "you can't win." Larry says he'll focus on changing Congress from the outside for the time being though his soon-to-be-launched Change Congress coalition.

Moving along, where would the legal news be without litigation, and boy do we have a plenty. Yahoo is up to its ears in lawsuits, with more and more shareholders suing to force the Microsoft takeover, while Network Solutions is facing a new suit over its infamous domain tasting policy. Apple was doing its part as well, shutting down the anti-DRM Hymn Project, which provided users with tools to strip iTunes tracks of their digital straightjackets until Apple turned up with a cease-and-desist order. So much for being the opposite of Big Evil.

On the funnier side of legal-land, a U.S. District Court judge has given a patent-trolling firm a lot to think about, after he denounced their patent trial as a sham, overturned a jury's $51 million verdict, and slapped the company's lawyers with sanctions to the tune of the other side's multi-million dollar legal bill. Not funny enough? The Court of Appeals that upheld his decision is the same one that will hear SCO's appeal of the Utah decisions. In a similar move, a different District Court judge shot holes in the RIAA's reign of terror by ruling that in order to sue over file sharing it has to do more than dig up files on its victim's computers. It remains to be seen if they'll have any luck at actually proving anyone is a file-sharer.

And of course, the center of legal news is the government, the fount from which all laws — both functional and frivolous — flow. The FCC held center stage this week with the announcement that when it comes to net neutrality, they're mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore. The FCC's Chairman — sounding not-unlike a grammar school principal — vowed to "correct" ISP's discriminatory practices towards certain types of internet traffic, while hearing from a dizzying array of experts on the issue, sparked by complaints over Comcast's filtering activities. Among those testifying was Verizon, which stated they didn't have to engage in throttling — an ironically true admission indeed, given the Big V's policy of simply cutting off those who download too much. Comcast, for their part, was busy badmouthing the AP story that busted them, and engaging in a game of semantic roulette, denying they've ever "blocked" BitTorrent traffic.

That's all we've got for you legal eagles, but never fear, as long as there's fear, uncertainty, and doubt in the world, we're sure there'll me plenty more juristic jousting where this came from.

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