Jonathan Wilson is an
Atlanta attorney with more than 19 years of experience guiding growing private and public companies. He currently serves
as the outside general counsel of several companies and is the former general counsel of Web.com.com (NASDAQ: WWWW) and EasyLink
Services (NASDAQ: ESIC). He is also the founding chair of the Renewable Energy Committee of the American Bar Association's
Public Utility Section.
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Biden Pronounces Obama "Clean"
2:18 pm est
Senator Joseph Biden's presidential campaign can be timed with an egg timer at
In an interview, Biden described fellow Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama as "the first mainstream
African-American who is articulate and bright and clean . . . "
If Biden were a Republican his office would already be
surrounded by an army of protesters, but even as a Democrat he is unlikely to escape howls of indignation.
Biden's apologists are already claiming that he was quoted out of context or, alternatively,
suggesting that if the comma were placed after "African-American" the entire sentence would change its meaning.
Who knows where this will lead, but it doesn't bode well for Biden's chances.
More States Enact Data Breach Notification Laws
7:18 am est
Seven additional states have now adopted data breach notification laws. (Background memo
from Seyfarth Shaw, LLP) This brings the number of states adopting these measures to well more than a majority of the
nation. (Past coverage
Monday, January 29, 2007
Turning a Blind Eye to Sandy Berger's Crimes
8:07 am est
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Fourth Circuit Holds Maryland's "Wal-Mart" Law was Pre-empted
8:00 am est
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, has upheld the trial court's ruling that Maryland's "Wal-Mart
law" was pre-empted by federal ERISA regulations. (Seyfarth Shaw briefing paper
The law, which was ostensibly neutral but, in effect, applied only to Wal-Mart, was passed by the Maryland legislature
and required employers with more than a certain number of employees in that state to provide health insurance. (Past coverage
Monday, January 22, 2007
Overselling Global Warming
12:25 pm est
on the problem of explaining the concept of uncertainty to the public.
Miscellaneous IT-Related Legal News for January 2007
8:14 am est
This month's newsletter contains a number of items of interest.
Federal Judge Enjoins Hypertext Links
A federal judge in Texas has issued an injunction
preventing a website operator from hypertext linking to the content of another website operator on the basis of copyright
This issue was addressed several times in the late 1990s and most famously in a case between Ticketmaster and Tickets.com.
In nearly all of those cases the courts ruled that directly hypertext linking did not violate the linked party's copyright
interests because no "copying" actually occurred.
This latest decision may be colored somewhat by peripheral facts involved in the case, as the defendant represented himself
pro se and accused the plaintiff in court filings of acting like "Genghis Khan." Perhaps a better-heeled defendant would
have obtained a more balanced result.
DOD Bars HTML Email
Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison was a rising star among high tech law firms in the late 1990s. It dissolved in
2003 after the tech bubble burst.
As Vincent Polley notes, however, it is not clear how the proponents of this project are handling the myriad attorney/client
privilege issues they must be encountering when publishing this attorney work product.
U.K. Email Law Mandates Disclosures in Footer
This is yet another compliance headache for cross-border enterprises who may need to comply with the U.K. law as
well as the U.S. CAN-SPAM Act and the increasing numbers of e-mail regulations in other countries.
Seventh Circuit Expands FISA Powers
The Seventh Circuit has ruled
that information obtained through a FISA wiretap may be used in a criminal prosecution so that as the crimes prosecuted are
unrelated to the original purpose of the wiretap.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act empowers the F.B.I. to obtain wiretaps through a specialized federal court
for the purpose of obtaining information from persons inside the U.S. believed to be acting as the agents of foreign powers.
FISA wiretaps are only supposed to be used for counter-intelligence and counter-espionage purposes, however, and not
for domestic law enforcement.
The Seventh Circuit's ruling would seem to clear the way for federal prosecutors to use information obtained under FISA
wiretaps so long as discovery of the crime was not the purpose of the wiretap to begin with.
The complete MIRLIN (Miscellaneous IT Related Legal News) newsletter is available here
Friday, January 19, 2007
What is the State of the Union?
9:08 am est
The big thing I'd like to hear the president say this year? There are areas toward which he can point with
pride, most especially the still not fully recognized triumph of the U.S. economy, a jobs-making, wealth-making dynamo. That
it is so strong, so high, five years after 9/11 is amazing, and moving, too: A lot of individual toil went into that. How
did it happen, what cultural implications does it hold, what are we doing wrong, what will strengthen growth, what will undermine
it? Serious and textured thoughts are, here, overdue.
But there is no denying that Iraq is, still, subject No. 1. In connection with that, I wish the president would take
time to acknowledge and think aloud about the bitterness that has come to surround the entire postinvasion American polity.
The feeling of mutual sympathy that swept America's political class in the days after 9/11 has dissipated, if not disappeared.
And this is true not only in government but in newspapers, on the Internet, in the culture.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Music Industry Threatens ISPs
7:41 am est
In the U.S. Internet Service Providers are relatively safe against suits from copyright owners so long as they follow
the procedure spelled out in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act when responding to complaints regarding their customers'
alleged copyright violations.
Other nations do not have such clear-cut safe harbors, however, and an article
in the U.K.'s Independent describes how the music industry (representing copyright holders) is preparing to litigate with
a number of ISPs over copyright claims springing from the actions of the ISPs' customers.
The GOP's Black Hole
7:34 am est
Robert Novak's column
captures the gloom of many in the GOP.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Activism Among State AGs
7:07 am est
Robert Gaglione and the Federalist Society have produced a new white paper
on activism among state attorneys general.
It concludes that the use of creative tort claims, settlements with ongoing oversight functions and the use of outsourced
trial counsel with contingent fees have created a challenge to federalism in several state AG offices. Regulation through
litigation, as it has come to be known, represents a usurpation of the legislative function by the executive function in these
states and also poses a challenge to federalism to the extent that state AG litigation may sometimes extend into areas where
the federal government has pre-emptive jurisdiction.
Is Everyone Above Average?
6:47 am est
Or, as Charles Murray writes
, are too many people going to college?
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
The Benefits of Globalization
7:56 am est
As global economic freedom increases, not only is wealth growing, but the gap between rich nations and poor ones is decreasing,
according to a new report
described in today's WSJ.
Friday, January 12, 2007
Guiliani and Gingrich Collaborate
7:39 am est
Rudy Guiliani and Newt Gingrich, two of the more iconoclastic Republicans now out of power eyeing a bid for the '08 nomination,
have collaborated on an Op/Ed
in the Wall Street Journal.
Their proposal is a "civilian jobs corp" for Iraq that is modeled after a welfare-to-work program that Guiliani championed
while mayor of New York.
What is interesting about the piece, however, is that these two Republican heavyweights are working together.
Gingrich is best remembered for his 1994 "Contract for America" which was successful for nationalizing that year's Congressional
elections, uniting Republicans under a banner of legislative reform that had resonance in the electorate.
Guiliani, before he became the face of the New York in the days following 9/11, was noted for the way he dramatically
reduced crime in New York by first targeting graffiti. He reasoned that by creating an environment that gave a impression
of lawfulness that would-be lawbreakers would be deterred.
He saw crime as both a cause and an effect of a lawless environment. His critics laughed but he was proven right
when NYC's crime statistics dropped through the floor. At the end of his term, the city that was formerly one of
the most dangerous in America had becime one of its safest.
What unites Guiliani and Gingrich is that they have both had success crafting innovative and novel solutions for long-standing
problems using market-oriented and generally conservative rationales.
Could their collaboration be a model for Republicans seeking to pull themselves out of the mess than was the 2006 midterm
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Wyoming Security Breach Notification Bill
8:07 am est
Legislators in Wyoming have filed a bill
in that state's Senate that would allow consumers to place a "freeze" on their credit reports in certain situations and would
obligate parties that "own or use" certain data pertaining to citizens of Wyoming to give notice of certain actual or potential
breaches of information security.
As I've argued in the past
, this kind of legislation springs from the best of intentions but poses nearly insurmountable practical problems for
the owners and users of consumer data and often for the service providers that support them.
Because nearly all online retailers and website operators have a global footprint, any breach of data security could
affect the website operator's customers around the world. It is simply unrealistic for legislators to expect that a
website operator's response to a potential security breach will include a 50-state review of breach notification laws (plus
all the non-U.S. legal sources) and will result in a compliant notification to all affected persons in as little as "one business
day" (the amount of time contemplated in the Wyoming bill).
Establishing such unrealistic expectations can only spawn useless litigation. An effective solution would create
a single, nationwide standard.
Tuesday, January 9, 2007
White House Counsel
7:52 am est
It's always gratifying when a recruiter calls to offer you a job, so imagine how Fred Fielding
felt when he got the call from White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolton to join President Bush's team for the last two
years of his administration.
As the WSJ recounts
, Fielding is a veteran of the Nixon and Reagan administrations and the law firm that bears his name has been a fixture
in Washington for decades. His recruitment back into the White House should send a message to those who would try to
score points by starting investigations of the administration that the administration is prepared to fight back.
Monday, January 8, 2007
Follow the Money
12:06 pm est
Ted Frank rips into
the trial lawyers' latest attempt to hold legitimate businesses liable for events outside their control -- terrorism:
The trial lawyers have now enlisted themselves in the war against terror. One can imagine a parody—a team of wing-tipped
attorneys parachuting into the wilds of Afghanistan, armed with subpoenas forcing Osama bin Laden to produce all relevant
documents and secure his attendance at a 20-day videotaped deposition (damn the Geneva Conventions against torture). The legal
and photocopying bills alone crush al Qaeda.
The reality is more prosaic, and less amusing. For just as Willie Sutton legendarily said he robbed banks "because that's
where the money is," plaintiffs' attorneys are weaving creative legal theories to hold legitimate third parties liable for
the intentional acts of terrorists. This friendly fire could end up doing almost as much financial damage as the terrorists
themselves, with the lawyers getting rich in the process.
2006 Privacy Year-in-Review
10:56 am est
If you haven't read it already, EPIC's 2006 Privacy Year-in-Review
should be required reading for lawyers and policy makers dealing with electronic privacy issues.
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
9:00 am est
Barack Obama clears the decks for his '08 Presidential run by making sure that his admission of marijuana use
is covered in the mainstream media well before the campaign gets underway.
As the Washington Post reports, Obama described his drug use in a book he wrote more than a decade ago, long before he
ran for any office, so it would be unfair to describe his efforts to air out the issue as cynical.
Phone: 404-353-4833 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonathan B. Wilson is an Atlanta attorney at the law firm of Taylor English Duma LLP. Jonathan B. Wilson
provides legal advice to investors, companies and business executives involving corporate law, securities law, SEC matters,
intellectual property, website and Internet legal issues, start-ups, limited liability companies, partnerships, 1934 Act matters,
outsourcing, strategic alliance agreements, contracts, and other matters of importance to growing private and publicly-traded