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2014-2015 JBIPL Editors Discuss Positions

Development Editor

Caitlin Hale

1. What are the pertinent qualifications? Familiarity with the blog; ability to edit short articles for grammar and content on a weekly basis; ability to brainstorm topics for blogs; ability to use WordPress (very easy to learn).

2. Why did you apply for this position? I was on the blog as a 2L and really enjoyed having the opportunity to write short articles about topics that were interesting to me. I wanted to be involved with the Journal but not in a position that was extremely time-consuming.  Continue reading »

Princess Property: A Consideration of Copyright Laws and the Alteration of Disney Princesses

800px-Disneyland_2012-02-14_Princess_and_Princesses_b

By: Katie Ott* | Staff Writer

Imagine: the Disney princesses, childhood heroes for many young American girls, featured topless with skin and scars for all viewers to see. Viewers of the art have described the images as “disgusting,” “terrifying,” and “propaganda.” But these critics miss the essential point: the princesses’ scars support breast cancer survivors with similar scars from the mastectomy procedure used to treat the deadly disease. The artist, AleXsandro Palombo, explains the paintings honor a woman’s pain connected to “the acceptance of [a woman’s] body mutilated by a mastectomy [which] is one of the devastating moments that is part of the disease.” Continue reading »

Court Approves MacBook Cord Settlement After Slashing Attorneys’ Fees

apple

By: John Hodnette* | Staff Writer

As is often the case in a settlement, there is no great noise accompanying the final approval of the settlement with Apple, Inc. by the large class of plaintiffs who claimed that Apple’s Magsafe power adapters were faulty.  This lawsuit was first filed in 2009 and alleged that the Magsafe power adapters were prone to fraying at the ends.  This fraying tendency created a possible fire hazard and so the plaintiffs claim that Apple was negligent in their design.  In November 2011, Apple agreed to a settlement offer by the lawyers of the class action, and agreed to pay consumers up to the price of a new adapter each, depending on how long ago the consumer bought the adapter.  Consumers were contacted and filed their information to receive the settlement using a website specifically created for this purpose: adapterssettlement.com.  Apple was explicit on this website, in saying under the frequently asked questions section that “Apple denies all allegations and has asserted many defenses. The settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing.”  Continue reading »

Spotify: Just “Shake It Off”

 

Spotify_logo_vertical_blackBy: Katie Ott* | Staff Writer

The recorded music industry, affluent throughout the 90s, has dropped dramatically in value the past 16 years, now pricing at only half its 1999 peak of $40 billion.  David Pakman, a cofounder of the Apple Music Group and CEO of eMusic, largely attributes the industry’s decline to the advent of streaming websites such as Spotify and Deezer.

Largely, music artists have responded to the new streaming medium through allowing streaming sites access to their music; the sites then compensate the artists roughly $.006 per song play.  This measly reimbursement has frustrated artists. Taylor Swift, one of the most powerful voices in the music industry, explains her frustrations: “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable.  Valuable things should be paid for.  It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is.  I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.”  To prove her point, Swift pulled her music from Spotify, joining the small group of artists boycotting the streaming process.  Their decision, criticized as both unreasonable and inadequate, marks the only artist kickback to seriously rifle the music streaming industries. Continue reading »

Digital Life After Death

By: Alec Roberson* | Staff Writer

In an age of social media and instant communication via emails, most people may not consider what will happen to their online accounts after death. Currently, there are roughly 30 million Facebook accounts still active that belong to people who are deceased. Likewise, it is estimated the about 1.5 million Facebook users and close to the same amount of Twitter users die each year. The question that lingers is what actually happens to these digital assets when you die and how can you transfer them properly to preserve your digital legacy?

The reason this is such an interesting question is because each state has their own set of laws governing the transfer of these types of assets and each email/social media provider likewise has their own set of proscribed rules governing access on death. This issue came to a head in 2005 when John Ellsworth wanted access to his deceased son, Justin Ellsworth’s, Yahoo! email account in order to recover emails and photos sent and received during his son’s military duty in Iraq. Yahoo!’s terms state that a user’s email account and all of its contents terminate at death with no right of survivorship or right of transferability. John was able to receive his son’s email contents only after a probate court in Michigan made the order.

Different providers have different terms though. Google allows you to designate who can access your account (including Google Plus, Gmail, etc.) or whether you want your data deleted after three, six, or twelve months after death. Facebook does not give access to anyone but allows family members to contact Facebook so that the deceased’s account can be memorialized, meaning no one can login, add or delete friends, and that person will not be suggested to other people to add as a friend nor will their birthday show up as a notification to others. Twitter allows the deceased’s family to request for the account to be deactivated as long as they can show a death certificate and details that show the account belongs to the deceased. In theory, any family member or friend that has the ability to get or knowledge of the deceased’s passwords could log on to those accounts themselves; however, under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act this may violate federal law and the Stored Communications Act may prevent someone from sharing the deceased’s information available on these digital assets. Continue reading »

Rules of Engagement: State Law and the Presumption of the Wedding Ring “Gift”

By Austin J. Griffin* | Staff Writer 

The holiday season approaches and many out there will be leaning in close to their sweethearts, bracing against the chilly winds.  Some will even be pining for a longer sort of “lean in” – an engagement.  However, if the relationship cools, they may want to consider where that engagement ring may go.

As the New York Post reported this past October, a New York judge recently ruled that a woman “who broke up with her boyfriend [could] keep a $10,200 ‘engagement ring’ because her paramour didn’t make a marriage proposal when he [gave her the ring].”  All the man said was that “it was a gift for being a great woman, a good mother of his child.”  No wedding was expected for the confused couple at the time – the woman herself unclear whether she was engaged.  All the ex-boyfriend had to do, however, was propose so that the gift became one “given in contemplation of marriage” and therefore returnable.

The judge’s New York ruling provides questions that may reach many unhappy couples.  What, legally, is an engagement ring?  What does the law say about keeping the ring after a broken engagement?  In order to prevent such a costly mistake, this article will attempt to give a brief overview of the law pertaining to “gifts in contemplation of marriage” generally, the law in North Carolina, and how a North Carolina court might rule on this case.  To start, we’ll consider the idea of the gift itself.

What’s a Gift, Anyway?

The law of gifts is divided into two distinct paths, depending on the state of the donor or person giving the gift.  These two paths are inter vivos and causa mortis. Now, gifts causa mortis only apply when the donor is near to death, so they can be ignored here.  Because the donor tends to be alive when proposing marriage, an engagement ring is an inter vivos gift. According to Harvard fellow Ruth Sarah Lee, under common law, the elements of a valid inter vivos gift are:

“(1) an intention to give and surrender title to and dominion over the property (i.e. donative intent), (2) delivery of the property to the done, and (3) acceptance by the donee [gift receiver].”

Normally, this is not an issue with engagement rings given in contemplation of marriage because the donor has every intention to give the property to the donee, and the donee accepts it, understanding that an engagement has occurred.  However, the engagement ring is not your average gift.    Continue reading »

How Can “How” Be Trademarked?

By: Alec Roberson* | Staff Writer

Credit: ibtimes.com

Credit: ibtimes.com

Having trademark protection over certain words or phrases is perfectly adequate and sometimes even necessary for the preservation and profitability of a business.  However, where is the line drawn over what words or phrases should or shouldn’t be protected? According to bestselling author Dov Seidman, the simple, common word “how” is included in this protection.

Seidman is the founder and CEO of the company LRN, a business that helps companies create ethical cultures, and is the bestselling author of the book HOW: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything.  Earlier this year (2014), Seidman brought suit against the Greek yogurt company Chobani and advertising firm Droga5 for Chobani’s use of the word “how” in their marketing campaign stating, “How Matters” (which Chobani has a trademark on) to push that their yogurt is 100% natural.  Seidman claims that Chobani’s use of the word “how” was to convey that they are an ethical company and this is the same way LRN has used the word in its business.  This suit is premised on the assertion that the meaning of “how” was trademark protected and not the word “how” itself.  Chobani responded by denying they had knowledge of Seidman or of the trademark protection, and by asking the court to deny LRN’s trademark protection over “how”.

Almost any phrase, word, logo or symbol can be registered for trademark protection under the Lanham Act as long as two requirements are met: it’s used in commerce and it is distinctive.  Seidman’s use of “how” is clearly used in commerce.  The second requirement, trademark distinctiveness, is usually divided into four categories: arbitrary/fanciful, suggestive, descriptive, and generic.  A descriptive category is only protected if it has a secondary meaning known to the public that refers to the specific product or service, while a generic category is never protected because it refers to common terms that do not refer to any particular source. Continue reading »

Part Three: An Original Proposal for Stopping Corporate Inversions

New York Stock Exchange

New York Stock Exchange

 

By: John Sanders* | Staff Writer

Politicians, business leaders, and legal professionals have spent a great deal of time this year talking about corporate inversions.  As stated in the two previous posts in this three-post series, an inversion is a business transaction, usually a merger or acquisition, between a U.S. corporation and a foreign corporation with the objective of establishing the headquarters of the new combined corporation in the foreign nation to take advantage of a better corporate tax rate.

Opposition to corporate inversions has been increasing for several months.  However, it hit a fever pitch when American corporate icon Burger King announced plans to merge with Canada’s Tim Horton’s in order to take advantage of Canada’s lower tax rates.  This transaction was tangible to the average American in a way that few inversions can be.  Anyone with an idea for how to stop inversions was suddenly able to command the newspaper headlines and the lead segments of cable news shows.

As stated in previous posts, interested parties began rallying support around three very different proposals.  The three proposals, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive, are changing the U.S. corporate tax code, using the bully pulpit to pressure corporations into staying home, and using existing provisions in the tax code to punish and deter inversions. Continue reading »

Will NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell be Flagged for Mishandling the Ray Rice Scandal?

Commissioner Goodell.

Commissioner Goodell.

By: Jaime C. Garcia* | Staff Writer

Ray Rice, the former Baltimore Running Back, has appealed his indefinite suspension from the NFL. This move could affect the future of not only Rice’s career, but potentially, the future of the NFL. Recently, an arbiter in the appeal ruled that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should testify at the appeal hearing. This testimony could have an effect, not only on Rice’s appeal, but also, potentially, on Goodell’s future. Continue reading »

Who’s Really Prescribing Your Medicine? It May Not be Your Physician.

By: Jaime C. Garcia* | Staff Writer

Patients aren’t the only ones paying a premium to doctors and other healthcare providers. In the last five months of 2013, drug and medical device companies paid at least $3.5 Billion to U.S. physicians and teaching hospitals. In addition to raising a few eyebrows, the large sums of money these companies are paying out have raised several questions about the conflicts of interests these payments create.

Public information on payments made to doctors and teaching hospitals has only recently been made available thanks to the “Sunshine Provisions” of the Affordable Care Act, which went into effect August, 2013. The purpose of the enacted regulations is to drive down healthcare costs by making the public aware of potential conflicts of interest. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) breaks down the data into three types: 1) Research; 2) Ownership; 3) General (non-ownership, non-research). Of these three categories, research and general payments have drawn the most scrutiny and criticism. Continue reading »