Obama Speech on Race Relations and His Vision for "A More Perfect Union"

Rergardless of your political persuasion, we would highly recommend your viewing this video speech by Barack Obama on race relations and his vision of a “A More Perfect Union”.

In our view, it is also important for other nations, not just America, to hear that speech, because it goes to the core of many of the world’s most serious problems, also religious problems, which in our view are – in their foundation – racial problems, pitting various racial groups against each other. Here is the Obama video (or see the video with text below it – faster when read):

The House of Lords at Lords of the Blog are Online Starting Today March 17, 2008

You have to hand it to the highly traditional House of Lords and their new experimental and collaborative (nine) Lords of the Blog, a pilot project being managed by the Hansard Society.

Lords of the Blog went online March 17, 2008, confirming that blogging is no longer an avantgarde avocation but has truly entered the professional mainstream bigtime. It is also quite a kudo to WordPress, whose blog format K2 the Lords are using.

In true English style the Lords do not storm the blogosphere with a frumpy presentation that one might otherwise have expected, but begin their experimental contact to the public with a clean, modern face and a great deal of humour, also facing head-on such topics as “Lords reform”.

This is definitely a very positive addition to the blogging world and to the world in general.

The RSS Feed is http://lordsoftheblog.wordpress.com/feed/

Whatever Happened to the House of Lords? A Supreme Court of the United Kingdom will take up work Starting in October 2009

Time marches on, and there is in fact some visible modernity in law after all, even in a land as rich in tradition and legal glory as the United Kingdom.


Middlesex Guildhall
Future home of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom

The Ministry of Justice of the UK informs us about the essentials:

The introduction of a Supreme Court for the United Kingdom will provide greater clarity in our constitutional arrangements by further separating the judiciary from the legislature. It will assume the jurisdiction of the current Appellate Committee of the House of Lords and the devolution jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

The court will be an independent institution, presided over by independently appointed law lords. It will be housed in the historic Middlesex Guildhall on London’s Parliament Square – opposite the Houses of Parliament and alongside Westminster Abbey and the Treasury – a fitting location for the apex of the justice system. The Guildhall is being renovated for use as a Supreme Court and is due to open at the start of the legal year in October 2009.

A booklet has been produced providing more information about the Supreme Court, including some images of proposed artwork (which has not yet been submitted for planning consent). If you would like to receive a complimentary copy (or copies), or would like any further information about the programme, please contact us.

We quote from the Wikipedia and recommend reading there for more details such as these:

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom was established in law by Part III of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. The Lord Chancellor has announced that it will start work in October 2009 once its new premises are ready. [link added by LawPundit]

It will take over the Law Lords’ judicial functions in the House of Lords and some functions in the Judicial committee of the Privy Council. The Supreme Court will be the final court of appeal in all matters under English law, Welsh law (to the extent that the Welsh Assembly makes laws for Wales that differ from those in England) and Northern Irish law.

It will not have authority over criminal cases in Scotland, where the High Court of Justiciary will remain the supreme court. However, it will hear appeals from the Court of Session, just as the House of Lords does today.

It may hear cases of dispute between the three devolved governments – the Northern Ireland Executive, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Assembly Government – and the UK government, taking over this function from the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.“

The UK Department for Constitutional Affairs provides comprehensive background material concerning this rather remarkable development in the UK judiciary and legal system.

Remarkable is the role played by the doctrine of separation of powers:

The Government’s plans to create the Supreme Court, announced in June 2003, were controversial and were brought forward with little consultation. During 2004, a select committee of the House of Lords scrutinised the arguments for and against setting up a new court.

The main argument in favour of change was that there should be a separation between the House of Lords’ role as a legislature and its role as a court. This, it was claimed, confused people and offended constitutional principles of separation of powers and independence of the judiciary. The main argument against the reforms was that the current arrangements worked well and provided good value for money.

Latvia and Estonia Follow the Czech Republic in Signing Bilateral Visa Exemption Agreements for Travel of their Citizens to the United States

At eurotopics.net we read:

Following the Czech Republic’s example, Latvia and Estonia have now also signed individual agreements with the United States which exempt their citizens from visa requirements for travel to the US. The EU is trying to negotiate a common visa agreement for all member states. What repercussions will these independent initiatives have on Europe’s common foreign and security policy?“.

Graphic linked from euro|topics

Links are found there to full articles from the respective countries:

Latvia – at V-Diena, Aivars Ozoliņš: Divpusēja prioritāte (In Latvian)

Estonia – at Postimees, Erkki Bahovski: kõik enda eest (in Estonian)

In Germany – we refer to Martin Winter at the Sueddeutsche Zeitung (Germany – Süddeutsche Zeitung | Thursday, March 13, 2008, Eastern European bilateral agreements in visa dispute):

“That the Czech Republic, Estonia and Latvia are negotiating bilateral visa-waiver agreements with the US, as is currently the case, is annoying, but no major drama,” Martin Winter writes.

The euro|topics Press Review in English, German and French looks like a good source of European news and we have added it to our blog links.

Harry Potter and the Cyclopians : A New Chapter by J.K. Rowling? The Case of the Century in Copyright and Trademark Law?

At fault for the title of this posting is our manticore.

One of the great intellectual property law cases of our time, a dramatic work with a platinum cast, has been underway for some time now in the trademark and copyright infringement action by Warner Bros. and J.K. Rowling against RDR Books, makers of an allegedly unauthorized Harry Potter Encyclopedia, who we here thus dub the Cyclopians.

Joe Nocera at the New York Times in A Tight Grip Can Choke Creativity wrote on February 9, 2008:

On Friday, a lawyer named Anthony Falzone filed his side’s first big brief in the case of Warner Bros. Entertainment and J. K. Rowling v. RDR Books. Mr. Falzone is employed by Stanford Law School, where he heads up the Fair Use Project, which was founded several years ago by Lawrence Lessig, perhaps the law school’s best-known professor. Mr. Falzone and the other lawyers at the Fair Use Project are siding with the defendant, RDR Books, a small book publisher based in Muskegon, Mich. As you can see from the titans who have brought the suit, RDR Books needs all the legal firepower it can muster.

The Leaky Cauldron informs us that a trial date has now been set.

The Guardian writes on March 11, 2008:

On one side: global-celebrity author JK Rowling. On the other: an amateur fan site devoted to the world’s favourite boy wizard. At stake: the soul of Harry Potter.

We saw a vision of Hedwig bringing in the last issues of US Reports by mail the other day to deal with a case of mysterious first impression?
WHOO can be sure?

As The Guardian writes, all wizards of the legal powers convene:

[O]n March 24 when a New York court considers the injunction that Rowling and Warner Brothers have taken out against a small, Michigan-based publisher, RDR Books, to prevent publication of the Harry Potter Lexicon, an A-Z guide to all things Hogwarts. It could also be a landmark case, because what is at stake is not just an author’s right to control the publication of secondary works but also the right to publish in book form information that has been previously available on the web.

Keep your dragons at bay!

What does the law of superheros tell us about the rights of mere mortals?

Hat tip to CaryGEE.

Update with some links about the case found online:

From Stanford’s Fair Use Project
Nice posting and lots of comments at Crooked Timber.
P2PNet and P2PNet-again
The Online Harry Potter Lexicon of the Challenged Book
The J.K. Rowling Official Site praising the online website
RDR Books
Steve Vander Ark at the UrbanWire
Library Journal where Rowling says the book is a “Harry Potter rip-off”
Beattie’s Book Blog

RDR Books writes:

HARRY POTTER LEXICON CASE UPDATE

New York Federal District Court Judge Robert Patterson has scheduled a trial for March 24, 25 and 26 in the matter of Warner Bros. Entertainment and J.K. Rowling v. RDR Books. The judge consolidated a previously scheduled injunction hearing with the trial. The plaintiffs want to block publication of librarian Steve Vander Ark’s Harry Potter Lexicon. Here is the RDR Books statement on the case:

In this action, a distinguished and tremendously successful novelist demands the suppression of a reference guide to her works. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, asserts that this reference guide infringes both her copyright in the seven Potter novels and her right to publish, at some unidentified point in the future, a reference guide of her own. In support of her position she appears to claim a monopoly on the right to publish literary reference guides, and other non-academic research, relating to her own fiction.

This is a right no court has ever recognized. It has little to recommend it. If accepted, it would dramatically extend the reach of copyright protection, and eliminate an entire genre of literary supplements: third party reference guides to fiction, which for centuries have helped readers better access, understand and enjoy literary works. By extension, it would threaten not just reference guides, but encyclopedias, glossaries, indexes, and other tools that provide useful information about copyrighted works. Ms. Rowling’s intellectual property rights simply do not extend so far and, even if they did, she has not shown that the publication of this reference guide poses a sufficient threat of irreparable harm to justify an injunction. Her preliminary injunction motion should be denied.

Read RDR Books’ Opposition Brief filed by our attorneys David Hammer, Lizbeth Hasse, Anthony Falzone, Julie Ahrens and Robert Handelsman. Also filed was expert witness testimony on the Harry Potter Lexicon by Professor Janet Sorenson of the English faculty at the University of California at Berkeley. Have a look at this exhibit, a thank you note from Scholastic Publication Potterologist and editor Cheryl Klein to Steve Vander Ark. All available background information on the Harry Potter Lexicon lawsuit is available here.

Media contacts for the Harry Potter Lexicon Case

A Private Equity Joint Bid ("Club Deal") for Acquisition of a Target Company held Not per se Illegal under the Sherman Act

We just received in the mail a Paul|Weiss article about a private equity antitrust class action collusion suit (Pennsylvania Avenue Funds v. Edward Borey, et al., No. C06-1737RAJ, W.D. Wa.) which was dismissed on February 21, 2008 by Judge Richard Jones in what appears to be a case of first impression, holding that a joint bid by private equity firms (a so-called “club deal”) is legal under the circumstances of that case, so we pass on more links relating to that decision: a WSJ Deal Journal article by Peter Lattman, a Linklaters Technical Bulletin, the HRO Antitrust Alert, the DLA Piper Antitrust Alert and the Truth on the Market blog, which discuss the decision.

The DLA Piper summary of the decision by Paolo Morante writes:

After initially submitting independent bids, two of the private equity bidders, Vector Capital (Vector) and Francisco Partners (FP), remained as the only bidders in the running. According to the complaint, brought on behalf of a putative class of WatchGuard shareholders, in the final stages of the bid process Vector and FP agreed that Vector would drop its bid, allowing FP to purchase WatchGuard at a reduced price, and then that Vector would fund half of FP’s acquisition in exchange for a 50 percent interest in WatchGuard after the merger. The plaintiffs claimed, among other things, that the agreement between Vector and FP restrained competition in violation Section 1 of the Sherman Act.

Linklaters writes:

Last week, a US federal district court became the first to conclude that an agreement by private equity funds to submit a joint takeover bid does not violate Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. If followed by other US courts, the decision may have important implications for private equity funds considering potential joint-bidding arrangements. See Pennsylvania Avenue Funds v. Borey, No. C06-1737 (W.D. Wash.).

Paul|Weiss writes:

While this result is promising for private equity firms, it is uncertain whether other courts will uphold this decision or apply the same reasoning as the district court did in this case. There is, however, little doubt that these issues will be revisited in other antitrust class actions against private equity firms.

McDermott, Will & Emery write:

The decision is controversial and may well turn out to be overruled on appeal or distinguished by courts that address joint bids in the future. As such, companies should not take undue comfort in this lone district court opinion. This case is of interest, however, because it is the first opinion in several cases that have been filed challenging joint bids, or “club deals,” in corporate acquisitions.

Holme, Roberts & Owen LLP write:

The decision, although one by only a single federal district court in the Western District of Washington, is nonetheless an important ruling for the buyout industry which has been targeted with antitrust suits around the country after the Department of Justice opened an inquiry into possible anticompetitive conduct related to club deals in 2006.

Truth on the Market writes:

Private equity deals have been the subject of a good deal of speculation in antitrust circles in the past several years as bidding arrangements are the subject of pending litigation and have come under the scrutiny of the Department of Justice. It’s just one decision, but this one seems pretty dismal for plaintiffs in these private equity collusion suits.

Obama Shows He Can Play Hardball

Clinton started it, and Obama is finishing it, giving due notice to his opponents, also when he is President, that he can play hardball.

1. Hillary Clinton can forget about getting many delegates in Mississippi as the Obama campaign launches a radio ad using Hillary’s comments badmouthing Mississippi. Daily Kos describes this one perfectly as “one very tough ad”. Obama is surely not happy having to use this kind of material, but he has no choice but to respond to the constant stream of unjustified insults from the Clinton campaign, and people have been waiting to see if Obama has a tough side. The answer is, a very tough side, which, of course, you also need as President.

2. The 8-year old sleeping girl in the Clinton 3 a.m. political ad recognized herself in film footage shot nearly 10 years ago for a railroad ad, which the Clinton campaign purchased from Getty Images. So there you are, Clinton supporters, that is where your campaign donations are going. That same girl is now a soon-to-be 18-year old who plans to vote for Obama. See the story here. It is hard to believe that the Clinton campaign would buy this kind of footage featuring people they do not even know. What a disrespect to the young child sleeping in that ad. Incredible.

3. The Clintons are pictured in a photo from their earlier days with fundraiser Tony Rezko, who was indicted by a grand jury for allegedly giving campaign contributions and monies to politicians in exchange for favors. The Clinton campaign has tried by the inappropriate logic of guilt by associaton to tie to Obama to Rezko’s allegedly illegal dealings, although there is no evidence of any wrongdoing by Obama whatsoever, nor has any prosecutor alleged any wrongdoing. Quite the contrary, Rezko contributed to the Democrats during Bill Clinton’s presidency, and the Clintons were themselves involved in their own Whitewater scandal. It is hard to understand how Hillary Clinton can be treating Rezko as if he were already convicted. Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence in criminal law?