ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Saturday, July 9, 2005

New podcast to feature software licensing

Those whose interests run to software licensing or who just like to hear what kind of innovative things other lawyers are cooking up may be intersted in Dan Bricklin's Software Licensing Podcast.  (What's a podcast, you ask?  It's basically TV show you can download and watch on your computer.)  Bricklin's program will feature a pretty wide array of experts and look to be pretty interesting.

The prjectis being put together by Software Garden, which also sells a video that introduces novices to the software licensing business.

Thanks to InHouseBlog for the tip.

July 9, 2005 in E-commerce | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

Professionals lose under bankruptcy reform

While most of the focus of battle over the recent reforms to the Bankruptcy Act focused on credit card companies and cash-strapped consumers, one group of big losers under the deal will likely be high-income professionals whose work exposes them to malpractice claims, according to a recent analysis by Richard O. Jacobs of Holland & Knight LLP in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Those hit with large malpractice verdicts are less likely to get them discharged, and more likely to have to pay them off over time out of their high earnings.

July 9, 2005 in Commentary | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

You snooze, you lose

Puerto_rico_flag It's one of those sad-but-true things, but the whole point of a statute of limitations is to cut off meritorious claims.  It's also true that even the best lawyer can't help a client who sits on his rights.

Gilberto Santa Rosa (bio here) is a successful salsa singer in Puerto Rico, known as the "Gentleman of Salsa."  When he was just starting out he made a deal with a local outfit, Combo Records, to record and to produce his music.  The result was four albums, which did well enough that he was subsequently able to jump to CBS/Sony, where he would ultimately go platinum.  Combo gave Santa Rosa some advance payments, under the deals, but no royalties apparently ever came.  Santa Rosa said that he asked about them frequently over the years but never got any response.  He finally sued for, among other things, breach of contract and unjust enrichment.  Combo moved to dismiss.

The trouble with Santa Rosa's claim is that it was unclear when, or even if, a written contract had been signed.  There was evidence that it was signed in 1978, 1984, 1986 -- or maybe never.  This left the contract claim dead in the water, since under any theory of when the contract had been formed and when it had been breached, the date was long past.  The court noted that it was possible that some portion of Santa Rosa's unjust enrichment claim might not be time barred, but Santa Rosa's own allegations were so vague that he would be unable to prove that.  Case dismissed.

Santa Rosa v. Combo Records, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13026 (D.P.R. June 28, 2005).

July 9, 2005 in Recent Cases | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Today in History: July 9

1357: Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV lays the cornerstone for a new toll bridge, known today as the Charles Bridge (webcam here) linking together the two sides of Prague.

1749: The foundation of one of Canada's great law schools is laid when General Edward Cornwallis founds a small military outpost on the shore of what the locals call Chebucto, or "Big Harbor."  The place will grow to become Halifax, Nova Scotia, home of Dalhousie University.

1755: General Braddock's force of British regulars and colonial militia is routed by a much smaller French and Indian force at the Battle of the Monongahela.  Three British survivors of the debacle are George Washington, Daniel Boone, and Daniel Morgan.

1797: Statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke dies at Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.

1846: Congress returns half of the District of Columbia to Virginia, concluding that the federal government will never get big enough to occupy even the half of the original 100-square-mile District.

1896: At the Democratic Party convention in Chicago, Senator William Jennings Bryan declares:

"Having behind us the producing masses of this nation and the world, supported by the commercial interests, the laboring interests and the toilers everywhere, we will answer their demand for a gold standard by saying to them: You shall not press down upon the brow of labor this crown of thorns, you shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold!"

1900: Queen Victoria gives Royal Assent to the creation of the Commonwealth of Australia.

1901: Romance Queen Dame Barbara Cartland is born.  More than a billion copies of her 724 novels have been sold to date.

1938: Justice Benjamin Nathan Cardozo, perhaps the most opulent judicial stylist in U.S. history, dies at age 68.  "In truth," he liked to say, "I am nothing but a plodding mediocrity -- please observe, a plodding mediocrity.  For a mere mediocrity does not go very far, but a plodding one gets quite a distance."

1955: Eleven leading intellectuals, led by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, sign a manifesto advising the governments of the world not to engage in nuclear war.  It apparently works.

July 9, 2005 in Today in History | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Friday, July 8, 2005

Scrap over pop Pope disk

In the modern world there's a market for nearly anything, a fact illustrated by the licensing battle going on over a CD featuring celebrity readings (by, among others, Britney Spears, James Earl Jones, Faith Hill, and N'Sync), of prayers written by Pope John Paul II.  One of those who claims the rights to the disk is Quadree El-Amin, former manager of Janet "Wardrobe Malfunction" Jackson.

The whole story, from The Reporter, is here.

July 8, 2005 in In the News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

No consensus on international rules

From BNA (subscription required);  "Over at the Hague Conference on Private International Law, long-running negotiations to establish certainty in international business contracts are producing anything but.  Clickwrap contracts are now officially included, that much is certain. But, on the eve of what were supposed to be final negotiations and formal agreement, serious intellectual property and contractual issues are still bedeviling negotiators."

The full story is here.

July 8, 2005 in Commentary | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Research assistant's return spurs blog

Grethe_hahn If you've been wondering why the blog has been a little dull lately, it's only partly because of the laziness of the editors and the summer doldrums.  A big part is the fact that ace research assistant Grethe Hahn (TWU Class of 2007) has been on a cruise to Alaska, where she has (from the photographic evidence) been cavorting with Scandinavian sailing men.  She's now back, so expect improvement.

Hahn's connections with contract law go way back -- her family name was, in fact, originally Huhn, which gave her a kind of mystical connection with Frigaliment Importing Co. v. B.N.S. International Sales Corp.

July 8, 2005 in About this Blog | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Today in history: July 8

1497: Vasco da Gama leaves Lisbon for the first European voyage to India.

1663: King Charles II gives a royal charter to Baptist minister John Clarke to found a colony at Rhode Island in New England.

1775: The Continental Congress, trying to avoid a wider war, sends the Olive Branch Petition to King George III, offering to stop fighting if the King will redress their grievances.  The king refuses even to receive it.

1826: Maryland lawyer Luther Martin, the delegate who led the fight against the proposed new U.S. Constitution because he featured it would lead to centralized government, dies at the home of his former client, Aaron Burr, in New York City.

1839: John Davison Rockefeller is born at Richford, New York, the son of a bigamist who made a living as a quack doctor and con man.

1889: Dow Jones & Co. publishes the first issue of a new and improved version of their existing Customers' Afternoon Letter, which they call the Wall Street Journal.

1889:  John L. Sullivan knocks out Jake Kilrain after 75 rounds in the last bare-knuckle heavyweight championship fight.  Contrary to much popular belief, gloves were introduced not to protect the boxer being hit, but the knuckles of the one doing the hitting.

1932: The Dow Jones Industrial Average hits its lowest point during the Great Depression, falling to 41.22.

July 8, 2005 in Today in History | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 7, 2005

New labor contract rules in Indonesia

Indonesia_flag Indonesia is getting a massive re-tooling of its laws on labor contracts and regulation.   Ira Eddymurthy, of the Jakarta firm of Soewito Suhardiman Eddymurthy Kardono, offers a rundown of the changes in a series of papers:

Part 1       Part 2       Part 3

July 7, 2005 in Commentary | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Today in History: July 7

1798: Depredations by French privateers on American merchant ships lead the U.S. Congress to rescind all treaties with France, triggering an undeclared naval war between the two countries that will end when the Americans capture more than 20 French vessels, including two frigates.

1816: Richard Brinsley Sheridan, who wrote enormously farces like The Rivals and A School for Scandal to finance his real love, politics, dies flat broke and out of office.

1846: Immediately after learning that war has broken out with Mexico, Commodore John Sloat occupies Monterey and Yerba Buena (now San Francisco) and claims California for the United States.

1754: Kings College opens its doors New York City, with one faculty member and eight students.  After the King loses the Revolutionary War, the name is discreetly changed to "Columbia."

1930: Under the direction of industrialist Henry Kaiser, work begins on the mammoth Hoover Dam.

1936: Henry Philips gets the patents for the X-topped screws that bear his name.  His breakthrough will come when General Motors decided to use the new screws for its 1936 Cadillac -- four years later virtually every American car will be made with Philips screws.

1948: Fatima Cigarettes brings you the first episode of a fact-based police program called Dragnet.  The show's musical motif will go on to edge out the start of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony as the most recognizable four-note musical opening of all time.

1969: The Canadian Parliament enacts the Official Languages Act, decreeing that henceforth English and French shall be equal languages in Canada.

July 7, 2005 in Today in History | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Huie, Burnham to visit Memphis

Marsha_cope_huie We've previously mentioned that Memphis's Irma Russell will be visiting this coming year at Pace in New York.  But two veteran contracts profs have jumped at the chance to visit one of the planet's best spots for blues, barbecue, and Elvis memorabilia.  Marsha Cope Huie (Tulsa) and Scott Burnham (Montana) will fill in at Memphis for the 2005-06 year.

It's something of a homecoming for Huie (left), who earned her J.D. at Memphis, before taking an LL.M. at Cambridge University.  She taught for several years at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas, before joining the faculty at the University of Tulsa.  In addition to contracts and commercial law, she teaches and writes in the areas of international business and EU law.  Among other activities, she's a member of the Congress of Fellows of the Centre for International Legal Studies in Salzburg, Austria.

Scott_burnham Burnham, who'll teach the spring semester, earned both his J.D. and LL.M. at NYU, has been at Montana since 1982.  Probably best-known for his popular books on contract drafting, especially his new third edition of Drafting and Analyzing Contracts: A Guide to the Practical Application of the Principles of Contract Law (Lexis/Nexis), and his work with the Computer Assisted Legal Instruction project, he's also been a visiting professor at Santa Clara, Tennessee, Western New England, UNLV, and Vytautas Magnus in Lithuania, as well as doing a Fulbright to the University of Montevideo in Uruguay.

July 6, 2005 in Contract Profs | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Freedom v. Regulation

The tension between liberating economic activity and regulating pernicious practices is a familiar one on contract law.  In an important sense, contract law is just one of the mechanisms in society that enable and control private transactions, and the choices the society makes about the trade-offs are important to the societies' prosperity and development.

That's the thesis of a new article in the McKinsey Quarterly (free registration required) by Scott Beardsley and Diana Farrell, Regulation that's good for competition.  Good regulations can boost economic performance, they say, but bad ones can be dreadful, and there's a powerful correlation between bad regulations and lousy economic performance.  Using World Bank data, they note that bad regulations cut about 12 percent from U.S. productivity, a considerably smaller figure than for Japan (19%), England-France-Germany (27%), Brazil (43%), and India (61%).  And a study of rich and poor countries says that the real costs of dealing with administrative regulations is three times as high in poor countries as in rich ones.

The authors aren't anti-government libertarians -- they offer a number of strategies for improving the results of regulation while decreasing its impact.

July 6, 2005 in Commentary | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Film Clips: Elle's Dad on law students

[Elle Woods has just stunned her mother and father by announcing that she's planning on going to Harvard Law School]
     Mom:  Honey, you were First Runner-Up at the "Miss Hawaiian Tropics" contest. Why are you going to throw that all away?
     Elle:  Going to Harvard is the only way I'm going to get the love of my life back.
     Dad:  Oh, sweetheart, you don't need law school!  Law school is for people who are boring and ugly and serious.  And you, button, are none of those things.

          From: Legally Blonde (2001)

July 6, 2005 in Film Clips | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Big E-Commerce stuff slated for Chicago

Aba_logo_1 The ABA's Cyberspace Law Committee is planning a big meeting at the ABA annual summer bean feed, scheduled for this for August 4-9 in year in Chicago.  The Committee -- a bunch of the nicest and most welcoming folks you're likely to work with -- is always drumming for more members, particularly law school professors and scholars interested in aspects of e-commerce, whether doctrinal, theoretical, or technical.  And they're always happy to let you crash their committee meetings to see if you're interested.

Click on the "read more" link for Chair Vince Polley's invitation and outline of the festivities.   Click here to register.  Tomorrow, July 7, is the last day to submit reservations to ensure you get to attend the semi-legendary Cyberspace Dinner!

Continue reading

July 6, 2005 in Meetings | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Today in History: July 6

1785: The new United States of America selects the dollar (Spanish for thaler) as its monetary unit.  Unlike the Spanish version, which was conventionally divided into eight bits ("pieces of eight" in Pirate-speak), the American is the world's first decimal currency, although the older usage will remain in such phrases as "two bits" to mean the equivalent of a quarter-dollar.

1854: The first convention of the new Republican Party convenes at Jackson, Michigan.  In head-to-head Presidential elections, the new party will go 23-15 against the rival Democrats, 7-3 since 1968.

1923: Russia, Transcaucasia, Ukraine and Belarus sign the Treaty of Union that officially creates the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

1944: The tragic Hartford (Conn.) Circus Fire breaks out, killing 168 people, mostly women and children.  One result of the fire will be that staple of Business Associations casebooks, Ringling v. Ringling Bros.-Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows.

1946: George Walker Bush is born at New Haven, Connecticut, a little over a month before William Jefferson Clinton comes into the world.

1964: United Artists releases the first Beatles film, A Hard Day's Night.  The studio had insisted on shooting in in cheap black and white and in only 16 weeks, because it was convinced Beatlemania would end by the time students went back to school in the fall.

1974: Twelve folks show up at the Janet Wallace Auditorium of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, for the first live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion.

July 6, 2005 in Today in History | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Pennies from hell

Another variant of that old chestnut, the Angry Debtor Who Pays The Bill With Bags of Pennies, is working its way through the Texas courts.  Newly divorced Michael Powell, unhappy about being ordered to pay $1,000 in legal fees to lawyer Ken Tarlton, who drew up a trust agreement as part of the settlement, had 100,000 loose shiny copper coins delivered to Tarlton's office.  Tarlton was not amused when the bank charged him $100 to turn the legal tender into actual money.

Tarlton sued Powell for the $100, plus his time (at $150 an hour) for taking the money to the bank.  A trial judge held that the pennies were legal tender, so Powell wasn't actually in contempt.  But under Texas courts' general power to fine people who are jerks, he ordered Powell to pay Tarlton's damages.  An appeals court affirmed the decision, but Powell says he will appeal to the Texas Supreme Court.

July 5, 2005 in In the News | Permalink | TrackBack (1)

News in brief

Nine months into the National Hockey League lockout, negotiators are apparently making progress, and rumors are that a deal may be in the offing.

An Internet advertiser has sued Google on various grounds, including breach of contract, claiming that the World's Largest Media Company's pay-per-click advertising program is rife with fraud.

Britain's billionaire Reubens brothers have settled their $300 million contract claim against Russian Oleg Deripaska, clearing the way for Deripaska to float his giant Rusal aluminum firm on the London Stock Exchange.

Germany's Allianz AG has walked away from a major insurance contract with DaimlerChrysler AG, citing problems with the rates for insuring Chrysler.

India's Cricket Board is planning to institute a new system of standardized contracts for the nation's coaches, who are currently hired on wildly disparate and individually negotiated agreements.

With world copper prices near record highs, miners in Chile, the world's largest exporter, are striking for higher wages.

Brazilian soccer star Robinho is threatening legal action with FIFA if his Santos club insists on holding him to his contract, which runs through 2008, instead of selling him to Real Madrid.

July 5, 2005 in In the News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

UK Dentists: More patient time in new contract

Britain's National Health Service dentists are protesting loudly over delays in getting them a new contract.   It's not a standard more-money complaint, though.  About half of the U.K.'s 26,000 dentists work for the government, and they make roughly the same amounts as private dentists, around  £65,000, with less risk than those in private practice.

But NHS workers typically see 50 patients a day, or twice the number seen by an average private dentist.  This doesn't mean they work twice as hard, but rather that they can spend only half as much time with each patient, which makes the practice much less rewarding.

July 5, 2005 in In the News | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Today in History: July 5

1610: A London and Bristol Company expedition, under the direction of proprietary governor John Guy, leaves Bristol with 40 settlers to create the first British settlement in Newfoundland.

1687: Sir Isaac Newton publishes his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (3 vol., Latin) in which he sets out his theories of motion and gravitation.

1810: Phineas Taylor Barnum is born at Bethel, Connecticut.  He'll famously remark that "No one ever lost money underestimating the American public," but that's hyperbole; he'll manage to go broke himself four times during the course of his career.

1811: Venezuela declares independence from Spain.

1865: William Booth, a born-again former pawnbroker, opens the Christian Revival Society to bring the faith to the darkest parts of Britain's slums.  In 1878 he will rename it The Salvation Army.

1934: Violence erupts on "Bloody Tuesday" in San Francisco, California, as striking longshoremen try to prevent cargo from being unloaded by hijacking and wrecking trucks.  More than a hundred people are injured, but only two, both strikers, are killed.

1946: Engineer Louis Reard unveils the first modern two-piece bathing suit for women, which he calls the "bikini."  It will eventually pass mayonnaise to become the most important French influence on American culture.

1971: The 26th amendment to the U.S. Constitution goes into effect, lowering the voting age to 18.  The drinking age remains 21 in most places, though, because drinking requires somewhat more sense.

July 5, 2005 in Today in History | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

Monday, July 4, 2005

Happy Independence Day!

"We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."

(Image: Emory University School of Law)

July 4, 2005 in Miscellaneous | Permalink | TrackBack (0)