Legal Research Blog


Lawdable Quotes: Benjamin Cardozo

Law never is, but is always about to be.

~Benjamin Cardozo

Lawdable Quotes: Theodore Roosevelt

No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man’s permission when we ask him to obey it.

~Theodore Roosevelt

"Naked Cowboy" Sues Over an M&M

This week, the New York District Court Judge Denny Chin ok’d the suit alleging trademark infringment that the city’s “Naked Cowboy” filed in February against the producers of M&Ms. Robert Burck’s persona as the Naked Cowboy, who dances in his skivvies and sings along to his guitar in Times Square, is a New York City legend. He alleges that Mars Inc. violated his right to privacy and his trademark rights by producing a billboard for M&Ms that outfitted the candy to resemble his likeness, underpants, cowboy get up and all.

While Judge Chin ruled out the violation of privacy, noting that in New York the right to privacy protects only living individuals and not characters, the trademark suit will now go forward. The title of Naked Cowboy and his likeness are registered trademarks. Burck also claims that the M&Ms advertisements “falsely suggest he endorses M&M candy.”

Source: CNN

British Security Cameras Learn to Listen

According to BBC News, the CCTV cameras used on streets in the UK to record criminal activity are currently being primed to recognize specific sounds, ensuring that they will pivot in time to catch any crime taking place. The cameras will now use artificial intelligence software to detect certain noises, such as a window breaking or a car alarm. Today, the CCTV cameras are already sophisticated enough to distinguish between normal and “violent” movements. According to developers, the cameras’ accuracy in recognizing visual and audible cues will only get better as they “learn” with time.

While these technological advances are welcomed by the law enforcement community, some British citizens believe that the cameras are an invasion of privacy, and question whether they are being misused. The BBC itself recently unearthed hundreds of instances in which city councils used the cameras not to catch crimes, but to spy on individuals under the powers of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

Oh, did we mention? The cameras can talk too. So, if you are committing a crime in Britain, prepare yourself for a verbal smackdown from a talking robot.

Source: The BBC

Telecom Immunity Strikes a Chord with Congress?

Congress passed what can now be considered a bipartisan bill to expand the rights of telecommunication groups aiding the government with surveillance efforts. Since the attacks on September 11th, 2001, the executive and legislative branches have been working towards an agreement to develop appropriate measures for discovering and preventing possible terrorist attacks. The bill will essentially provide immunity to the aforementioned telecom companies who obtain approval for the interception of calls and emails and display necessary documentation of the approval if solicited afterwards. With a number of compromises coming from both parties, this bill has become some what of a bipartisan effort. Initial hesitation coming from the democrats to accept surveillance and from the republicans to restrict it, has now subsided in light of further developments. Instead of immediate immunity, any companies involved in wiretapping or other surveillance procedure, can and will be brought before the judicial system for questioning. Legality of the actions in question will be determined based on authorization from the administration, a step that is being noted as a “formality” by some representatives from the GOP. The parties have come to an agreement, for the most part, that granting surveillance powers to telecom companies will lead to better security in the long run. The bill now waits for approval from the Senate, a signature from the White House and a great deal of protest from civil rights groups around the country.