Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The OPEN Act.

Today Wikipedia is dark as well as Reddit. Google is wearing a black armband. It is a full-on protest over the Anit-Piracy legislation Congress will vote on on Jan 24th. Very exciting to see a concerted effort to get Washington's attention. All of this protesting is refreshing. We still have people Occupying City Hall where I live.

My main complaint about the Tech community is that they created an online environment that facilitates CRIME. Now that Congress has decided to step in, they are outraged. I believe the Acts are the result of a void created by the people running Google, Reddit etc. I think there was an opportunity to see this day coming and get in front of the Anti-Piracy Train. They missed that opportunity and I wonder why? What else were they occupying their time with??

Greed is on both sides of this issue. Maybe less greed than was involved in the Sub-prime crisis but greed and hubris. The Tech community thinks a lot about themselves.

I have seen the Open Act which purports to be a more reasonable response to Piracy. It amends the Tariff Act of 1930 and addresses unfair trade practices relating to infringement of copyrights and trademarks by certain websites. I have not compared it to SOPA but will do so and come to some understanding of the differences.

Not to be repetitive but why wasn't this Open Act already passed years ago. I think it is because the Tech community talks the talk but only acts when their pocketbooks are in jeopardy...just like Washington.

We have been sliding down the slippery slope of deterioration of the protections surrounding Intellectual Property. SOPA and PIPA may be extreme responses to that slide but at least Washington acted. What has Silicon Valley done?

Monday, January 16, 2012

SOPA--domestic Drama

Bills to stop Web Piracy are causing all sorts of trouble here in the US and in California. My Business Law students are all concerned. There are so adorable.

The Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act are supported by the Motion Picture Association of America. In opposition to those Acts is the entire Tech industry who is blacking out Wikipedia as a protest.

I'm thrilled. I plan to organize my entire Legal Research and Writing class around this tremendous event. Finally, I will be privy to my students ACTUAL thoughts instead of those stolen from the anonymous but clearly wisemen of the Wiki world. Who else but the wise have time to update and verify all that is contained there??!!

At this point I don't even care if I sound like my parents....old and ill-informed. Seriously?? A protest that stops the one site I have spent years forbidding students from using.

The tech guys claim that lawmakers just don't get it. Eric Martin of may be right that people do not get the Internet. I just wonder why, if he and other tech people do get it, they have not fought for copyright laws to be enforced. Shouldn't people be able to protect what they create and earn from it without being afraid of others stealing it??!! Maybe this is less about censorship and more about income streams being disrupted.

I really don't like being lectured about getting things when all I see is someone trying to save there ASSETS. If what you do contributes to the violation of the law...then that is a problem. Did you KNOW that when you started doing it. Look, I hate sounding like a cop but if YOU want to be paid at the expense of someone ELSE being paid then I am unsympathetic.

Conflict Resolution 101, be part of the solution and not the problem. The tech world needs to grow up and inform Washington if someone there doesn't get the inter-Web Net.

Tech geeks: Spend less time with Nurf guns and enter the adult-world of law, law creation, and law enforcement. Start making the tough decisions and compromises we are all forced to.

I am sure you have important things to say and we are all listening....and Thanks for the Wikipedia thing!!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Vulture funds

There are legislative loopholes that allow Western companies, banks and financial institutions, to buy forgiven debt of a developing country with the intention of collecting later on when the country may have cash. These companies or Vulture funds establish themselves in tax havens for the single purpose of acquiring debt at a fraction of it value and then, as a creditor, seeking payment if and when the country is solvent and can pay. Debt collection by a creditor must be sanctioned by the courts, debt collection laws, and legislation regarding debt forgiveness. Is it possible that hedge ‘vulture funds’ are given a pass legally to conduct business this way at the expense of poverty stricken countries? Is there anything stopping these funds from buying Greece’s debt at a fraction and collecting later?

Vulture funds operate legally under the domestic and international legal infrastructure that allows them to do so. There are some jurisdictions that are attempting to prevent vulture funds from various legal systems, such as India, Belgium and the United Kingdom. Those nations anti-vulture fund legislation, among other things, proscribes access to courts by companies collecting on debts from High Indebted Poor Countries. As of yet, no similar legislation has been successful in the United States.

Vulture funds recently suffered a loss in the reorganization of Washington Mutual Inc (WMI). The Bankruptcy court ruled that certain distressed debt hedge fund creditors- Aurelius, Owl Creek, Appaloosa, and Centerbridge- traded WMI subordinated debt based on material non-public information they had learned from their lawyers involved in the reorganization of WMI. The court disallowed their claims under the reorganization for equitable reasons.

I am going to spend a little time looking into Vulture funds and how they are regulated in the United States and elsewhere.