Archive for Law

Tricky Dick

Actor Warren Beatty has brought suit against Tribune Co over the film and television rights to Dick Tracy. Back in 1985, Tribune temporarily gave Beatty the rights under the agreement that the rights would revert to Tribune if “a certain period of time” lapsed without Beatty having produced a Dick Tracy movie, TV series or TV special. Beatty used the rights to make “Dick Tracy,” which earned more than $160 million at worldwide box offices in 1990, but had done nothing since then.


Tribune sent Beatty a letter on November 17, 2006, and gave him two years to begin production on Dick Tracy programing or else it would take the rights back. Beatty began a Dick Tracy TV special on November 8 this year, the lawsuit said, and gave Tribune written notice. Tribune responded by saying too little too late, and that it was taking back the rights anyway.

Tribune set an ultimatum but wasn’t prepared for the consequences. It sounds like Tribune made up its mind back in 2006 that it was going to take back the rights whether Beatty consented or not.


Pretty in Pink

I know this has nothing to do with IP law, but I thought it was an interesting story….

A federal judge just dismissed a case regarding the South Carolina prison system’s policy of requiring inmates caught engaging in sexual acts, including masturbation, to wear a pink jumpsuit.

pink-prison-jumpsuit*Not the actual jumpsuit

The Complainant claimed that the pink jumpsuits place the inmates’ lives and physical well-being in danger. In response, State Corrections Department Director Jon Ozmint said the punishment deters inmates and protects female officers.

Ozmint also said, “We don’t believe the United States Constitution protects an inmate’s right to publicly gratify himself.” I thought this was an interesting statement. An inmate has no privacy, and therefore has no choice but to do ‘the act’ publicly. Also, does a person have a fundamental right to gratify himself? I bet all of the Justices do it.


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Yet Another Reason to Hate Airlines

I adore my puppy, Leela, and am dreading the holiday season when I am forced to leave her behind. I considered bringing her with me, but I can’t bear to think about the trauma of traveling across the country in a crate. I am a firm believer in Murphy’s Law, and could never put her life in the hands of the idiots that work in the airport. Leela Brittany Spaniel

I recently discovered that airlines do not have to report all the deaths or accidents that occur to animals as the result of their negligence. Apparently, the current law only requires airlines to report incidents that involve “animals”, which is narrowly defined as one “that is being kept as a pet in a family household in the United States.”

So when twelve-week-old Maggie Mae was run over by a luggage conveyer machine because the Delta crew forgot they had placed her underneath it, her death did not count. Maggie Mae was not an “animal”; she was en route from a breeder to her new owner and, therefore, not yet anyone’s pet. Because of this loophole, Delta proudly claimed zero reportable deaths this year, but refuses to disclose the number of actual animal deaths.

According to the Department of Transportation, their narrow and misguided definition “properly carries out the mandates of the statute.” The author of the original bill, Senator Robert Menendez, does not agree. “I believe the current policies do not reflect Congressional intent,” he wrote. “I am surprised and disappointed that animals covered by this law have been defined in such a narrow fashion.”

Comprehensive and effective laws regarding animal safety are important because they hold airlines accountable for their negligence. In 2005, the USDA fined Delta $187,500 for various reported incidents, including:

  • The deaths of five of six young German shepherds on a May 2002 flight from Atlanta to Dayton, Ohio. The animals were in a cargo compartment with no cooling or air circulation during a two-hour delay. The pilot turned the engines and air conditioning off to save fuel. “At least one of the passengers heard the dogs barking in a distressed manner,” the USDA found.
  • The death and injury of three female English bulldogs from Asheville, N.C., to Atlanta in March 2000. One dog, named Bonnie, died of asphyxiation; two others suffered respiratory distress. The cargo space lacked sufficient space and ventilation, the USDA found.
  • The death of a young coati-mundi, a raccoonlike animal, in February 2002. The airline failed to give it food or water for four days when its owner failed to pick it up in New York.
  • The loss of a 10-week-old Neapolitan Mastiff puppy that was flown from San Francisco to Newark, N.J., in December 2001. After the flight arrived, the puppy disappeared from its crate. It was never found.
  • The loss of an 8-week-old English bulldog in October 2004. The puppy was flying from Arkansas to Portland, Ore., via Dallas. The puppy arrived in Dallas, but its carrier was empty when the airline put it on a connecting flight. The puppy was never recovered.
  • The death of a cat named Hereford during a November 2003 flight from Portland, Ore., to Greensboro, N.C., via Atlanta. Delta allowed the animal’s owners to fly with two other cats in the cabin. “Delta assured the cats’ owners that Hereford would be safe” in cargo, the USDA wrote. Delta’s staff in Portland noted that Hereford appeared distressed but shipped the animal anyway. The cat was dead on arrival in Greensboro.
  • The October 2004 death of a 5-year-old cat named Smokey en route to Atlanta. The USDA found that Delta agreed to transport the 14-pound cat in a carrier that wasn’t large enough.

Given the option to minimize fines by reporting fewer accidents, it is no wonder the airline industry supports this skewed interpretation of the law.

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