Posted By: Debora Ilea

Lawyers have always been a savvy bunch; so, it is little wonder that they are now taking unique and creative approaches to the practice of law to compensate for the economic woes of the current times. Some are restructuring their billing systems, relying more on flat fee and other billing strategies than on hourly billing. Some are taking their operations to the internet and eliminating the overhead of maintaining a physical office space. Some are branching out to other professions and using their law degrees to enhance their marketability in those professions. And some are turning into copyright trolls, forming companies that buy up the copyright rights to literary works and troll the internet for infringers to sue. Continue reading


Zombiecookies, Evercookies and More

Posted by: Matt Kimmel

Cookies have become a pervasive and largely transparent element of the browsing experience. Unless your browser is set to ask before storing cookies, chances are you never have to deal with cookies, although you may deal with technical difficulties stemming from not storing them if that’s the behavior you’ve selected. Their functions range from the benign, like storing session data, to the less benign, such as allowing advertisers to track your browsing habits.

The next step in the evolution of cookies was the zombie cookie. A zombie cookie is any cookie which is able to reconstruct itself even after attempts to delete it. Obviously, if you think you’ve gotten rid of a cookie, only for an advertiser, or other snooper to be able to find it at a later time, that’s a privacy risk. In September of 2010, the zombie cookie was spread far and wide when one implementation, called Evercookie, was released to the general public. Evercookie is little more than an exceptionally resilient zombie cookie, able to reproduce itself in up to 13 different locations. While cookies began as a method of remotely storing data, more and more malicious uses for them, from cookie poisoning to zombie cookies were discovered. Now, according to this post, the only difference between some cookies and some viruses is the property of being executable. Continue reading

Copyright trolling for fun and profit

Posted By: Anthony Eskridge

Copyright trolling is the act of purchasing the copyright to material and suing infringers for profit. Intellectual property start-up Righthaven LLC, acting on behalf of Stephens Media, owner of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, has sued over a hundred Internet sites over copyright infringement of the Review-Journal’s online news articles. What Righthaven is doing is certainly lawful. But is it in the pursuit of justice? Or is it a flotation device for a drowning newspaper industry? Continue reading

Network Effects and the Inevitable Monopoly

Posted By: Matt Kimmel

The Wall Street Journal recently published a piece by Professor Tim Wu of Columbia Law School entitled In the Grip of the Internet Monopolists. In it, he argues that we are living in an era of nascent information monopolies residing on the internet. These monopolies are currently kind and benevolent, but with time will become increasingly obstructionist, greedy, and inept.

He compares Google, Amazon, Twitter, today’s AT&T, and Verizon and others to the AT&T, Hollywood, and NBC/ABC/CBS of the mid 20th century. To be sure, some of these are strong monopolies. The chances of a new wireless carrier muscling into AT&T and Verizon’s market niche is slim to none. Several of these dominant players have network effects that brutally exclude any potential competitor. Several of them enjoy the advantages of traditional dominant market players, such as economies of scale. Without delving into the mires of the wireless phone carrier marketplace, I would say that AT&T, Verizon, and perhaps a small number of smaller players represent an oligopoly on par with some of the worst found in the last century. However, as for the rest, I am not so sure. Continue reading