Nov. 5-19

In a forthcoming paper, Lucian Bebchuk and co-writer Robert Jackson of Columbia University argue that shareholders should be given the chance to vote directly on political contributions and that companies ought to be required to disclose their spending to intermediaries. Currently, when it comes to such support, "the interests of (company) directors and executives may significantly diverge from those of shareholders," they write.
The article was also cited by Think Progress.
In countries like India, where Microsoft encourages local police officers to conduct raids, the company can come off as a bully willing to go after its own business partners if they occasionally peddle counterfeit software to people who struggle to afford the real thing. “It is better for the Indian government to focus on educating its children rather than making sure royalties go back to Microsoft,” says Eben Moglen, a law professor at Columbia Law School and a leading advocate of free software.
The liberating potential of modern communications systems and their vulnerability to corporate and political control is as old a story as the telegraph and as up-to-date as the iPhone. Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu tells the tale in fine style in his entertaining, insightful new book.
Book reviews also appeared in the Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times. Wu was also interviewed about his new book “The Master Switch” on The Takeaway.
The tight side of the new management formula sharpened with the January 2006 appointment of Columbia University law professor James Liebman as the system’s first chief accountability officer. Charged with figuring out new ways to measure a school’s success, Liebman developed the controversial progress report metric that assigns each school a letter grade based on students’ test scores.
A similar article appeared in Education Week.
Tim Wu: Today's Internet borders will probably change eventually, especially as new markets appear. But it's hard to avoid the conclusion that we are living in an age of large information monopolies. Could it be that the free market on the Internet actually tends toward monopolies? Could it even be that demand, of all things, is actually winnowing the online free market—that Americans, so diverse and individualistic, actually love these monopolies?
A similar article appeared in TechCrunch, which features material edited out from the Journal piece. The op-ed was commented on by a Christian Science Monitor blog. Other articles about Wu and his book appeared in The New York Times, Technology Review, The Big Think, and the Chronicle of Higher Education online, among many others.
Columbia Law School Professor John Coffee said it is too early to assign a weighted probability on the litigation against Bank of America, and any other similar lawsuits that could be on the horizon, because they don’t fit the normal pattern of investor lawsuits. “It is very early and premature to quantify any litigation on mortgage buy-backs, but I have severe doubts that it would be possible to frame these suits as class actions,” Coffee said.
Daniel C. Richman, a Columbia University law professor, said trial judges “are very careful about signals they send a deliberating jury at what is thought to be a very sensitive point in its deliberations.” “They don’t want to tip the balance one way or another,” he added.
“As a matter of logic, it’s hard to reconcile the murder acquittals with the conspiracy conviction -- particularly given the jury’s finding that the attack led to the deaths of innocents,” said Daniel Richman, a former federal prosecutor in New York who is now a professor at Columbia Law School. “However, juries sometimes break logjams in deliberation with compromise verdicts, and this seems to be just that.” A witness that Kaplan precluded from testifying might have made the difference on the murder counts, Richman said.
John Coffee: Many argue that under its new director of enforcement, Robert Khuzami, the SEC's enforcement staff has been reorganized into a flatter, less bureaucratic structure and can now devote more resources to actual litigation. This columnist shares that view, but many still reply that the SEC characteristically pulls its punches whenever there is a chance that it might lose, either settling cheaply or allowing the settlement to be indemnified in a manner that produces a hollow, bloodless victory.
John Coffee: A little noticed provision of the Dodd-Frank Act (§ 165(b)(1)(B)) authorizes the Federal Reserve Board to adopt a "contingent capital standard" as a prudential standard for systemically significant financial institutions. Most read quickly past this provision, not quite understanding what contingent capital is. Yet contingent capital could prove to be one of the most important provisions in the Dodd-Frank Act, because it can potentially compensate for a new vulnerability in the financial system that arises precisely because of Dodd-Frank's reworking of financial regulation.
John Coffee, a professor at Columbia Law School, said that by arresting Ms. Bongiorno and Ms. Crupi at their homes prosecutors are signaling that they intend to exert maximum pressure on them to get information about other suspects or witnesses. “The only real interest they could have in these people is that there could be other Madoff family members that could still be implicated,” Mr. Coffee said.

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Nov. 19-Dec. 3

If you want to understand why Tim Wu -- the Columbia Law professor who invented the term "net neutrality" -- is such a fanatic about open networks, consider the sorry state of cellular phones a mere four years ago. Back then, phone companies exercised total control over handsets, blocking customers from downloading any software to customize their phones, except perhaps for a few over-priced, badly designed apps.
A similar article appeared in GigaOM. Wu wrote a rebuttal to the above article that appeared in Fortune Tech.
John Coffee: “It is a big matter. It’s a nationwide investigation. The FBI is spread across the country interviewing. We do know as a result of the Galleon probe some 14 people have pleaded guilty already. All of those 14 will be pumped by the SEC and US Attorneys to give information and leads into other cases and all of them have an incentive to give information for leniency.”
Similar articles appeared on The Street and in Bloomberg Business Week.
Eben Moglen, a professor at Columbia Law School and founding director of the nonprofit Software Freedom Law Center, said he suspected that some of the unknown patents could be related to technology used by open source programmers. "The threat is that commercial users or distributors who can pay royalties will be asked to pay royalties, and the nonprofit community-based sector that actually produces the innovation and which cannot pay royalties or accept conditions on distribution will be hobbled, interfered with or impeded," Moglen said in an interview.
“Netflix used an open-source network, the U.S. Postal Service, to launch an alternative distribution business without asking anyone for permission,” said Tim Wu, a Columbia University law professor and author of “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires.” “Now they are using another open-source network, the Internet, to transform the business. It is much easier for Netflix to change, because they don’t have to undergo a kind of religious conversion like media companies will have to.”
DeLay Convicted of Money Laundering
“It will put more people on notice that something which by one perspective might be considered as legal on the other can be characterized as money laundering,” said Richard Briffault, a professor at Columbia University Law School.
A similar article appeared in The Independent (U.K.)
Michael Gerrard, director of the Center for Climate Change Law, was also present at the discussion. At the behest of the mission of the Marshall Islands, Gerrard, along with his colleagues at the Columbia Law School, are hosting a conference in 2011 on the severe legal implications of climate-displaced people of island nations due to rising sea levels.
Many taxpayers fear that if they pay to convert [to a Roth IRA], Congress will change the rules in the future. The issues are many, but at least one expert familiar with tax theory and history, Columbia University Law School Professor Michael Graetz, plans a partial Roth conversion early next year. "Waiting until next year gives until October 2012 to undo the conversion, and we should know more about where Congress is heading," says Prof. Graetz.
But experts said it was unlikely that Amazon would face legal action for selling services to WikiLeaks. “If that data happens in the moment to be in the U.S., that’s really good because we have a First Amendment,” said Eben Moglen, a law professor at Columbia Law School. Mr. Moglen added that, although where hardware is located can make a difference legally, there wouldn’t be much point in getting Amazon to stop providing services to WikiLeaks. “For all practical purposes … if the law is unfavorable, that Web server process will go somewhere else,” he said.

Daniel C. Richman, a Columbia University professor of criminal law and former federal prosecutor, said it was largely up to juries to decide whether to accept a defense of entrapment, which in practice is often hard to win. "These are jury questions that by and large go against the defendant, although every case is different," Richman said.
WASHINGTON POST (Ezra Klein blog)—Dec. 1
I was talking with Tim Wu on Tuesday, and he argued that the direction these technologies take are going to be much more important in terms of human freedom than most of the policy decisions we're likely to make in the near future. And he's probably right about that. Cell phones open communication options for the third world that were inconceivable years ago.
A similar story appeared on CBC Radio.
While the industry can't self-regulate adequately, government mandates aren't the answer either, argued Eben Moglen, a law professor at Columbia University in New York City and a founding director of the Software Freedom Law Center. "Data mining industries are being built in the United States which are incapable of self-regulating to avoid surveilling people," he told the E-Commerce Times. "Comprehensive surveillance of a kind that would have been regarded as totalitarian in nature just five minutes ago is their business model."
Thursday began with MPs dressed in their best for a group photo clicked in the Parliament House and ended with internationally acclaimed economist Jagdish Bhagwati telling them the corruption issue is exaggerated in India. “It is easy to exaggerate corruption we have today. In India, public figures are considered to be corrupt unless they prove to you otherwise,” Bhagwati said delivering the Hiren Mukherjee Memorial annual Parliamentary lecture. He said the problem in India is “nobody gets punished. In America, if you are caught, even God can’t help you.”
WALL STREET JOURNAL (Digits Blog)—Dec. 2
During the hearing, Mr. [Eben] Moglen’s testimony was not available on the committee’s site while that of other witnesses was, prompting an outcry among privacy advocates on Twitter. The written testimony then became available later in the afternoon. However, Rep. Spence asked during the hearing that Mr. Moglen be given an opportunity to revise his written remarks.
A similar story appeared in Multichannel News and the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

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