Computer mouseOur own Professor Bob Hillman and his collaborator Professor Maureen O’Rourke of the Boston University School of Law have a forthcoming article on the law of software contracts, which is available on SSRN’s Legal Scholarship Network (LSN).  Professors Hillman and O’Rourke are not new to the topic: they are the Reporter and Associate Reporter for the American Law Institute’s (ALI) Principles of the Law of Software Contracts.  The Principles have been years in the making with a discussion draft submitted to the ALI back in 2007.  ALI membership unanimously approved the final draft in May 2009.  The current law of software contracts is a messy patchwork drawing from federal intellectual property law, common law, and Article 2 of the Uniform Commercial Code.  Thus, the Principles project seeks to “clarify and unify the law of software transactions” by addressing issues of contract formation, enforcement of terms, automated disablement, and contract interpretation, among other issues.

Now, while software and software law may seem mundane in today’s digitally-driven world, the Principles have not been without controversy, especially in the areas of indemnification and warranties.  Specifically, section 3.05, “Other Implied Quality Warranties,” has garnered attention.  The section creates a non-excludable implied warranty that “the software contains no material hidden defects of which the transferor was aware at the time of the transfer.”  Software providers have expressed concern over the phrase “material hidden defects” and the meanings of the individual words.  There is a fear that litigation against them will increase.  Professor Hillman addresses the issue of section 3.05 in a thorough blog post last summer.  It is worth a read and there are several comments that readers should consider, too.  They highlight the notion that exciting controversy is not just the domain of constitutional law cases at the Supreme Court!

Franklin Delano RooseveltOn this day in history–July 22, 1937–the U.S. Senate rejected the court-packing plan of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) by a vote of 70-20.  After his landslide reelection to a second term as president, FDR proposed to expand the Supreme Court by adding one new justice for every sitting justice over the age of seventy.  This scheme was defeated in Congress, but in his next three terms as president FDR appointed all the members of the Supreme Court, and these new justices were much more aligned with his economic reforms.

For more extensive history on this constitutional battle, these books in the Cornell Law Library will be of interest:

We already know that apps are everywhere, but Online MBA has aggregated some numbers into a slick graphical presentation (below), doing a great job noting its sources at the bottom (albeit in tiny, tiny text). Some of the highlights:

  • Apple maintains a hefty lead with 225,000 apps in its store, but Droid now offers a very respectable 70,000 apps
  • Average price for an app: $3.10
  • Blackberry, still the smart device of choice for lawyers, sells more phones than Apple but has far fewer apps, I think because Blackberry is less developer friendly and the device itself is less conducive to apps (smaller screen, not as good for games, is viewed more as a workhorse and less as a “fun” device)
  • Most downloaded: Crash Bandicoot Nitro Kart 3D

Online MBA
Via: MBA Online

Google ChinaA few months ago it looked like Google might abandon its business operations and Web presence in China, but the situation has changed dramatically.

Some brief background: A sophisticated cyber attack against Google’s technology infrastructure last January was launched from within China, and Google believed that the attack targeted Chinese human-rights activists.  In response Google began automatically re-directing visitors from Google’s censored China search page to its uncensored Hong Kong version.  Google even issued a strongly-worded statement threatening to close its business offices in China.  Google has filtered its Chinese site’s search results since 2006 to comply with Chinese government mandates.

Unsurprisingly, China was not happy with Google’s new strategy.  Google backpedalled somewhat last week by re-establishing  Google now offers less controversial services like music search and text translate from its Chinese page along with a link to its Hong Kong page for regular searching.  China accepted Google’s comprise approach when it renewed Google’s operating license today.

So what do you think of Google’s compromise?  Is it better for Google to continue offering its services, albeit in a modified manner, or should Google have stuck to its guns?

World mapFor researching foreign law, the Cornell Law Library F&I Guide is a time saver and sometimes even a life saver!  This Guide and other guides are available under Research Guides on the Law Library home page.  Use the Guide to start your research or for ideas when you get stuck.  All 192 nations of the world are covered, listed by geographic region under “Foreign Law Sites.”

Once you select the country you want to research, you will see options for “Cornell Law Library Resources” and “Guides and Other Resources,”  but the four links in the brown box may be all you need (described in detail below):

Foreign Law Guide by Reynolds and Flores is the bible for foreign law research.  It is an online subscription resource available through Cornell Law Library and must be accessed via campus computer or through your Cornell ID.  Foreign Law Guide provides background on the history of each country’s legal system and where to find legal resources, both print and online.

Guide to Law Online is a compilation of resources for each country from the Law Library of Congress.  The Guide organizes links under branches of government and links to cases and statutes (among other things), if available.  It is free for everyone.

World Legal Information Institute (WLII) provides online information for countries by topic.  If the information isn’t listed, it is most likely not available online. This Web site is free for everyone.

CIA World Factbook is a respected source for general information about individual countries.  It is a good idea to understand the country’s government and legal system before plunging into foreign law research.  The Web site is free.

Like most online resources, these four generally do not cover information beyond the early 1990s.  For older cases and laws, you will have to look for print resources (use the F&I Guide to find print resources at Cornell Law Library).  It is often difficult to find case law and legislation in English and the information you seek may not be available.  As a last resort, you could call the embassy, a law library, or a law firm in the country you are researching.

Consider using the F&I Guide as a one stop shop for your research needs.  You are always welcome to come to the Reference Desk in the Reading Room for help.

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