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Yet another terrible, ill-reasoned opinion from the court. What a surprise. The pictures/images are in the public domain, and thus anyone can slap them on a t-shirt for fun and profit. The novel is in the public domain, and thus any phrases attributed to the characters can be used (i.e., also slapped on a t-shirt for fun and profit). The court, however, by some bizarre form of reasoning apparently believes that when you mix two public domain items together you can create an infringing product -- a sort of legal alchemy that mixes mercury and lead to create gold for Warner Bros.
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A shocking, terrible idea espoused by a university which awards its graduates a worthless degree at hideously inflated prices . . . wait, that sounds par for the course. It's a difficult proposition to sell your students on the idea of intellectual freedom and instill a love of learning in them for the sake of learning, and then when they stumble across a money-maker tell them all Gollum-like that "the precious" isn't really theirs. It's Property of U. Missouri, because we clothed and fed and schooled ya. Epic fail.
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That's great advice. Unfortunately, most law schools support an arcane idea of legal writing that involves the linguistic equivalent of Twister. Ask any judge how much he dreads digging into yet another stack of briefs that include header points beginning with "Heretofore" and other fulsome phrases and you will get a 10 minute lecture on how poor most legal writing is. It's generally a good idea to say what you mean (and mean what you say) -- judges tend to enjoy forthrightness in a lawyer.
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I recently had a referral that has been calling me every day asking me what she should do about a problem. I've told her I don't represent her, but I think I'm going to have to put it in writing, just to be on the safe side. Sometimes it seems like the practice of law can turn into a bad Michael Douglas movie right in front of your eyes.
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Mar 29, 2010