Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Dean H*rshen just sent out an update about Polly, who's been on medical leave for a while:
Dear students,

Some of you have been asking about Polly. After consulting with Polly and her family, Mind* and I wanted to let you know that Polly is gravely ill and unlikely to recover. She has a very aggressive form of cancer that has progressed rapidly. Many of you have asked what you can do and if you would like to drop off a card for Polly, we will be taking them to her. This is a very sad time for us and we know it may be difficult for some of you as well. If you would like to talk about this, please feel free to come by our office.

Best regards,
Dean H*rshen
For those who don't know, Polly is the friendly lady in student services who works with M*ndi and Dean H*rshen. She's the person who you talk to when you dropped off your BHSA reimbursement requests, fill out those pink forms to get card access to a journal office, or pick up facebooks (the physical ones). She also has candy in her office.

When I was on BHSA, I often had to work with Polly to schedule meetings and handle event logistics. She was kind, funny, and helpful, which is really all you can ask of someone.

I know there are people passing around cards for students to sign. If you're one of them, would you mind posting in the comments about when and where the signing is happening?

Update (1/30): Polly has passed away. The following e-mailing was sent out today:
Dear Students,

I am very sad to let you know that Polly Paterson passed away this weekend. As you know, Polly had a very aggressive illness and her health deterioated rapidly in the last week. Her entire family was able to be with her last week and they were a wonderful source of support for her. I was able to deliver all of the cards you gave us last week and Polly received them before she passed away. If you have cards for Polly, please continue to drop them off with us. We will give them to her family members, who I know will appreciate hearing how much the community supported her.

We will be having a memorial service for Polly at the Law School and as soon as we have more details, I will let you know. There will be a funeral for Polly and as soon as I have those details, I will let you know as well. Polly's family has let us know that anyone from the school is welcome to attend the funeral.

As Polly's illness was so aggressive, many of us have had very little time to process what has happened. Everyone expresses their grief differently and your reactions may be impacted depending on your relationship with Polly, if you have experienced other recent losses, or if it is a significantly stressful time in your life. What is important is to support each other in the days and weeks ahead. We know that many of you will get comfort from your friends and family. However, talking to a professional counselor can also be helpful if you have strong feelings or if you are concerned about your reactions in any way. For students interested in support please contact: Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) located at the Tang Center. If you would like to talk to a counselor, call 510-642-9494. Students can also be seen on a drop-in basis between 10am-5pm.

Of course, please feel free to come by our office and talk to either me or M*ndi if you would like to talk more about what has happened.

Best regards,

Dean H*rshen

Friday, January 20, 2012

SOPA / PIPA Update

Two quick follow-ups to Wednesday's online blackout:

First, in the face of tremendous opposition, both SOPA and PIPA have been put on hold. Yay Internet!

Second, the day after the online protests, the Department of Justice took down the MegaUpload file locker based on allegations of piracy and is now pursuing a criminal case, even without SOPA / PIPA. If everything in the indictment is true, things don't look good for MegaUpload.

But the DOJ's actions are extremely questionable from a due process perspective. MegaUpload was making efforts to comply with DMCA takedown notices. MegaUpload had also filed a complaint in a U.S. Federal Court against the Universal Music Group for abusing the DMCA takedown process. The allegations in the DOJ's indictment resemble the claims Viacom made in a civil action against YouTube, and in which YouTube has so far prevailed. In short, there's no good  reason why the government had to pursue a criminal case and unilaterally take down the sites. These claims could have been resolved with a civil action and preliminary injunction, which would have provided for an adversarial hearing prior to shutting down the site. As it is, it gives the unfortunate impression that the DOJ is acting as a hired gun for the MPAA.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Why SOPA and PIPA Are Bad News

Wikipedia, Google, and a number of other sites (including Tort Bunnies) have blacked out or partially censored themselves to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate. The two bills would establish a "Great Firewall of America" to block access to foreign websites that infringe upon American intellectual property rights.

A few reasons for why the bills are bad:

First, the blocking would be overbroad. Proponents of the bills argue that the bills are narrowly targeted at infringing content. Unfortunately, infringing content is frequently "bundled" with non-infringing content. For instance, it's technically difficult to censor the parts of your Facebook news feed that violate copyright law without blocking Facebook altogether. Yet because the bills penalize Internet intermediaries who under-censor but immunize those who over-censor, even a narrowly tailored court order would likely result in the take-down of perfectly legal content.

Moreover, the U.S. government hasn't exactly shown a great deal of competence in discriminating between legal and illegal sites. For example, DHS recently seized the domain name for the Dajaz1 blog on the grounds that site was dedicated to violating copyright laws. But DHS never filed charges or initiated court forfeiture proceedings. It took over a year before DHS admitted it made a mistake and returned the domain name to its owner. That's under existing laws. Give the government an even bigger hammer, and more sites will start to look like nails.

Second, the anti-circumvention provisions would hurt human rights activists. SOPA would criminalize the distribution of technology that could be used to circumvent the Great Firewall of America. But that same technology is also used to circumvent the Great Firewall of China. From a political perspective, there's a huge difference between censoring the Wikipedia article about the Tiananmen Square protests and censoring The Pirate Bay. But from a technical perspective, there's none. In going after pirates, SOPA and PIPA would trample all over the community of developers assisting political dissidents in countries like China and Iran.

Finally, the bills would make the Internet less secure. Some of the proposed measures would mess around with the inner workings of the Internet's domain name system (DNS). One proposal would let the Attorney General redirect all requests for a pirate website to go to a special page notifying users that the website was taken down. Unfortunately, there's little technical difference between that and redirecting all requests for a banking website to a special page that steals your password. In effect, SOPA would break technology designed to protect your personal information and online identity.

So ... bad news all around. To learn more, visit And call your Senators and Representatives!

Friday, January 13, 2012

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Little known fact: we get lots of spam comments here at N&B. We do our best to stay on top of deleting it because generally it truly is most worthless – strange computer-generated references to internet relationships that bear no connection to anything in which anyone would be interested. Ever.

But every now and then our spam – for unknowable computer-generated reasons – strikes a chord. Every now and then, for reasons understandable only to the internets, the run-of-the mill spam at N&B manages to be just, well, perfect.

Exhibit A, from the Onceling thread:
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From whence did this comment originate? Who knows?

It was posted by "英文seo", who plainly and undoubtedly is a scrupulous N&B follower and front-row disciple of esteemed Professor B's public land seminars. Beyond that we will leave it to you, dear reader, to pontificate in the comments.


Friday, January 06, 2012

Removal is for Nerds

For those of you who just finished taking CivPro, maybe you were already aware of this. For everyone else, on December 7 Obama signed into law the Federal Courts Jurisdiction and Venue Clarification Act of 2011, H.R. 394, P.L. 112-63.

The Act significantly modifies the situations in which a defendant may revove cases under both federal question and diversity jurisdiction. Linked to this article is a brief summary.

In even briefer summary:

-The 30 day removal clock now runs for each defendant when they are served, which resolved a circuit split. The Ninth Circuit rule was the same as the new codified one.

-Treatment of resident aliens: The Act clarifies that resident aliens are not citizens for diversity purposes. In other words, two aliens suing each other and are domiciled in different states cannot invoke diversity jurisdiction.

-The Act clarifies that corporations are citizens of both their state of incorporation and their primary place of business.

-District Courts will no longer have discretion to decide unrelated state law claims following removal. This is a significant departure: Before this change courts had the discretion to keep a case intact even where state law claims were entirely unrelated to federal questions. Now the case will be severed unless a court has supplemental jurisdiction under section 1367.

-Now codified is the widely-accepted rule that all defendants must consent to removal, except in class actions.

There are also numerous venue changes, which I will let others explain. My personal opinion is that V*tter will have to come up with some new jokes next semester.