Google Wins Appeal Decision On Scanning Copyrighted Books

Google has won an appeals decision on its controversial book-scanning practice. New York based U.S. Circuit Court Judge Denny Chin ruled that the practice is “transformative” and does not violate copyright. The Google case hinges on not making the books totally available online. Rather, it allows the material to be searched and provides “snippets.” Thus, the argument goes, the practice is protected by the same “fair use” provisions that allow a book reviewer to use snippets in their reports.
NPR’s report on the decision notes that “… Google began scanning books back in 2004. Many of the works were by living authors. The Authors Guild took legal action against Google, demanding $750 for each book it scanned. Google estimated that it would have cost the company $3 billion.” Google also predicts the service could make older and out-of-print books more relevant.
An appeal to the U.S. Supreme court is promised by the authors and others seeking to protect their work. They argue that, because Google sells ads next to those “snippets” of books, it profits from their work without compensating the copyright holders. See the NPR report here: Judge: Google’s Book Copying Doesn’t Violate Copyright Law

NPR Follow-Up Humanizes Those Border Kids Cases

As the United States punts on its obligation to deal with asylum seeking children on its southern border, a new NPR report follows up on the story of  Jose, no last name or country used for fear of gang retaliation, who is “… one of almost 60,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America now living with family and friends in the United States. Most of the youths are awaiting court hearings to determine whether or not they can stay in the country. Many are also going to school and trying to get settled in new homes and new communities.”
NPR says that “a recent study by Syracuse University found that two-thirds of unaccompanied minors do not have legal representation — and that having it makes a big difference; those with attorneys are far more likely to be allowed to stay in the United States.”
As we have noted before, immigration courts have the look and feel of regular courts, but are actually civil proceedings and the judges are actually Justice Department employees In effect, the “courts” are hearings and NPR quotes one legal-services activist saying “… these kids are facing exile and in some cases death. It’s also very hard to represent yourself pro se when you’re a 10-year-old in a new country and you don’t speak the language.”

Asbestos Litigation Summit Tackles Issues of Trust

CCM Publisher Sara Warner lights up the Huffington Post again with her latest blog. 

The insular and well-heeled world of American asbestos litigation is gathering atop San Francisco’s Nob Hill this week for what amounts to an annual current-events snapshot, and this year things may get a bit testy in the industry triangle of plaintiff attorneys, defense firms and insurance companies. Read More.

Unaccompanied Child Refugee Crisis: Calling Out The Guard

With Texas Governor Rick Perry doubling-down on the “security option” in the wake of an ongoing children’s refugee crisis on the southwestern U.S. border, it might be a decent time to review just how we got to a point of “calling out the National Guard.” Gov. Perry is announcing that he’s sending 1,000 national guard soldiers to the border, says the New York Times, which adds that “… Democrats, including Texas lawmakers in the border region, immediately lined up in opposition to the deployment plan, calling it an attempt to score political points and to militarize the border.”
Of course, for Gov. Perry and others the current crisis around unaccompanied children immigrating from Central America is the latest among ongoing border security issues. But that crisis has focused attention on immigration, and especially immigration of unaccompanied children. National Public Radio, which helped break the story and has been an informational leader, said the situation is “… turning into the largest influx of asylum seekers on U.S. soil since the 1980 Mariel boatlift out of Cuba. Since October, more than 52,000 children — most from Central America and many of them unaccompanied by adults — have been taken into custody. That’s nearly double last year’s total and 10 times the number from 2009.”
“Because of a backlog, which is growing greatly with the recent influx, in essence a kid releasedtomorrow could stay in the U.S. for up to three years waiting for that date,” explains NPR’s Carrie Kahn. “And for most of these kids, that’s three years with a long-lost relative or three years away from extreme poverty and violence.” A child migration advocacy group says that “… as many as 90 percent of the children stay with relatives or family friends already living in the U.S., with the rest placed in foster care…”

Non-Representation Of Immigration Children Sheds Light On System

As reported by the LA Times: Karla Salazar, right, and Ellen Leonard on Tuesday joined nearly 100 demonstrators at the naval base in Port Hueneme, where hundreds of immigrant children are being housed. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

As reported by the LA Times: Karla Salazar, right, and Ellen Leonard on Tuesday joined nearly 100 demonstrators at the naval base in Port Hueneme, where hundreds of immigrant children are being housed. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

In a country where citizens are only vaguely aware that immigration is mostly controlled by civil, not criminal, courts, the ongoing “unaccompanied children” crisis is serving to shed some light on how the civil courts work – or, more exactly, how they sometimes don’t work. Now a coalition of immigration groups has filed a federal lawsuit against the United States over non-representation of these children, The Los Angeles Times is reporting.

The Times reports that “… the immigrant advocacy groups that filed suit are targeting ongoing actions in which immigration officials have initiated proceedings to deport thousands of minors, both recent arrivals as well as those who have lived for years in the United States but without permission. Many of the children never hire attorneys, appearing in court by themselves. Because immigration cases are civil, not criminal proceedings, defendants are not guaranteed the right to legal counsel.”
The immigration groups make the same basic argument that other juvenile advocates make, “… attorneys argue that children are not equipped to represent themselves in serious cases that can determine their future, lacking the intellectual and emotional capacity of adults as well as knowledge of legal remedies that may be available to them.”

Meanwhile, federal authorities say that some of the 243 immigration judges in 59 courts nationwide will be reassigned to hear the cases, either at the border or by video with some new judges appointed temporarily. Clearly, the issue is not going away – read some of the Times’ excellent coverage here.

U.S. sued for not providing attorneys to children in immigration court

NPR Posting Story On Rural Courthouse Closing

National Public Radio is reporting nationally on the closing of a rural Fresno County court, including quoting the presiding judge making the case that budgets left no choice. NPR’s Emily Green reports that “… Gary Hoff, presiding judge of Fresno County Superior Court, says he knew closing the courts would mean some people just wouldn’t go to the courts looking for justice, but that the closures were necessary.
“We knew that closing the courts would deny people in outlying jurisdictions the availability of going to a local courthouse to take care of their business,” he says. “I know others have disagreed with our choice, but financially we could not do anything else but close those courts. We have to live within our budget.”
See how NPR documents the dismantling of our justice system here.