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Judge Lowers Jammie Thomas' Damages to $54,000 390

An anonymous reader writes "Judge Michael Davis has slashed the amount Jammie Thomas-Rassett is said to owe Big Music from almost $2,000,000 to $54,000. 'The need for deterrence cannot justify a $2 million verdict for stealing and illegally distributing 24 songs for the sole purpose of obtaining free music. Moreover, although Plaintiffs were not required to prove their actual damages, statutory damages must still bear some relation to actual damages.' The full decision (PDF) is also available."

Mexico Decriminalizes Small-Scale Drug Possession 640

Professor_Quail notes an AP story that begins, "Mexico enacted a controversial law Thursday decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other drugs while encouraging free government treatment for drug dependency. The law sets out maximum 'personal use' amounts for drugs, also including LSD and methamphetamine. People detained with those quantities will no longer face criminal prosecution when the law goes into effect Friday." An official in the attorney general's office said, "This is not legalization, this is regulating the issue and giving citizens greater legal certainty... for a practice that was already in place." In 2006, the US criticized a similar bill that had no provisions for mandatory treatment, and the then-president sent it back to Congress for reconsideration.
The Courts

Chapter 11 Trustee Appointed For SCO 89

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "The judge overseeing the SCO Chapter 11 bankruptcy case has issued an order appointing a chapter 11 trustee to oversee SCO's operations. However, the judge's reasoning is far from clear. While the judge believes that SCO has 'abandoned rehabilitation' to bet its future on litigation, he doesn't think it appropriate to convert their case to Chapter 7 liquidation. So SCO's management hasn't been fired yet, but they're no longer fully in charge either. It's not clear why the bankruptcy judge opted for this solution, when even the US Trustee was pushing to fire SCO's management and convert the case to Chapter 7. In short, SCO is still only mostly dead, rather than all dead, and in desperate search of a miracle worker."

Blackboard Patent Invalidated By Appellate Court 142

Arguendo writes "A federal appeals court ruled Monday that Blackboard Inc.'s patent on a learning management system is invalid in light of the inventors' own prior software product. We have previously discussed the patent and Blackboard's trial court victory against Desire2Learn. It's not completely over, but this is almost certainly the death knell for Blackboard's patent. If so inclined, you may read the appellate court's decision here (PDF) or on scribd."
The Courts

Judge Tentatively Dismisses Case Against Lori Drew 420

An anonymous reader writes "According to Wired, 'A federal judge on Thursday overturned guilty verdicts against Lori Drew, and issued a directed acquittal on the three misdemeanor charges.'" A similar story in the L.A. Times notes that "The decision by US District Judge George H. Wu will not become final until his written ruling is filed, probably next week." Update: 07/02 21:15 GMT by T : For those not following, Lori Drew's three convictions sprang from charges of online harassment of Megan Meier, a Missouri teenager whose suicide was linked to Drew's actions.
The Courts

MN Supreme Court Backs Reasoned Requests For Breathalyzer Source Code 199

viralMeme writes with news that the Minnesota Supreme Court has upheld the right of drunk-driving defendants to request the source code for the breathalyzer machines used as evidence against them, but only when the defendant provides sufficient arguments to suggest that a review of the code may have an impact on the case. In short: no fishing expeditions. The ruling involves two such requests (PDF), one of which we've been covering for some time. In that case, the defendant, Dale Underdahl simply argued that to challenge the validity of the charges, he had to "go after the testing method itself." The Supreme Court says this was not sufficient. Meanwhile, the other defendant, Timothy Brunner, "submitted a memorandum and nine exhibits to support his request for the source code," which included testimony from a computer science professor about the usefulness of source code in finding voting machine defects, and a report about a similar case in New Jersey where defects were found in the breathalyzer's source code. This was enough for the Supreme Court to acknowledge that an examination of the code could "relate to Brunner's guilt or innocence."

French Assembly Rejects Three Strikes Bill 129

An anonymous reader writes "The French Assembly has rejected the Three Strikes bill (in French!) which would allow ISPs to cut off users found to have been downloading protected content after two warnings. Summary: the Sarkozy administration can go back with a new draft for approval by both chambers or try to get upper house approval of a softer version without the cutoff passed by the lower house."

Obama To Reverse Bush Limits On Stem Cell Work 508

An anonymous reader sends this quote from the Associated Press: "Reversing an eight-year-old limit on potentially life-saving science, President Barack Obama plans to lift restrictions Monday on taxpayer-funded research using embryonic stem cells. ... Under President George W. Bush, taxpayer money for that research was limited to a small number of stem cell lines that were created before Aug. 9, 2001, lines that in many cases had some drawbacks that limited their potential usability. But hundreds more of such lines — groups of cells that can continue to propagate in lab dishes — have been created since then, ones that scientists say are healthier, better suited to creating treatments for people rather than doing basic laboratory science. Work didn't stop. Indeed, it advanced enough that this summer, the private Geron Corp. will begin the world's first study of a treatment using human embryonic stem cells, in people who recently suffered a spinal cord injury. Nor does Obama's change fund creation of new lines. But it means that scientists who until now have had to rely on private donations to work with these newer stem cell lines can apply for government money for the research, just like they do for studies of gene therapy or other treatment approaches."
The Courts

Ted "A Series of Tubes" Stevens Found Guilty 565

techmuse writes "According to a series of tubes sites, Senator Ted Stevens has been found guilty of lying about free home renovations that he received from an oil contractor. He faces up to 5 years in jail, and the outcome of his current reelection bid is now in doubt. 'The conviction came after a tumultuous week in the jury room. First there were complaints about an unruly juror, then another had to be replaced when she left Washington following the death of her father. Finally, jurors on Monday discovered a discrepancy in the indictment that had been overlooked by prosecutors. Jury deliberations in this historic trial have at times been as contentious as some of the proceedings The Justice Department indicted Stevens on July 29, and the Alaska Republican took a huge legal gamble and asked for a speedy trial in order to resolve the charges before Election Day. Judge Emmet Sullivan complied with Stevens' request, and in less than three months from the time of his indictment, Stevens was found guilty.'"
The Courts

Workplace BlackBerry Use May Spur Lawsuits 286

An anonymous reader writes "From an article on 'As employers hand out electronic devices to their employees at a greater pace, there are growing concerns that workers eligible for overtime pay, known as non-exempt employees, could begin suing their employers for overtime hours earned while tapping on their devices during after-work hours. As a result, lawyers are advising their corporate clients to update their policies and handbooks related to BlackBerry use and reconsider who gets a device.'"
The Courts

RIAA's Boston University Subpoena Quashed 39

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "As first reported by p2pnet, the motion to quash the RIAA's subpoena seeking identities of Boston University students has been granted, at least for the moment. In a 52-page opinion (pdf) the Judge concluded that she could not decide whether or not to quash until she had seen the college's 'Terms of Service Agreement' for internet service. It was only then she could decide what 'expectation of privacy' the students had. She quashed the subpoena calling for the student identities, and told them they could go ahead with a subpoena just for the terms of service agreement. Interestingly the decision was issued on the very same day as the judge in Elektra v. Barker came to some of the same conclusions."

Wikileaks Gets Domain Back, Injunction Dissolved 70

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "The judge in the Wikileaks case has dissolved the injunction against Wikileaks, which means that it can get its .org domain back. He defended his prior ruling because it was based on the pittance of information the bank and registrar had provided him, saying 'This is a case in which we had a (dispute) with named parties, and the parties were duly served. One of which properly responded and came to this court with a proposed settlement in this lawsuit... Nobody filed any timely responses to the court's order.'"

German Court Abolishes German Snooping Law 201

Robert writes to mention that Germany's highest court has imposed limitations on the amount of spying governmental bodies can do on a suspect's computer. The ruling comes in response to a state law on North Rhine Westphalia that had allowed secret services to peer into a citizen's computer. "Court President Hans-Juergen Papier said that using such software contravened rights enshrined in Germany's constitution, adding that the decision would serve as a precedent across the country. The ruling emphasized that cyber spying by the authorities would have to receive the permission of a judge. The German government has described cyber spying as a vital tool in fighting terrorism."

"Survey says..." -- Richard Dawson, weenie, on "Family Feud"