Not only is the Law an ass…

Check this out, and try not to laugh while you read it. Only lawyers could tie themselves up in logical knots about the intellectual property rights of a macaque monkey.

The famous monkey selfie at the heart of the storm (Copyright: David Slater. Or Naruto the monkey. Not sure which) Caption: The Register

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The legal business

A cracking quote from Joshua Fireman, US law firm management consultant:

“We find ourselves using 19th century processes with 20th century technology to solve 21st century problems.”

Source: Legal IT Insider, September 2016. The website is here.

Based on what I have seen in local legal practices, the management processes may even be 18th century.

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What’s it really like in the law?

I keep on eye on developments in my old professional hunting ground, the UK law scene. One site I regularly visit is Roll On Friday. It’s independent, irreverent, and entertaining. Perhaps its major contribution is its Firm of the Year survey, a surefire antidote to the PR view of how good things are, created by the simple approach of asking the staff what their place of employment is really like.

As well as scoring each firm, the survey allows comments. For example:

“If a turd walked into the firm, he/she/it would be a valuable addition to management.”

They’ve really got the workforce with them, don’t they?

“All the staff from the Sheffield Office were asked to leave work by the fire exit on the night of a client party. Presumably they didn’t want the clients seeing their solicitors with holes in their shoes and miserable faces.”

It’s perverse how some jumped up “professionals” can develop and maintain a Victorian workhouse like attitude to the people who actually do the work.

“Wall to wall tossers. Even Brutus would wear a stab proof vest. Some of the senior associates manage to be on their knees for a partner while simultaneously shitting on juniors.”

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

The sad thing is, much of the criticisms are probably true. Check out the firms involved in these quotes, and see some more crackers, here.

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Copyright wrong

The European Court of Justice has decided you cannot protect by copyright the functionality (way of working) of a computer program. So, assuming there is nothing in a computer program which is (or was) truly new – which might be protected by patent law – you may create your own program to copy what any other computer program does, so long as you write your own code.

It means that small startups in Europe will have less to worry about if their IT needs include functionality that somebody else’s pre-existing software has already made available. But the cautious and prudent ones will still be taking advice from an Intellectual Property expert to avoid falling foul of somebody’s patent. There’s a general tendency against patent protection for software in European Law. However, it’s the exact opposite in the USA where patent protection is much more freely granted, (It is then used as some kind of commercial legal warfare by the big players, who see it as a price they need to pay to be taken seriously. Or so I am told.)

There’s a good case report available on the excellent Out-Law website. And there’s a good article on the equally excellent (but, generally, much funnier) Register website.

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