Thursday, June 23, 2011
ICANN is an acronym for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. ICANN is the global body that oversees the Internet address system
ICANN takes the 'no unfair competition' to the limits. When issuing new top level domains, the rules apply for confusing the consumer and confusingly similar domain suffixes are verboten. So, for example, if Martindale Hubbell snagged .lawyers, Thomson Reuters would be blocked permanently from acquiring .lawyer as a suffix.
Like the move to IPV6 that will expand the quantity of Internet addresses available, the move towards 'keyword TLD's' is slow because both have profound worldwide impacts.
For those for whom ICANN is most concerned - the financial industry, global manufacturers such as .coke - the cost of acquiring a TLD is minimal compared to others that seek more generic TLD's. The application fee that Coca-cola can expect to pay for the .coke suffix, or Pepsi for the .pepsi suffix, is $185,000. Those types of suffix-seekers can also expect to pay about another $100,000 in setup fees and annual maintenance fees of $100,000.
For those who will be seeking the generic TLD's, the application process differs. Where Pepsi wouldn't be allowed to acquire the .coke suffix on the basis of unfair competitive marketing practices, a fact that the Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge missed in the Habush keyword case, ICANN will accept all applications for those seeking generic terms. If Lexis' group provides a profound purpose for owning the .law suffix that is equally met in purpose by Thomson-Reuter's application, ICANN will force the competing entities into auction. At that point, the sky is the limit and a suffix such as .law might go for multiples of millions of dollars.
But what does this all mean to the small law firm (Habush is small compared to Baker-McKenzie just as Van Wagner & Wood and Brandau & Waltz are small compared to Habush)?
ICANN policy prohibits competing entities from acquiring the same suffixes or confusingly similar suffixes; that policy is emphasized and brought into the light more now as it will be over the next three years as these new suffixes roll out to remind the Chief Justices that hear appeals such as Habush's forthcoming appeal in the confusing keyword case that unfair competitive practices can be easily defined and proscribed. If the Appellate Court judges (or Supreme Court Justices, as the case may be for Habush) reverse Milwaukee's decision, it will give the small law firm protection.
Additionally, where the suffixes '.com', '.biz', '.pro' are specifically intended for all commercial, business and professional concerns respectively, and '.edu and '.gov' for example are restricted, the intended purpose of suffixes such as .law or .lawyers will be defined by the winning applicant or bidder unless ICANN restricts the new suffix.
CNN on the Generic Dot Com: http://money.cnn.com/2011/06/20/technology/dot_brand_domain_name_icann/index.htm
Global Radio: http://www.rferl.org/content/icann_has_censorship/24244549.html
Milwaukee Circuit Court: http://county.milwaukee.gov/CourtServices7714/ClerkHomePage.htm
Friday, June 17, 2011
The case is of Habush, Habush & Rottier vs. Cannon & Dunphy (ABA Journal), both of whom are Wisconsin PI firms. Cannon purposefully used the names of the attorneys at the Habush firm as keywords in its pay-per-click campaigns on search engines.
Keywords are triggers; each campaign contains keywords that trigger the related advertisements. A campaign manager can target just search engines or include the search engine’s network composed of high traffic/profile websites such as CNN, YouTube, etc.
In this case, when searchers conducted a search on a search engine or on a network site for any of the attorneys’ names at the Habush firm, Cannon’s ads would appear and link to the Cannon website.
Habush attorneys claimed a violation of their privacy; the court concurred that Cannon was indeed violating the privacy of those attorneys, but the judge rationalized that the violation was no different than placing the advertisements of the Habush firm and the Cannon firm next to one another in a yellow pages book. Both parties claimed unclean hands; judge concurred.
Habush’s appeal may reverse the Milwaukee Court judge, but until and unless it does, the gateways holding trademark infringing marketing tactics like these at bay just got lifted.
Notably, Google previously prohibited that type of conduct; now, Google declines to investigate trademark abuse in keywords; they will continue to investigate it in the text (or graphics) of advertisements.
Applying the Milwaukee Court judge’s logic, there’s little reach from keywords in search engine campaigns to keywords in metadata on a website, and then only a short reach to other forms of trademark infringements.
Sigma’s words of wisdom:
1. Your main website is on a ‘.com’; at minimum, you should also own the lease on the .net version, and may want to include other top level domain leases, such as .org, .biz. Ensure that you own the license for domains that depict your trade names, such as:
a. YourFullLegalName.com and .net (e.g. ChristopherTVanWagner.com, .net)
b. YourCommonName.com and .net (e.g. ChrisVanWagner.com, .net)
c. YourFirmsLegalName.com and .net (e.g. VanWagnerWoodSC.com, .net)
d. YourFirmsCommonName.com and .net (e.g. VanWagnerAndWood.com, .net)
e. YourFirmsMarketedName.com and .net (e.g. VanWagnerWood.com, .net)
2. Remember that keyword-intensive domain names (e.g. trademark-attorney.com) fail trademark protection rules
How did Cannon achieve getting their advertisements to display when people were searching for a Habush firm attorney?
Cannon setup numerous pay-per-click campaigns in the various search engines. They then selected the names of the attorneys at Habush and the Habush law firm name as keywords to trigger the campaign’s advertisements. They expanded their breadth of exposure to include all search engines and networks. When a search was conducted on the search engines for Habush’s firm or an attorney there, Cannon’s ads displayed. Cannon’s ads linked to Cannon’s websites.
Previously, search engines monitored the use of trade names and trademarks in two ways: in keywords and in ad text; they prohibited trademark infringement by prohibiting the use of trademarks and trade names without permission, and stated that they would close paid campaign accounts for violations. Those protections have changed. Google, for example, no longer will investigate the use of a trade name or trademark as a keyword.
Response to ABA Journal comment by Pul-lease:
The comment condemns Habush for having not thought of this first.
The court said that both parties came with unclean hands.
The comment continues to condemn Habush for having failed to buy his rights to the name keywords to prevent Cannon from directly targeting them.
In pay-per-click programs, the rights to keywords cannot be bought out. Pay-per-click programs use keywords for bidding purposes. Notably, the rights to keywords also cannot be bought in organic results.
We’re hopeful of a reversal on appeal; in the meantime, it’s a free for all on your names… keep a watch, please.
Sidebar – We disagree with the Milwaukee Court judge; his rationale fails. We also find Cannon & Dunphy’s behavior deceptive and underhanded. Since the court commented that both plaintiff and respondent came with unclean hands, we’ll note that we don’t condone either party’s actions along this vein. Cannon & Dunphy’s campaign was run by a relative of the one of their attorneys (Halloran); Habush’s campaign was run by the Search Engine Guys.
Fowled Rationale, Judge: He found that buying a competitor’s name as a keyword in a pay-per-click campaign paralleled placing an advertisement in the yellow pages, both pitting one firm against another side-by-side. Yellow page headings are generic (e.g. Attorney or a subheading, Personal Injury). Generic keywords such as attorney or personal injury would parallel the placement in a yellow pages book, but specific headings such as ‘Robert Habush’ or ‘Dan Rottier’ do not.
The judge relied on advertising rules that provide that advertisements may not mislead a consumer wrongfully (such as to place, person, product, time or price). Habush sued for invasion of privacy. Next, the judge concluded that a savvy online software shopper wouldn’t be mistaken. Last I read the reasonable person test, Mr./Mrs. Reasonable Person weren’t software shoppers. If we take that a step further, the fact remains that the majority of Internet users are common consumers. Lastly, the judge determined that folks wouldn’t be confused by reaching Mr. Halloran’s profile when looking for Mr. Habush's profile, for example. Perhaps a poll would help.
Our best wishes to Mr. Habush on his appeal.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
The Metadata of a website can contain numerous values, but it has long been held that there are three that are key to success: Title, Description and Keywords.
The 'title tag' is the metadata value that appears as the title of the webpage in the search engine results pages. It's true purpose is to get visitors to your website. While changing the position of words or changing words in a title tag can have a profound effect on the webpage's positions in the search engine results pages, it may surprise you to know that it can be inconsequential. For example, if your webpage content is focused on 'umbrellas' and your title tag is 'Oreo Cookies Recipes', search engines will index the page relative to umbrellas. If you omit the title tag (not a good thing to do by the way), search engines will still index the page relative to the content.
The 'description tag' is the metadata value that succulently describes the subject matter of the content on the page. Search engines such as Google optionally determine whether to use your description, and more frequently provide the description sometimes acquiring it from a not-for-profit directory (http://www.dmoz.org/). A description tag is no longer required; the first paragraph content on each page of your website should sufficiently provide a description of that page's content.
The 'keywords tag' is the metadata value that lists the keywords for which you hope to optimize the page for and get it indexed on with the search engines, but it is a rather useless tag for search engines as few use the tag. Google does not use the keywords tag. Directories sometimes use the keywords tag.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
The answer to that question would be a question: matter to what? Does it matter to its price (such as during a domain reseller bid or in the negotiations to dissolve a company)? Does it matter to its ability to perform online?
Domain Age Factor For Price or Not?
A midlife (about 5-6 years old) or elderly (about 10-12 years) domain is valuable if:
- the domain has been used to market online with a focus that parallels your intent to use that domain, and
- the domain has gained online authority and ranks well in the search engines, and
- the domain has not been the subject of spam to the search engines or with email, and
- there is some assurance that the current links to the domain won't be dropped when you buy it.
It isn't the mere age of a domain that determines its value; rather, it is the level of achievement towards the objective of the domain (thus the website at the domain) that determines value. Consequently, a new domain can have the same value as an old domain.
While the mere age of a domain shouldn't influence price, there are other factors that may influence it greatly such as the keywords in the domain, which can greatly influence online success if the website at that domain did well. If the domain contains keywords that you intend to trademark or use in your business to describe your business activities, the value may be much higher to you than others.
Does the age of the domain play a part in its online success?
If an older domain and a new domain compete head on, all factors parallel (same topics, like keywords in the domain, like back links, similar but not duplicate content, and like size), the website with the older domain will fair better competitively at least for a period of time.
Search engines such as Google inform new domain owners that they should expect a period of at least 6 months (and customarily can take up to 12 months) for a website to be indexed and take its place in the search engine results.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
- Did you originate the material for which you want to claim a copyright under copyright law?
- Did you hire another person under a "work-for-hire" agreement to create material for you?
- Did you create the material that is to be protected by copyright law from other materials with proper citations to the other published original works?
If you answered "yes" to the above questions, the chances are good that you own the copyright, but there are exceptions.
- Originator. Under copyright law, you can claim a copyright so long as you originated the material. If you answered "yes" to the question, then you need only put that material into a fixed medium and stake your claim. Copyright law no longer requires an originator to publish the material; rather, a copyright is established upon creation in a fixed medium. Ideas, thoughts or even manuscripts that are idealized, but not put into a fixed medium cannot be copyright protected. A fixed medium includes any medium that can preserve the material such as a word document, a website, or on paper or in a paper tablet. If you were not the originator, then you cannot claim a copyright until and unless the copyright is transferred to you from its originator.
- Work-for-hire. Under copyright law, you can hire another person to create material on your behalf so long as that was the intended agreement before the material was created. A work-for-hire agreement must be in writing, signed by both parties and explicitly state the event upon which the copyright is transferred (usually upon final payment). Under contract law, your agreement must be in writing if it valued at more than $1,000.00, cannot be completed within one year, or is between a non-business person and a business or legal entity, even if it is not a work-for-hire. Note that the mere provision of "notes" or an outline for the person creating the content under a work-for-hire agreement does NOT create a copyright for you in the final material created from your notes or outlines.
- Works from other works. Anyone who copies material from a website and republishes the copied material or materials on their own website violates copyright law. See Digital Millenium Act of 1998, or Google on DMCA law. Copying content on the web parallels copying someone else's test in law school - it will get you taken out of the game. Copying another's content and making changes to it is plagarism. Basically, if you cannot create it anew, don't create it. In addition to "creating" a civil tort albiet copying or plagarizing content for which you might get sued, and violating federal law, copying content on the web creates duplicative content on two (or more) websites the results of which will be a duplicative content error that will result in one or both websites falling in the rankings for searches relative to the duplicated content. Duplicative content can also cause greater harm; for example, repeat offenders can be banned from search results. You should create rules for handling copyright infringments (some suggestions are provided below).
The penalty for filing a false DMCA complaint is $100,000.
Search engines are not in the business of mediating between competitors, nor refereeing in spamming wars. If you file complaints with the search engines that are barely-true, false or part and parcel a spamming war with a competitor, the chances are very good that you won't like the outcome. Do not file a complaint with any search engine without having first contacted the owner of the website you claim is infringing upon your copyright with a request to take the duplicative content down. A complaint should only be filed with the search engines when you have exhausted the remedies below so as to avoid appearances of a spam war.
If your website content is duplicated, change the content immediately, and contact the webmaster of the site that is infringing upon your copyright to ask that the content be imemdiately removed (within 24 or 48 hours). Once it is removed, you can restore your original content. If the webmaster fails to remove it, issue a cease and desist demand to the owner and webmaster. If that still fails to get the duplicated content taken down, file a DMCA complaint. We strongly suggest hiring an experienced Intellectual Property Attorney.
Friday, May 1, 2009
Myers, Boebel & MacLeod
Patent Litigation, Minneapolis MN, Nationwide
Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C.
Madison & Milwaukee Wisconsin, Nationwide
Von Briesen & Roper
Madison, Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha & Mequon Wisconsin - Nationwide
Michael Best & Friedrich LLP
Wilhelm Intellectual Property Firm
Friday, September 26, 2008
As I look back on those times, they are fondly recalled as some of the most courageous, adventurous and brain energizing days of my life, and there is one man that holds a shining light - my former professor, my former boss, my mentor and my friend, Professor Hal Dorf. And there is one woman whom all who have known Hal have come to love and adore, his bride, Miss Arlene. (She's been his "bride" for some 25 years plus =).
I'm sure I would not speak out of turn to say that every one of us holds the highest regard, greatest respect and a lifelong admiration for Hal, and for Arlene. We would say that we also hold the deepest debt of gratitude, but Hal would tell us that the glory belongs to us.
Hal and Arlene lead a life of example. Hal earned his undergraduate degree at NMU, and his masters at IMEDE (Lausaunne, Switzerland). He formed an alliance with Thunderbird College (Arizona) that led to an alliance between the NMU College of Business students and Thunderbird's Inernational Studies programs. He mentored students into coaches, and coaches into mentors. Together, Hal and Arlene have shown us deep devotion, what it means to stand beside your spouse, and that united - anything is possible. They have shown us that believing in the good in people will rise them to the call, that calling people to fulfill their dreams will benefit multitudes, and that life isn't about cramming people into little boxes on a hillside - it's about freeing people to their own excellence.
(I developed a process for projects in reflection of their lives, "Get by Giving" - which by the way is the way the Internet works best!)
Tonight, when I thanked him for touching my and my family's life through his wonderful teachings, he reminded me that it was not him who taught me, but rather me who taught him - he merely opened the door - we walked through. That's so typical of Hal - he always gives the glory to the man in the arena, the one sweating blood to make a dream come true. But we, all of "us" know that it was his belief in us that made things possible.
It is an honor to know him, and privilege to have walked with him. Thank you, Hal.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
If you haven't heard, FindLaw got busted by Google for breaking the cardinal rule: selling links.
The reason that the term "got busted" has been used to describe FindLaw's action is because it has forever and a day been against Google guidelines and rules for any website owner (or the company in charge of managing it - in this case, FindLaw) to sell links to other website owners. The primary objective of such links is to "pass link juice" from one website to another. "Link juice" is simply explained as passing the authority that one website has earned/gained in Google's eyes onto another website - much like you would refer a client to another lawyer along with your glowing remarks. The more authority you have in the legal community, the greater the weight of your referral. The same applies online.
Many BLOG's have posted the FindLaw bust, and shamed FindLaw for having sold links. I concur, it was a shameful act because FindLaw holds itself out as being an authority in the legal marketing industry; therefore, they knew or should have know that it was wrong, but they chose to do it anyway. What they did is "against the rules" and perhaps better known as "greed." The person responsible for that choice is their search engine marketing manager, but that responsibility must be shared by all of his managers - somebody has to have the courage to say "it is wrong" and "the buck stops here" in corporate America. The SEM manager knew both that it was wrong and that he could gain leverage in the search engine results by releasing small inventories of "link juice" and selling them at high dollars. One report by a former FindLaw manager said they pulled in nearly 1 billion from selling links. As a FindLaw competitor, I'm not in favor of them making money through massive projects such as those, but my views go to the ethical side of their choice.
They broke Google's rules, that's a given, and it is up to Google to hold the line on their rule prohibiting the selling of links by properly punishing FindLaw and all websites that participated in the game, or forever appear the empty threat or institutional mongrel that they have forever denied. Of course, such punishment would have to be bestowed upon their many other URL's, such as the thomson.com marketing campaign they launched almost immediately upon "getting busted" for selling links for FindLaw.com.
But the most concerning wrong here is the deceit: FindLaw deceived the lawyers that entrusted FindLaw to market them online ethically. We are not talking about ethics in legal marketing here, folks, but rather webmaster ethics - the heart of any business intending to market online. FindLaw claims to be a webmaster to law firm sites; FindLaw is a member of the same organizations that I am a member - organizations that preach the good guidelines to follow; they knew that selling links was wrong, and yet they concealed the possible harm from their clients. Some FindLaw representatives have posted claims that they did not know. That would not surprise me - the representatives are not trained in search engine optimization; they are trained in selling; they aren't trained in search engine marketing; they are trained to regurgitate talking points to drive the sale to close. Now, there are many reps that truly care about their clients, but that care is constrained by the product offerings that FindLaw makes available to them. Even so, most reps likely don't understand the technical side of marketing online, so they likely are not to blame for having deceived the lawyers that took part in the selling links program. Conspiracy would likely be proven if the challenge were there, but in my humble opinion, that responsibility goes to the managers.
Other BLOG's have indicated that FindLaw didn't do anything wrong, stating that FindLaw charged for links on its high ranking pages much like any other directory. In part, FindLaw has always sought to leverage select clients with links; that was done long ago, and is apparent online. Google has already noted those links. The actual "sales of links" broke known Google rules because the links are wrong because of FindLaw's "other acts" and "object intent". Those other acts included positioning the high ranking web pages to leverage other websites and host links to those sites after the links were purchased. In other words, FindLaw did not link to authorities in the legal industry because of those attorneys' past trial record or years of experience, nor did they seek to help people find a key piece of information, but rather, they linked to those sites without the proper programming behind the link that would indicate to search engines that the link was not intended to pass link juice to that site. The object intent is evident - boost the page rank of the client site, albeit unethical ways. So, FindLaw's claim that they don't do whatever it takes to win is disproved; they do, even unethical acts proven when they "got busted".
And yet other BLOG's have depicted the outrage of webmasters in the legal community at Google for having done nothing to FindLaw, despite the long standing Google threat of doom to anyone who sells links to pass link juice. I believe that the webmasters of the world have covered this well, and I wholeheartedly agree that Google should hold FindLaw accountable for their intended objective. By doing so, Google would not penalize directories as a whole - directories are good, they help us find information - but rather penalize those whose object intent it is to do something that they know should not be done. If it were anyone else, perhaps even lawyers.com, the penalty would be 6 months in the brig (i.e. Google Sandbox). I can understand why webmasters are outraged.
Results (top rankings in Google) go to those who play by the rules and work for the placement - they get by giving valuable information to the users of the Internet.
Interestingly enough, another BLOG post I ran across indicated that FindLaw was switching websites periodically. It stated that FindLaw would post your website, and then swap it periodically with another nearly duplicate site. The purpose of the swapping was to trick search engines into believing that the site had new content. In other words, another means of deception.
I wouldn't recommend swapping up websites to try to trick Google into believing that you posted new content. I do recommend doing the work - i.e. write the content!
We always ask our clients to tell us if they are involved in any other online marketing for this very reason. We do not participate in nor want anything to do with paid linking programs. We also don't knowingly link with FindLaw websites because it has long been rumoured in the webmaster community that they practice less than ethical search engine marketing - I believe I first heard of FindLaw selling links some 12 months ago through a company in Florida that has since been sold.
So, what can you do as a law firm who has a contract with FindLaw? Ask for a report of all inbound links to your site, and then ask for a report on any of those links which would qualify as "paid links" or "unethical practices" under the "Google guidelines" - then ask to have those links removed. In any case, at least then you will have the foundation of material upon which you relied.
And how can you tell if your site is being swapped-up? Make changes to specific words, sentences or paragraphs, and then print it off. Follow up by checking those changes to see if they disappear. One attorney in Green Bay reported that he had made changes to his website, but then some months later, those changes were "un-made". That result may indicate that the site was swapped-up. You could also just ask FindLaw...
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Dominator defined by Merriam Webster
Latin dominatus, past participle of dominari, from dominus master; akin to Latin domus house — more at dome
transitive verb1: rule, control
— dom·i·na·tive \-ˌnā-tiv\ adjective
Friday, February 1, 2008
Al Gore was instrumental in backing legislation that permitted commercial communications to flow over the government sponsored backbones in the United States. Al Gore envisioned the vital impact that the commercial sector could realize through Internet communications. If he had not backed and pushed through the legislation that allowed the NSF to grow, it is possible that the Internet would have been detained many years and many current electronic communications and commerce exchanges would not exist. It was through Gore's legislation that the commercial sector in the United States grew on the Internet.
From that legislation, Pack and Radio, Pack and Satellite, and ARPANET were developed to further develop and test each of the radio transmissions, mobile-type transmissions and wire transmissions respectively. In 1979, the first tests were conducted successfully (at 100 kilobits per second =). VoIP was tested at that time over a 50 kilobits communication stream through what could be described as compressed methods. The three bands were combined in 1977.
In part, those tests, the original foundation of the net, and the net today carry a common thread that is often called Net Neutrality - freedom of use, speech, commerce and interactivity.
Saturday, January 5, 2008
If so, here are a couple of things to check out.
First, CS3 provides automatic synchronization, so check first to see if you are synchronizing on the fly, and if so, disable synchronization until you correct the sharing violation issue. It may not be the cause, but it can be problematic. Also check your server setup; if you are running a testing server, then your current site or page may be trying to access the test server, and a failure will create a sharing violation. If that doesn't work, go next.
Next, you might try minimizing your screens to look for an alert. In every occurrence of a sharing violation that I have seen, the culprit was the temporary file, which is created because of leftover's in memory (on scratch) when you move from one file to another. Cancel the action. Test. If that doesn't work, go next.
Next, go into site management, and reveal all hidden files. Then look for a TMP file. These are the result of the above paragraph. They are duplicate files created when the first item occurs or when you have multiple sites open (there may be other situations that cause the temporary files to be created, but these two are predominate). Delete the temporary files. Test. If that doesn't work, go next.
Next, clear cache. If that doesn't work, reboot. CS3 creates its own conflicts...
Monday, December 31, 2007
Asia - about 460 million (12%) of the population and growing quickly.
Europe - About 338 million (42%) of the population.
North America - about 235 million (71%) of the population.
Latin America - about 116 million (21%).
Middle East - about 34 million (17%).
Oceania - 19 million (55%)
Africa - 44 million (5%)
Total - about 1.25 million (19%) of the world is online.
Source - Google, 2007.
As we bid 2007 good-bye and bring in 2008, the numbers above are noteworthy. Regardless of your location, the Internet either is or will play a major role in your marketing scheme. For law firms in the United States, it is an integral part of marketing plans and strategies. Whether you rely on PEW Standard statistics or those above, over 70% of the U.S.A. is online.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
- 10 million + Americans have a BLOG
- Readership up by 50% in past 10 years
- Informs current clients, attracts potential clients, markets legal services
- Gen X'ers [people aged 28-42] and Millennials [people aged 27 or younger] judge attorneys by their web presence
- Madison lawyer Tracey Wood has a blog, and she agrees with Pinnington. "Our blogs have helped us establish more of a presence on the Internet. People do not look for attorneys in the yellow pages anymore - they find them through referrals and Internet searches."
- Attorney Wood receives referrals from her website and BLOG regularly
- Spend the time to post to it regularly
- BLOG establishes expertise in a particular area of law if that lawyer puts up content that is current, informative, and insightful
The article provides the following categorization of BLOGS: information or advisory formats, and makes the following assessments.
- Advisory BLOGS give legal advice and risk establishing an attorney-client relationship; conversely, informational BLOGS add a voice to online information devoid of legal advice
- Law firms should avoid advisory BLOGS
- Law firms should avoid BLOGGING in any environment that seeks to establish itself as an authority
- "Many blogs have the comment feature turned off to avoid spam comments or other inappropriate replies being posted." Wood says, "In our blogs, we try to give a general overview of a certain area of law, or alert readers to interesting issues in our field."
- Disclaimers are a must - include both notice that no attorney-client relationship is established and no legal advice is being or is intended to be given
WALKING & CROSSING THE MALPRACTICE LINE
The article provides:
- Canadian insurance underwriter, Pinnington says, "I think it could be argued that referring a client to information posted on your blog post could be construed as providing `advice' from the blog." (See last note below).
- Do not dispense legal advice.
- Do not create any lawyer-client relationships.
- Do not breach any current client confidences.
- Do not make a false or misleading communication about your services.
- Treat your blog like any other form of communication to clients or potential clients.
- Assume your blog is a form of advertising or marketing, and follow the Wisconsin Supreme Court rules governing lawyer advertising and marketing.
- Wisconsin websites and BLOGS fall under the rules of advertising (Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules 20:7.1, 7.2, 7.3, and 7.4)
- Seek out information regarding client communications on the web in the state of Wisconsin
- If you market into another state, the general rule of thumb is that the ethics rules of that state apply to you whether you are licensed in that state (NY specifically states same)
- Webmasters should not include states in any of the meta data or content (unless unavoidable) that would indicate a desire to market into a state in which the firm does not do business - natural exceptions to the rule would be those associated with a lawyer's credentials such as law schools, prior employment, and prior practices
- Google Webmaster Tools provides a means by which webmasters can localize a website for search purposes
- Pinnington's comments regarding directing people to information on the Internet (where he states that same could be construed as giving advice from that source [if a lawyer directs a potential or current client to their website or BLOG]) may need some clarification. In almost all situations, the lawyers' website or BLOG information is derived from some other source (for example, the Wisconsin Justice Department, CCAP, or a county court clerk's website). A lawyer's website often serves as a convenient repository of link to frequently referenced facts, links to other websites (such as is often found on a resources or law library page), or the attorney's credentials. In those instances, it would be easier and natural for a lawyer to refer a client to their website, and directly to that information ("just click on 'whatever'"). As well, attorneys often publish printed newsletters, and place those on their sites, subsequently referring a client to that article. We believe that Mr. Pinnington meant to refer to the types of articles that claim to be an authority on a subject and seek to dispense legal advice therefrom, or to articles posted by a channel that means to establish itself as an authority in some regard; with that, we concur. Therefore, if the channel in which you BLOG is a recognized authority or referenced by other online mediums as such, then you may be walking that thin line.... or crossing it. We note that Attorney Tracey Wood's BLOGS are posted on her website, which establishes itself as a piece of advertising, and on BLOGGER, which does not establish itself as authoritative on any matter... looks safe to us.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
According to Larry Bodine, a well known law marketing expert, in May 2006, a Berlin, Connecticut law firm sued his previous employer, a New Haven, Connecticut law firm for failure to update a website that listed a previous employee as one of the members of the firm. The employee, Robert Murphy, had begun his own law firm. However, his previous employer failed to remove his listing as an attorney with the firm. Murphy claimed damages and won.
The same premise could apply to any website that is relied upon for information about a professional, a company, or a service. If you manage any type of professional organization, or any organization that holds itself out to be an expert in any area, then you run the risk of being sued by an employee that leaves your employment especially if that employee goes into competition with you or in a competing line of work.
Law firms be aware - if one of your associates or partners leaves your employment, you should immediately update your website accordingly.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Net Nuetrality is a much larger pandora's box than simple control over commerce because it is the basis on which communications are and can continue to be transferred. The Internet transfers information without interpretation - i.e. neutral. A set of rules established in the 70's still exists today and because of its founding fathers' visions (Al wasn't part of those talks), it is built for substantial growth. Those rules allow for communications to be picked up from one location and transferred across communication mediums (wires, radio, sattellite, etc.) to another location. During its travels, the information is wrapped up in a blanket to prevent it from being interpreted; those blanket-wrapped communication bundles are called packets. The packets are dropped off at their destination, and interpreted by a tool - this process is referred to as client side activity because you (the client) have a tool that acts to interpret the information that was sent to you.
Internet transfers work similar to your snail mail. Your mail deliver person picks up your mail from the PO, reads the address, and delivers it to your door in sunshine, sleet or rain. Provided the mail person is not removed from his or her intended route, the mail goes through; a deviation in the routing can cause a delay in delivery or loss of mail.
Simularly, that is precisely how the net handles your communications, and despite any hiccups, Internet communications are delivered to their Internet address.
An ISP - Internet Service Provider - facilitatea that process by managing servers connected to the Internet. The Internet has two main backbones in the United States - one in the west and the other in the east, just like the electrical system in the US, and in fact reliant on it. Many web servers are connected directly to the Internet on the main backbone, while others are connected to another server that is connected to the Internet directly. Previously, whether a server was on the main backbone or on a connector mattered in regards to the ability of that server to provide bandwidth to its users. Today, those discrepancies are far less meaningful in the United States; rather, the differences are more obvious to country location than city location, or to the method of connection by the end client (you, the web surfer) and whether you use dial-up or broadband than they are to whether you are directly on the main backbone or off of it by one or three connections because the throughput has so dramatically improved. The ISP's recieve packets of information, read the address, and deliver it to your address.
If ISP's develop software to interpret the packets, then the process becomes dependant on the recieving software's ability to read the packet that was sent, as well as the sending software's ability to send a packet that can be read. If those types of restrictions exist, then communication outside of the ISP is limited or revoked.
That is the basis of net neutrality - Net Neutrality seeks to keep all communications from one end to another end neutral so that all persons can access, send and receive communications without interpretation. The reason that so many ISP's are up in arms about Net Neutrality is because they either want to control communications so as to restrict what you can read, see, send and receive or they are at the other end of the argument and want no restrictions placed on any net communications. Restriction will undoubtedly limit communications. Any restriction would impact the way the net operates, and it is believed (and probably true) that the ISP's that want restrictions want to create a commerce stream of their own which excludes other ISP access.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Second life is an experiment open to whomever wishes to partake. In essence, it allows people to go through the exercise of assessing and resolving a problem and forming solutions to test their outcomes. It is a form of social networking designed to look at financial problems, but has grown into many other fields including legal analysis, jury trial, jury selection, and a host of other adjudication processes.
If you have time, check it out and let us know what you think.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Wisconsin Criminal Laws - Comments about Wisconsin law by Attorney Chris Van Wagner, Van Wagner & Wood, Madison Wisconsin
Wisconsin Drunk Driving Laws - Comments about DUI defense and DUI laws in Wisconsin by Attorney Tracey Wood, Van Wagner & Wood, Madison Wisconsin
Presumption of Innocence - Freestyle, comments on Wisconsin laws by Attorney John Birdsall and Attorney T.J. Perlick-Molinari, Birdsall Law Offices, S.C., Milwaukee and Green Bay, Wisconsin
Deliberations - Jury selection and discussions about jury deliberations. Deliberations is written by Anne Reed, a trial lawyer and jury consultant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Monday, December 3, 2007
An IP is an Internet Protocol - and easiest to think of as a set of rules by which the Internet operates. The acronym IP is widely known among Internet mail and web hosts (usually just called "hosts"), and is usually associated with the "address". An IP address is an address on the Internet. Theoretically, it is said that every website has its own unique IP address. That isn't exactly accurate. What is accurate is that every IP address on the web is unique, but more than one website can share a single IP address (called virtual hosting, shared hosting, and just hosting).
Can a certain IP address be blocked on the net? Yes, any IP address can be blocked at the firewall of a server and thus prevented access by users attempting to see that website from the specific IP address.
Is blocking an IP foolproof? No. A user can simply go to another IP address and access the site if that IP address is not blocked.
Who blocks IP's? Typically, server administrators perform the actual block of an IP address by entering a block command into the server's net files that says, if IP X comes to visit, block him. However, you can also block IP addresses at the domain level by inserting coding in the web server files. If you insert the incorrect coding, you can block more than just one IP; in fact, you can block all visitors including search engines.
Why would a person want to block an IP address from their website? There are many reasons why people opt to block a particular IP address from access to their website. The most common is spam or virus attacks. Blocking an IP is rarely successful in those situations because of the nature of the attacks - the attacks are usually handled by a program (usually a script) and not a person, although a person wrote the program and executed it. A person who does that sort of thing is guilty of criminal harassment, and can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the nature of the harassment and the extent of damages.