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Bank That Suppressed WikiLeaks Gives It Up

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the can't-stop-the-rain dept.

Businesses 145

Is It Obvious writes "Bank Julius Baer has moved to withdraw suit against Wikileaks. We've discussed this story a few times, most recently when the judge lifted his injunction against WikiLeaks' registrar. The Baer story reflects an issue that will only grow worse over time: the gap between technology and the legal system's understanding of said technologies and their application to established legal principle. Given the rapid rate of technological change, is there a more practical way to interface emergent technology with our legal system while retaining civil rights over corporate rights?"

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145 comments

I wonder if... (2, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#22668906)

Can Wikileaks recover any legal expenses?

Re:I wonder if... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22668952)

What legal expenses? The reason for the injunction in the first place was that they did not answer the case.

Re:I wonder if... (2, Interesting)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669366)

What legal expenses? The reason for the injunction in the first place was that they did not answer the case.
Not entirely accurate as to how it transpired. But in any case, the key words in your quote are: The reason for the injunction in the first place...

Clearly as the case progressed there where legal expenses. In the end, it turns out Baer had no case, at least to where they filed their legal action. So it was "frivolous", yes? Therefore they should pay the legal expenses.

IANAL.

Re:I wonder if... (4, Interesting)

Sique (173459) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669082)

It seems so. From TFA:

Lawyers for the intervening parties in the case had threatened to try to recover legal fees in the case under a California law intended to prevent frivolous lawsuits, said Paul Alan Levy, a lawyer at Public Citizen who argued against the judges order at the hearing on Friday.

Re:I wonder if... (4, Informative)

jellie (949898) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670464)

I don't know if that applies to Wikileaks. The quote says:

Lawyers for the intervening parties had threatened to try to recover legal fees...
I think that refers to all the groups that filed amici curiae (friends of the court) briefs. These included (off the top of my head) Public Citizen, ACLU, EFF, and some dozen or so media companies. Wikileaks never went to court and never filed any legal motions! I don't think you can reimbursed for responding to frivolous e-mails from stupid lawyers (which, I understand, is all they did).

I think the laws that the statement refers to are California's anti-SLAPP [wikipedia.org] (SLAPP = strategic lawsuit against public participation) statutes. However, it seems like the defendents must file anti-SLAPP motions, and we haven't heard of any that have been filed (though I may be wrong).

Re:I wonder if... (2, Insightful)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670802)

I would think that by moving to have their domain removed from resolution resulted in wikileaks being harmed and they should be eligible for damages. When Baer filed suit for copyright, it could be argued that the filing was a defacto admission of the documents authenticity and if the document is authentic then it's also newsworthy and becuase it's new the freedoms of the press apply and wikileak's trade was restrained for no good reason.

Re:I wonder if... (2, Interesting)

jellie (949898) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671332)

While the actions of Julius Baer, Lavely and Singer, and Dynadot were all despicable, they didn't break the law, per se. Breaking the law would be something like setting Wikileaks servers on fire (which is still a suspicious incident) or intentionally causing a DDOS on their servers. Violating someone's First Amendment rights is not quite the same; additionally, a judge agreed with them. Probably the most similar case, which has probably been mentioned many times, is New York Times Co. v United States [wikipedia.org] . In that case, the Supreme Court held that the government's exercise of prior restraint violated The New York Times's and The Washington Post's rights to freedom of the press. I don't believe the newspaper won any money, though they weren't "damaged" because they continued to publish despite the threats from Nixon.

The OP asked about legal expenses, and not damages. Are there financial damages for a non-profit site that doesn't engage in the trade of goods? The counter-argument would be that the lawsuit actually made Wikileaks more well-known! Furthermore, no court has actually agreed with Wikileaks. The plaintiffs withdrew their lawsuit; that doesn't mean they're wrong (even though we know they are). To show damages, I would think that Wikileaks would have to show up in court, with lawyers, and argue that they were harmed. It doesn't seem like it's worth the effort.

On another note, has anyone ever received money after their work was taken off a website due to a false DMCA claim? I'm not aware of it ever occurring.

IANAL.

Re:I wonder if... (1)

Idefix97 (725474) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669138)

I believe that they can sue for filing a frivolous lawsuit. From the article: "Lawyers for the intervening parties in the case had threatened to try to recover legal fees in the case under a California law intended to prevent frivolous lawsuits, said Paul Alan Levy, a lawyer at Public Citizen who argued against the judge's order at the hearing on Friday."

Short answer (5, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22668910)

is there a more practical way to interface emergent technology with our legal system while retaining civil rights over corporate rights?"

No.

Longer answer: We don't need more knowlegable judges, we need more intelligent ones.

Re:Short answer (2, Insightful)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22668968)

In the early days of automobiles, there were laws written concerning the hay the new transport would consume. Legal systems are by their nature designed to look backward for precedent not forward. Those attracted to this profession share this basic nature.

Re:Short answer (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669156)

Not that I don't believe you, but I'd like to see your source for that!

It must be worth a good laugh

Re:Short answer (2, Informative)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669918)

unfortunately I cannot quote the source; it was a humor book on legal foolishness I read some 20 years back. but. I do think if you google "hay" and "taxi" you will find that Australian taxi cabs are by law still required to carry a bail of hay in their "boot" to feed the no longer existing horse.. a left over from English law governing 19th cent Hansom cabs in London. Britian HAS repealed it but I think it is still ont he books in other commonwealth countries.

Re:Short answer (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669276)

The point of precedence in the legal system is to allow it to adapt to changing circumstances. Those sitting on the cusp will, of course, have to put up with the pain of new interpretations of statutes, but what's the alternative? The system works, for the most part, and I agree with a poster that says we need smarter judges. It's not as if this case were something fundamentally new. It was a frivolous attempt to use the courts to shut someone up who was saying negative things. That's hardly a brand new legal tactic.

Re:Short answer (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669576)

Law tends to mutate over time. slower then technology but technology also isn't on a continuous evolutionary path. It spurts. Eventually law catches up. As seen in the previous months as they try to fix patent law.

Re:Short answer (2, Funny)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669146)

is there a more practical way to interface emergent technology with our legal system while retaining civil rights over corporate rights?"
Ummm, kill all the lawyers?

Re:Short answer (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669628)

Ummm, kill all the lawyers?
There are good lawyers (Although I have to admit my salary comes partly from the local law foundation so I have a bias.) Lawyers get a bad rap because there are some exceptionally scummy ones (Jack Thompson) but I'd prefer a country with lots a lawyers to a country with none. Look at any where the lawyers are few, non existent, or powerless and you'll find places where the rule of law is weak or non existent. the Rule of law is necessary for the management of large groups of people because there is always conflict and without the rule of lack, conflict resolution can be messier.

Re:Short answer (2, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670070)

In this case it how ever has very little to do with the law. Whilst the principles of the law are clearly being abused, that is not the real focus of what is going on and how it is being challenged. This is all about late twentieth century mass marketing, and public relations and using the law as a delaying and silencing tactic.

So in this case the bank wanted to temporarily silence it critic whilst it own public relations and marketing teams created a lie to cover it over and via mass media define their lie as the truth and the accusations against them and their corrupt clients as lies.

So the court case would be extended with out resolution to bleed the witness and their supporters dry, while a counter message smearing the witness and its supporters was spread and a cloak was created over the corrupt practices.

Now of course the witness to the corruption and those that assist and support the witness in the disclosure of the truth, now via the internet have direct access to the greater community. A community that can now directly access a review the 'all' the information and not just the lies available via mass media. A community that will also do the most damaging thing imanginable, demand a full an open investigation, demand prosection and penalties be applied for any criminal activities, a community that will basically demand that the law as it is applied to the poor will also be applied to the rich.

Re:Short answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22669550)

Unfortunately, this profession is devoid of any intelligence by definition.

Re:Short answer (1)

Al Dimond (792444) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669748)

This is like saying that we need more intelligent programmers. The total amount of intelligence going into any profession is pretty hard to change without making the field more interesting or appealing (perhaps more lucrative?). Maybe improving education could bring up the overall level of intelligence.

It's often quicker and better to come up with tools and systems that augment the intelligence of their users and help prevent mistakes. It's easier for one group of programmers to write tools that make all programmers more efficient than for all programmers to get smarter. Similarly, as technology evolves guidelines and standard procedures need to be set down by the judges, policymakers, and technologists that understand it best to help other judges and policymakers make wise and effective decisions. It probably is worth it for all judges to understand the now-famous notion, "the Internet treats censorship as damage...", but they shouldn't have to understand the layering of network protocols or how DNS works.

Of course it sounds like we're not really asking for more intelligent judges but ones that agree with our priorities. Plenty of intelligent people want corporate rights over civil rights, often to protect their profits (that is, they're highly motivated). If that wasn't the case then getting things turned around our way would be easy.

Re:Short answer (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669770)

We don't need more knowlegable judges, we need more intelligent ones.
Pulling out my geek card a little bit, this reminds me of the Bene Geserit in the Dune series. No formal system of laws, simply judges/jury that look at each individual case and rule as fairly as they can.

Of course, you were refering to their knowledge of technology, not of the law. The point is, our laws should be simple. Why do we need a law that says "don't steal over the internet" and another that says "don't mug people on the streets" and another that says "don't break into people's homes and steal"? There should just be one simple "don't steal".

Re:Short answer (3, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670182)

If only we could require judges to undergo rigorous mental training and prove their humanity (on pain of death) before they get to sit in judgement of others. Legislators even more so.

Re:Short answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22670084)

Agreed!

Education and experience are the only ways we're going to be able to combat asinine decisions made by technologically inept judges.

I wouldn't recommend consultants, as they are normally paid for by those who have the money to afford them. I.e, not the common man, and probably not most defendants that will be getting summoned to court due to a 'technological' issue.

Interface (4, Funny)

gammygator (820041) | more than 6 years ago | (#22668958)

I'd say a more practical interface is to plug the lawyers into something electrical and then turn it on.

Re:Interface (0)

wizkid (13692) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669000)


Great idea, accept to have any effect on this class of scum you'd have to have at least a 480V 3 phase circuit.

Re:Interface (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22669210)

I do not except your premise.

Re:Interface (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22669222)

Any dockyard that can take real ships will have this available.
Look for the shore power outlets and cables.

There now. I've empowered you.

Wrong approach (3, Insightful)

moogied (1175879) | more than 6 years ago | (#22668972)

Its not an issue of making laws for every single new techonology. Its about making laws that cover our basic rights and are upheld purely on those basis. So this means company's cannot take our information and share it whoever they want, because we have a law against it. Its fundamental issues that are in need of clarification, not little laws for every application.

Re:Wrong approach (2, Interesting)

The End Of Days (1243248) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669294)

The only problem with that is the impossibility of generalization over so many probably outcomes. The basic rights in the US are written in a general manner, which makes them subject to ever-changing interpretations, basically on the whims of the judge reading them at the time. Specificity is the attempt to cure that.

There is no good answer in any system designed to cover so many eventualities.

Re:Wrong approach (1)

Wordplay (54438) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669904)

There's no impossibility here. What you're describing is the result of attempting to subvert a general right by adding a bunch of exceptions between the weasel words.

For example, let's say the First Amendment said, in plain language, "The government may not, in any way, prevent any citizen or group of citizens from expressing a fact or opinion, or from publishing a creative work that is represented as such. This applies to all expression or publication, whether verbal or non-verbal. The government is not required to act to enable expression or publication, but cannot act to prevent it." That's a fairly easy right to enforce consistently, once you define "fact" and "opinion" elsewhere.

Would that change our expectations of what security would do and what privacy protects? Sure would, because once someone knows something, there'd be no way to put the cat back in the bag. Would all hate-speech legislation be unconstitutional? Yep (is now too, but that's neither here nor there). It'd be a different world than we have now, but a better one IMO.

If you're out to enforce rights, the rights need to be legislated explicitly, not poetically, and they need to be simple, general concepts with simple, general litmus tests. Anything that doesn't fall into that category probably shouldn't be legislation--if you can't enforce it simply, you can't understand and comply simply either.

The biggest problem with our system of law is that it's -too- specific.

Re:Wrong approach (1)

GaratNW (978516) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670942)

So, I suggest this kind of jokingly, but wondering if it would be feasible. If the law is, at it's heart, supposed to be objective, impartial, and based purely on the facts, wouldn't it be possible to remove the judge's bias and reading from most civil matters by utilizing the same technology that is the core of so many problems with the law right now?

The idea I'm struggling towards is:
- Every civil case should be able to be broken down to pure facts. Anything that cannot be backed up with data is inadmissible. Sworn testimony is not admissible, because humans are inherently biased to their own point of view, even when trying to be honest.
- Break down the high level laws into what their intent is, in a factual manner. No opinion. Right to free speech. Pretty straight forward. No more obscenity laws. Some people like to claim that obscenity shouldn't be protected, but.. who's definition of obscenity? Copyright and fair use laws? Between the two, these should break down pretty easy with very little room for interpretation. It's either copyrighted or it's not, it's either fair use, or it's not. (you can do x,y, z or its derivatives, you can't do a, b, c or its derivatives)
- You'd need a fairly powerful analysis tool to compare the known "facts" of the law vs. the known "facts" of the case and then determine where things stand.

There's a ton of holes I can already see in this and there would still be a need for human analysis for the components of cases that can't be judged purely on the facts (testimony, circumstances, intent), but at least to form a baseline that no judge could skip past (minimize accusations of "legislating from the bench"), you could proceed just with those intangibles towards a verdict, with 90% of the case already determined as to how the law applies to it. And biggest worry about this kind of system, is a legal system that doesn't take compassion into account quickly becomes a tyrannical one.

I'm kind of struggling for a concept that I don't feel I'm explaining very well, but does what I'm trying to describe here make sense as a way to apply these broad laws to 99% of all eventualities?

Re:Wrong approach (1)

TheCage (309525) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670142)

But there's so much more money to be made (by the lawyers!) to write new laws and defend them!

Sure we can. (4, Insightful)

ardyng (973980) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669038)

There are these mystical people called "Consultants." I know that that's a dirty word in most people's minds, but seriously.

We should have an independent group of people who ACTUALLY know what they're talking about that can be called upon by judges who don't understand what's going on. Judges can't be expected to have a grasp of every field of knowledge that may come up in their cases.

I don't see it actually happening, but that's life.

Re:Sure we can. (2, Informative)

SeePage87 (923251) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669300)

Why don't you see this happening in real life? I used to work at a firm that did legal consulting and expert witnessing. It wasn't just corporations that hired us, it was the government too. We were called in for economic consulting, but many other kinds exist.

Re:Sure we can. (2, Interesting)

cmowire (254489) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669304)

Define how you can tell the difference between a real expert and a snowjob artist.

This is the problem with the current Expert Witness system (which works vaguely like you suggest). You can get expert witnesses to say all sorts of stuff and people will believe them.

Re:Sure we can. (2, Informative)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669828)

"Define how you can tell the difference between a real expert and a snowjob artist."

Their fee.

Re:Sure we can. (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670938)

Their fee.
What does their fee have to do with their expertise; do you think the snowjob artist who depends on his fee for making his mortgage payment is going to charge less that the real expert who will have to take time out of productive work to be deposed?

Re:Sure we can. (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670998)

Quite the opposite. The snowjob artists knows it is all bullshit, and can charge whatever he wants for his "expertise". Both parties involved know it is a crock and that they are buying an "expert opinion".

Four words. (4, Insightful)

ardyng (973980) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670578)

Define how you can tell the difference between a real expert and a snowjob artist.

I can do that in four words.

Peer review and publication.

Re:Sure we can. (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669402)

I don't see it actually happening, but that's life.

It does happen. Federal judges are empowered not only to hear the parties' experts, but seek experts on their own. A lot of them do that.

Re:Sure we can. (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669594)

I've done this for a judge. I know a federal district court judge that was hearing a case that involved the defendant tapping into an unsecured wireless network of an acquaintance and performing criminal activity over the acquaintance's net connection. The judge called me up one day, told me I should come over for dinner, and we chatted about wireless networking, security, etc. She found our conversation quite enlightening and will likely never look at a can of Pringles the same way ever again.

Corporations don't have rights. (5, Insightful)

thoolie (442789) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669074)

Corporations are not people. Therefore, corporations do not have rights.

End of story.

Now, laws can be passed to protect corporations to limit what they can and can not do, but they do no have unalienable rights. Those are reserved for people.

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (1)

ServerIrv (840609) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669180)

Yes, corporations are not people; that is where your statement stops being correct. Any corporation has the same rights as an individual. About the only thing a corporation cannot do that an individual do is to get married. Although they can bypass that limitation by merging.

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (1)

SourceFrog (627014) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670244)

And (Diebold jokes aside) presumably they can't vote either (although that doesn't mean they don't often heavily influence politics).

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (4, Informative)

EMG at MU (1194965) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669312)

A corporation is a person.

From wikipedia: "A corporation [wikipedia.org] is legally a citizen of the state (or other jurisdiction) in which it is incorporated (except when circumstances direct the corporation be classified as a citizen of the state in which it has its head office, or the state in which it does the majority of its business)."

Corporations are protected under the Bill of Rights in the U.S., the same bill of rights that protects U.S. citizens.

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (3, Insightful)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669398)

It's not -really- a person, though. It is an -entity-, yes, but not an actual -person-.

Unless corporations have gained the right to vote and to hold public office while I wasn't looking?

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (1)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669914)

As far as the IRS is concerned, a corporation is a person. That is the whole reason for incorporating - so when someone wants to sue, they sue the corporation instead of you personally. You can only sue other "people", and not intangible things.

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (1)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669970)

And now please list the BENEFITS to The People for providing the mechanism for Incorporating Artificial Legal Entities.

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (2, Informative)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670050)

I think I just did. As a personal example, when I ran an apartment rental business, I incorporated. That way my own personal assets were protected, and I could only be sued for what the business had in assets. If that isn't a huge protection for "The People" I don't know what is. You see, corporations are made up of "The People", and most corporations in the US are small businesses and not huge conglomerates.

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670240)

No. As far as the IRS is concerned, a corporation is an -entity- separate from any of the individual employees or shareholders of said corporation.

You may file suit against persons or entities--this is why you can sue various departments of the government or the government as a whole--they count as -entities-.

Unless you're going to try to make the argument that the Federal Government is a 'person'?

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (1)

oliderid (710055) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670232)

Unless corporations have gained the right to vote and to hold public office while I wasn't looking?

So a foreigner living in your country isn't a person? :-)

In french a company is "une personne morale" a "moral person". I always found that one so funny :-)
As a human being you are a "private person", "une personne privée".

It has rights and properties, and these rights can even protect it from me its unique shareholder.
Various international treaties guarantee these rights abroad (for example: copyrights)

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22670300)

Unless corporations have gained the right to vote and to hold public office while I wasn't looking?

Clearly their rights have been violated up to now. This sounds like the beginning of a 14th amendment case for SCOTUS.

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22670332)

My 100,000 shell corporations have been lobbying hard for suffrage.

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (2, Informative)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670894)

It's not -really- a person, though. It is an -entity-, yes, but not an actual -person-.

That's right, it's not really a person. It's all based on a pun, the fact that they used to be called "corporate persons", and since that's the same word used in the 14th Amendment (though not the same sense of the word), it was argued that corporations should have equal protection under the laws as actual persons. A really bad pun is what caused all this mess.

Fun Fact: The 14th Amendment language regarding "persons" was applied to corporations (not people) before it was applied to women (people) and homosexuals (people).

Wonderful world, eh?

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (1)

mephistophyles (974697) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669894)

Actually, an organization can have the same legal standing as a person. They have to apply for these and be granted them. This enables them to have bank accounts, be party to a contract etc.

Interesting aside (1)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670092)

This means that corporations often have "headquarters" (a shack holding a person who may or may not be alive at the time) in a State that has little or no corporate tax, even if they do business in areas with gigantic tax rates. Which means the corporations pay next to nothing to work there. The taxes therefore end up coming out of the pockets of employees in those areas, since the money will be raised somehow.

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22670298)

Unfortunately you are correct.

Giving Corporations the same rights as a person, or individual human, gives them a superior position in society, due to the default economic dichotomy between the individual and the Corporation. Since the average individual does not have the economic or legal means equivalent to that of the average, or lower status Corporation, Corporations automatically become a higher class than that of the average man. I would argue that it goes as far as 90+% of the individuals in the U.S.

This, IMO, is one of the biggest downfalls in the history of the US, as the average citizen, individual man, will always be second to that of the Corporation, economically and legally. A few hundred years of case law pretty much solidify this for the future, but that doesn't make it Right in the least.

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (1)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670720)

Epic fail.

1. Quoting Wikipedia as a source on a legal question.
2. Ignoring Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, which happened about 100 years after the Bill of Rights was created.

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (1)

gnarlyhotep (872433) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670980)

A corporation is a person.


Sadly yes. Perhaps one of the worst, most far reaching and just plain legally wacky judgments the US Supreme court ever handed down.

What I wonder is why corporations, being as they are legal individuals who benefit from the protections of the constitution and federal law, are exempt from the prospect of being drafted. Perhaps Blackwater, et al, might show a bit more sense, if they realized they might not get paid an exhorbitant amount for the services they provide the US, if they could be drafted during a national emergency to provide those service for the good of the nation at a much more reasonable rate.

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669388)

Corporations are not people. Therefore, corporations do not have rights.
In law, corporations have rights (as a tool of defining injustices). Morally, neither corporations nor people have rights, but obligations. Eg: not to steal, to help the vulnerable of society, etc. Rights are implicit but not absolute, despite what the U.N. charter says, rights have always been merely a human construct and as such are not part of any religious code and traditionally not considered part of the natural order.

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22669520)

...that the creator has endowed men with inalienable rights...

So, that corporations have rights granted by the state I understand, but to speak of them as tho they are on the same level as a human being and inalienable rights does baffle my mind and sicken my stomach.

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669648)

So, that corporations have rights granted by the state I understand, but to speak of them as tho they are on the same level as a human being and inalienable rights does baffle my mind and sicken my stomach.

But in law, no right is inalienable really. I mean, look at killing, for example. It's off the statue books in many countries (death penalty), but they don't have any problem with their armies killing people, and the law upholds this. So much for inalienable! Is a right infringed upon every time a person dies? That's the point I'm making. Rights are used for law, where you have to describe what a legal entity is entitled to and what it can and can't do. It's no big deal if a person or a company or a family or a business or a nation have rights in law. It doesn't have any reflection on the inherent status of a human life. It's when insurance companies, airliners, PR companies etc. set a dollar value on a human life that my stomach begins to churn.

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669868)

It's always interesting to come across somebody confidently asserting as fact something that I'm confident is completely wrong. (Thanks, Slashdot.) Morally, your only obligation is to respect other people's rights. Rights are not an arbitrary human construct, but a recognition of human nature and how society functions. Because rights derive from the nature of humanity, does not mean that they are constructs of humanity.

True, they aren't religious in nature. But they correspond to some degree with many religious principles, because religions that fly in the face of human nature rarely flourish.

The issue of corporations having rights is really a legal fiction, done mainly as a legal matter of convenience, not out of moral or ethical principles. Morally, corporations should have no rights other than that possessed by the conglomeration of its stockholders.

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670112)

True, they [rights] aren't religious in nature.
Therefore they are arbitrary in nature, because we (humans) made them up as part of our description of everything, either as a reflection of our religious beliefs or by consensus. They are nonetheless up for debate and are conditional, not least because not everyone believes in them.

Morally, your only obligation is to respect other people's rights.

Morality depends on which religion you follow and most religions impose more than just one moral obligation and again they don't refer to people's rights (although it's easy to describe them beceause they are implicit). Legally one could say your only obligation is to respect other people's rights, oh and that of plants, animals, rocks, parking spaces and, as it happens, corporations. Morality and law are different, but of course anyone with morals would hope they were the same.

I'm really not saying anything radical if you think about it. Just labouring the point of the original poster having a problem with corporations and people having rights before the court at the same time. I'm just pointing out the confusion people have between what is legal (go and campaign about it) and moral (for which we can be justifiably emotional).

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669410)

Corporations are people! They're a collection of people working together as a single entity with group ownership of assets, and abstraction of responsibility. As such, they have freedom of speech, because the people who represent the corporation have freedom of speech.

It also makes some degree of sense to allow them legal entity status (although "personhood" is a bad word). It would be hopelessly inconvenient if the entire board of directors of a telephone company had to countersign every service agreement, or in the case of tort law, if a company was owed money for each shareholder to have to sue for their share.

YANAL... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22669720)

... or you would know corporations do have rights, including the freedom of speech, at least in the US.

Now if you were saying corporation should not be treated as a person and should not have rights I would agree with you.

Re:Corporations don't have rights. (1)

TheSkyIsPurple (901118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669792)

> Now, laws can be passed to protect corporations to limit what they can and can not do

If, as you say, corporations are not people, how can we pass laws about what a corporation can do? Only people can do things.
(People can make objects do things, but legally the person did it...)

Or are you saying that sometimes it is convenient to think of corporations as being similar to people?

Powerful Lesson? (2, Insightful)

Pearson (953531) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669106)

Mr. Levy said that the judge's decision to withdraw his order would offer a powerful message in future cases in which plaintiffs might try to shut down Web sites because of the content they display. "A judge who's confronted with a request like the bank's in the future is going to be much more reluctant to give this order," Mr. Levy said. "The lesson of the case is going to be taken very seriously."

While I hope this will be the case, the various courts handling RIAA cases haven't seemed to know anything about each other, or learn from previous findings, so I remain skeptical.

The internet is quite a disruptive technology, and it necessitates a complete realignment of parts of the law to address the way things are. Unfortunately the ones who should spearhead that effort are the paid lackeys who gave us the DMCA...

Re:Powerful Lesson? (1)

mrbluze (1034940) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669532)

The internet is quite a disruptive technology, and it necessitates a complete realignment of parts of the law to address the way things are.
Rather, the truth is quite a disruptive instrument and the enemy of deceptive corporations like banks. That's why wikileaks was attacked.

Just a thought (5, Insightful)

apdyck (1010443) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669168)

I don't know if anyone else has thought about this, or if it's even practical, but why not establish a court system for High-Tech cases? They could hear things like the **AA cases and examples such as this one, and would have judges that are actually paid to keep up with the changes in technology. In fact, I'm sure you would have no problem finding volunteers among the existing pool of judges that are actually aware of legal issues. So you take a pool of existing judges with knowledge of tech issues, ask them to keep their knowledge current (I'm sure they have aides to help them with this), and have any cases dealing with computer crime and/or civil cases involving the Internet go through this 'special' court system. It would not be any more lenient than the existing courts, however the parties involved would have a basic understanding of the issues that face high tech companies and individuals. Of course, the hard part would be to determine which cases go before this court. For this, I propose that all cases have to be heard before the regular system, and if one or more of the parties involved wants to have it moved to the high tech court, both parties should have to make an argument as to why / why not. Thoughts, anyone?

Re:Just a thought (1)

JamesRose (1062530) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669244)

Has it not occured to you that all regulation that has been put in place recently (like music radio) is run by the RIAA, so a court system is set up, you can be sure that the people running it are going to be executing the RIAA's orders not judging their cases.

Re:Just a thought (1)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670714)

Technology isn't really that special, and lots of judges are actually very good at what they do and in learning new things, contrary to what ./ believes. Looking at this case, I'd say the initial injunction was justified. It can't be denied that these accusations were/are indeed detrimental to JB's public image, and the defence (truthfulness) wasn't invoked because wikileaks didn't show up. Without any way to contact WL, The injunction against the registrar was the only option.

In answer to the question... (1)

slashname3 (739398) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669218)

The answer to the question is simple. Use a BFG to kill all the lawyers. Apply technology at what it does best to solve this problem. Eliminate the parasites that have ruined so many people , companies and projects.

Re:In answer to the question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22669620)

I'd prefer to use a BFG to kill you. I'd probably stick it up your fatass and blow you to bits.

Pace of legal vs. technological evolution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22669230)

Technology will continue to outpace the bureaucratic legal field. However, what about establishing a "test" of sorts for technology that must be passed before it is approved/legal?

I.e. if it meets a set of criteria, then it is legal, or vice versa.

Surely this is where we must be headed.

Huh? (2, Insightful)

CrazyDrumGuy (836427) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669344)

retaining civil rights over corporate rights
Retaining? Um, have you been paying attention [aclu.org] ? Corporate rights already take place over civil rights under the Bush administration.

It's far from obvious (1)

psb777 (224219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669384)

Problems with the way this is being reported here: Such a mishmash of terminology. It is far from obvious that the legal system will inevitable find its understanding of technology becoming less over time. This is an example of the law catching on pretty quick. Also civil rights do not automatically trump corporate rights, whatever is meant by that, nor should they.

What we have here, in this Slashdot story, is a misunderstanding of the legal issues much more serious that the judge's initial screw up, forced on him by procedural issues. I think the law does a fairly good job of catching up with technology.

Codify into Law (1)

fallen1 (230220) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669412)

what we, the people, already know -- that an INDIVIDUAL'S rights should always trump a Corporation's wants/desires/wishes. As another poster pointed out, Corporations do not have rights as they are not human beings. So, when a Corporation tries to suppress an Individual (or group of people) the rights of the human beings will trump the rights of a "corporate entity".

What about slandering a company? Or libel against a company? Simple -- the company must prove the individual wrong beyond a shadow of a doubt. If they can't or are unwilling to, the individual's right to free speech (or freedom of the press) is considered inalienable and inviolate. Corporations should NEVER have more legal power than an individual. Sadly, this seems to not be the case around the world these days, but we can hope.

What I find fascinating... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669496)

After the court reversed its decision, and wikileaks got its domain back, everyone lost interest. It seems nobody actually cares about Julius Baer.

The real problem is the domain registrar (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669518)

The legal system worked. As soon as Wikileaks got involved in the case, the judge reversed himself almost immediately.

The real problem here is with Dynadot, the domain registrar. Like most domain registrars, Dynadot tries to wriggle out of the concept that domains are the property of the registrant, substituting one-sided terms of service [dynadot.com] which give them discretionary power over the domain. That's the problem.

They made a deal with Bank Julius Baer to shut down the site, and got the court to sign off on the deal, without even notifying the registrant. That was Dynadot's doing. That's where the problem started.

Interestingly, Dynadot has one of those indemnification clauses in their agreement that everyone ignores. This time, it matters. It reads: You agree to release, indemnify, defend, and hold harmless Dynadot ... against any losses, liabilities, claims, damages or costs, ... relating to or arising out of Your registration, application, transaction request, resale, or use of services provided by Dynadot and Your account with Dynadot ....

Should Dynadot be threatened with a lawsuit or receive notice of a filed or pending lawsuit by a third party, Dynadot may seek written assurances from You concerning Your promise to indemnify Dynadot. Your failure to provide such written assurances may be considered a material breach of this Agreement.

One could argue that Dynadot's insertion of such a clause created an obligation on Dynadot to promptly notify the registrant of any threatened litigation. Dynadot has claimed in their contract that the registrant has responsibility for claims against Dynadot by third parties. Yet Dynadot did not properly notify the registrant of such a claim. Instead, they apparently went to court before notifying the registrant. That's usually considered negligence or worse.

emergent technology (1)

Erpo (237853) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669548)

Given the rapid rate of technological change, is there a more practical way to interface emergent technology with our legal system while retaining civil rights over corporate rights?

Yes. Make sure the troublemakers get Focused. Oh wait, civil rights?

Legal System Break Down. (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669556)

"Given the rapid rate of technological change, is there a more practical way to interface emergent technology with our legal system while retaining civil rights over corporate rights?"

Corporations have no rights over civilians rights. In fact, corporations have no rights except as defined by their corporate charter in the city, state, nation that holds their articles of incorporation. In fact, I'd even suggest that corporations are ONLY legal entities, artificially constructed, that serve the members of that corporation. And as public legal constructs normal rights usually assigned to individuals (aka PEOPLE) do not apply.

Technology has no bearing upon rights, they exist apart from technology.

As for this case (and the whole general Barbara Streisand effect), once the cat is out of the bag, there's no putting it back in. The proper recourse is to prosecute criminal charges (when applicable) and civil claims (when possible) against those that are publishing the info. Sometimes this isn't possible, and you're out of luck. Oh well, get over it.

Backwards (1)

DigitalisAkujin (846133) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669688)

I think the opposite is true. Legal understand of technology will get better. As people who use the Internet on a daily basis (not IT pros but normal people) get out into other fields basic network understanding will be common.

In 50 years everyone will know HTML and BBCode (or the equivalent popular format of the day) because it will be used daily.

Re:Backwards (1)

Siridar (85255) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670258)

In the same way that everyone knows basic electrical theory (because we've been using electric lights, appliances, etc) for the last 50 years? Or the same way that everyone knows basic automotive theory (checking your oil, water, making sure your tyres are inflated properly, and your brake pads are okay) for the same reason?

hmm. :)

Johnny-on-the-spot you ain't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22669880)

while retaining civil rights over corporate rights

Too late.

No (1)

doas777 (1138627) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669910)

Given the rapid rate of technological change, is there a more practical way to interface emergent technology with our legal system while retaining civil rights over corporate rights?"


NO. obviously the legal system is obsolete and should be retired. If we don't Microsoft will develop legacy compatibility for it, and then we'll have a legal system with as many security holes as it has loopholes for the ultra-wealthy.

Yeah, its pretty simple. (4, Interesting)

jdoss (802219) | more than 6 years ago | (#22669950)

I don't mean to come off as a troll, but I think the answer is: "Stop fucking with us."

The things that we citizens of the Internet (if there is such a thing), nearly universally, seem to agree on is that we want to be left alone from the "powerful". Spammers? Leave us alone. Advertisers? By and large, leave us alone. Eavesdropping, corporate or governmental, leave us alone.

We reserve the right to poke, prod, and change the world around us by using the Internet, but we do not appreciate, nor do we seem to stand for, the reverse to hold true.

In this particular case ... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670134)

I don't think you can blame the "legal system" here, so much as you can blame ignorant bank management and uninformed attorneys.

I challenge you to a duel! (1)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670192)

Yes there is a way. Abolish all lawyers! Got a problem with someone? Settle it the old fashioned way: Challenge them to a duel! You meet in a forest with witnesses from both sides. Each takes an ornamented gun from one of those ornamented wooden boxes that contains two guns that are made for this purpose. You stand back-to-back, walk ten paces, turn around, and shoot. Problem solved. No need for lengthy litigation and filing motion after motion for a hundred years.

Re:I challenge you to a duel! (1)

isj (453011) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670562)

That reminds me of some remarks in the book "Gesta Danorum" where the author, Saxo Grammaticus, notes that in old times they had a much better system where the disagreeing parties simply fought over who was right. Nothing about the soft and new-fangled way with oaths and proofs. That book was written in the 12th century.

Shouldn't the answer be obvious? (2, Interesting)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670344)

There are many technologists out there who have either found themselves displaced, replaced or burned out in their fields. Perhaps it would be a good time for some to change careers to law? The EFF might do well to offer scholarships to the best and brightest of those to become lawyers and then try to become judges.

Of course that may not work since very often the venue for many cases involving technology and patents are selected simply for its lack of expertise and knowledge perhaps to win through bullshit misconceptions. (Consider the pactice of jury selection where they always choose people who have the least understanding of law or legal procedure.)

Yea, great.. until one day.. (2, Interesting)

sudog (101964) | more than 6 years ago | (#22670764)

.. everyone decides that something that shouold be private, isn't, and some poor individual, company, or country gets screwed by the same technologies that we have all grown to know and love.

It's not a lack of understanding on the part of these banks. They hire people like us all the time and are in many cases more versed with security and the realities of the Internet than 99% of us. It's a concern that, without adequate controls or cooperation from online presences and technologies, one day real damage will be done and there'll be nothing that can stop it.

They're not worried about injustices. Those are just their legal departments trying to build precedent for future legal actions. They're worried about real, actual damage when private, secret, or sensitive data is released through the same channels and nobody cooperates in removing it or halting its spread.

You idealistic types can gnash your teeth about the curtailing of your online freedoms, but what you're failing to grasp is the simple fact that Your Opinion Is Not Perfect. Your idea of what deserves to be free isn't the same as your neighbour's idea, and when pictures stolen from your webcam of you and your wife engaging in something that you think should be legal but isn't, are circulated to every major visitor-supported voyeur pornsite, you'll be sitting there thinking that maybe, just maybe, being forced to trust anonymous individuals on the Internet who are well beyond the reach of any punishment you can effect, isn't the utopia you thought it would be.

Re:Yea, great.. until one day.. (2, Insightful)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671614)

Those are just their legal departments trying to build precedent for future legal actions. They're worried about real, actual damage when private, secret, or sensitive data is released through the same channels and nobody cooperates in removing it or halting its spread.

I'd rather have real data spread around than silence someone because of what they might say.

You idealistic types can gnash your teeth about the curtailing of your online freedoms, but what you're failing to grasp is the simple fact that Your Opinion Is Not Perfect.

So what? I have the right to say what I feel.

when pictures stolen from your webcam of you and your wife engaging in something that you think should be legal but isn't, are circulated to every major visitor-supported voyeur pornsite, you'll be sitting there thinking that maybe, just maybe, being forced to trust anonymous individuals on the Internet who are well beyond the reach of any punishment you can effect, isn't the utopia you thought it would be.

heh, this is exactly like shutting someone down because you don't like what they say.

Why cant law (2, Interesting)

EEPROMS (889169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22671772)

be more like medicine were only a specialist familiar with the problem can actually advise or operate. Can you imagine a plastic surgeon doing brain surgery, no and it would have massive legal consequences if it did happen. So why can Judges with no technical understanding in regards to the subject matter he is dealing with advise or take any action ?
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