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Weekend Audio: The Intersection of Media and Law - And a Free Book, too!

One of my favorite weekly radio programs is On the Media from public radio station WNYC in New York City. This week all of their segments dealt with the ways that new communications tools, such as Twitter and Flickr in the case of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, are allowing individuals to become an invaluable part of the media, and three of them brought to light how current and emerging communication technologies are coming into conflict with existing law. The whole program makes for an interesting listen, but these three segments, dealing specifically with new media and it’s intersection with law, should be particularly interesting to lawyers, especially those who are looking for areas where practice growth can be expected in the future.

The first segment, The New Hacker, covers the conviction last week of Lori Drew in the My Space suicide case. Turns out Ms. Drew wasn’t convicted for any sort of “cyber bullying” crime but, instead, for violating the My Space terms of use. If this conviction stands, practically every internet user could be at risk of criminal prosecution. Did you know that the Google terms of service require you to be of legal age to form a binding contract in order to use the search engine? Who reads these things, anyway?

Maybe we all should start. The second segment of interest to lawyers, Click to Agree, discusses the current state of law regarding the contracts created when one clicks “I Agree” in order to use a web site. If they don’t already, at some point in the future these agreements may very well make up the majority of the contracts that consumers enter into, and lawyers who serve individuals will need to understand how they work and when they are enforceable.

While a little more esoteric, the third segment, which I found fascinating, was Patently Wrong, a discussion by Duke University School of Law professor James Boyle on how current intellectual property law is impeding the flow of ideas, harming the culture at large and the potential for the creation of new inventions and works of art in the future. And best of all, you can even download a free copy of his book, The Public Domain: Enclosing the Commons of the Mind, here.

Enjoy you weekend!