Archive for the ‘family law’ Category

Sally Brown Richardson on Virtual Property in Community Property Regimes

Monday, October 18th, 2010

File this one under: She got the Jeep, I got the blog.

Sally Brown Richardson has posted to SSRN a paper titled Classifying Virtual Property in Community Property Regimes: Are My Facebook Friends Considered Earnings, Profits, Increases in Value, or Goodwill? The paper is forthcoming in the Tulane Law Review.

Here is the abstract:

Virtual property, or that property which exists only in the intangible world of cyberspace, is of growing importance. Millions of people use some form of virtual property every day, be it an e-mail account, a blog, or a Facebook profile. Billions of dollars are spent to acquire property in the virtual world. And the economic and social impact of virtual property is only likely to increase at light year speed.

As the importance of virtual property continues to rise, laws pertaining to virtual property must similarly develop. Among the emerging legal issues yet unaddressed by scholarship or jurisprudence is how community property regimes will respond to virtual community (or separate) property. Because the acquisition of virtual property such as websites, domain names, e-mail accounts, and even Facebook pages, create a property interest, in the nine community property states, community property laws impact what rights spouses have in such property. Thus, spouses are on the brink of litigating issues such as whether a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is community or separate property, whether a website generates an increase in separate property, whether e-mail contacts are profits, and whether Facebook friends create goodwill. Community property jurisdictions must be prepared to quickly adapt to the reality of virtual property if the regimes wish to avoid being left in the wake of cyberspace. To aid courts in their impending task of considering virtual property in a community setting, this Article examines how different forms of virtual property should be classified in community property regimes. After explaining the classification scheme within community property jurisdictions, the Article details examples of virtual property likely to be present in modern couples’ lives, and considers how the identified examples of virtual property should be classified.

Texas Man Argues State Harassment Law Unconstitutional, Cites Implications for Blogs

Friday, May 14th, 2010

An appeal to Texas’s Court of Criminal Appeals is arguing that Texas Penal Code § 42.07 (prohibiting electronic and telephonic harassment) is unconstitutionally overbroad, violating the First Amendment.

The appeal in the case of Scott v. Texas (nos. PD-1069-09, PD-1070-09) results from the conviction of Samuel Scott for harassing phone calls and voice-mail messages directed to his estranged wife. Mr. Scott was sentenced to two days in the Bexar County jail and a fine of $50.

Scott’s brief argued that blogs and social media are singled out for criminal sanction where traditional media is not:

In our fast growing social media world Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, and any number of blogs all facilitate electronic communication. It is absolutely legal and expected that in societies people will argue, debate and verbally confront each others’ ideas. When one annoys another on the street corner, or at a town hall meeting, or even in the newspaper opinionated editorial section no one can be arrested. But if someone tweets, chats, posts or blogs the same Texas Penal Code § 42.07 makes it illegal.

The brief is on Westlaw: 2010 WL 1683760