by Jessica Holyoke on 15/03/10 at 12:26 am
In the United States, there are a few states left where you don’t have to go to law school in order to be an attorney. In California, with some restrictions, you can be a lawyer over the internet. Some states allow someone to "read the law" or simply work with a licensed attorney in order to study to be a lawyer. Abraham Lincoln is still revered by attorneys, and stupid Camden children, as studying the law by reading it and not by going to law school, even though there weren’t the overpopulation of law schools in 1800′s America as there are now. (Coming Soon: the University of Starbucks Law School.)
So when a person says that you can educate yourself regarding the law by reading it, you have a tendancy to agree. Its simply words, either on the screen or on a page. Anyone who can speak the language can understand that, right? Apparently, absolutely not. And this is ignoring the fact that someone who looked up something on the internet is of course just as competent at reading and interpreting law as someone who went to school for three years, had to pass a bar examination and maintain their education with classes every year.
Here is an example; something pointed out by my friend the other day. Some guy has this idea that if you get a traffic ticket, say in Tuscon, Az., that you should go into court and ask questions. Ask if you have are presumed innocent. Ask if you are presumed innocent of every element of the offense. Ask if you are presumed innocent of being at the place the incident happened. Which, according to this person, means that if the defendant is presumed innocent of being at the location where the incident took place, therefore the court has no jurisdiction to take the case, and therefore, the case must be dropped.
That’s a clear cut case of internet lawyering. Someone reads something, things they have a handle on things, when they absolutely don’t and try to argue some backassward thing based off of the misunderstanding. Because the court has jurisdiction over the case because that court would be the place to hear traffic violations alleged by the police in the location where it is alleged to have occured. In order to prove that the defendant is guilty, the attorney or officer has to prove to the court that he met all the elements of the offense, including being there. If this internet lawyer was arguing venue, then venue is proper because that was the place the incident was alleged to have occurred. And that my friends is stupid internet lawyering in real life.
I see it everywhere, especially with intellectual property, the backbone of what we do on Second Life. People probably still believe that only a percentage of use determines fair use. (Two paragraphs, ok, three paragraphs, DAMAGES). Fair use depends on different factors, weighed by a court in order to determine its effectiveness as a defense in an infringement suit. Does that mean that use isn’t fair until a court decides it is? Hell, no. Otherwise you couldn’t review movies, tv shows or music and Seth Green wouldn’t be as succesful as he is.
Or the whole "its fictional currency, it isn’t real, so I can steal it nyah nyah" when countries are going, "I’m pretty sure I can tax that in one way (receipt of any income) or another (barter credit)." What do I mean by receipt of income? Some tax professionals say Matt Murphy catching and keeping Barry Bond’s 756th home run ball means he just received $500,000 worth of income, on which he would owe income tax.
When it comes to Lindens, I always say its not income until I cash out from the Lindex, because I don’t have an absolute right to them. The Lab could lose them at anytime. However, the barter credit and the any receipt of income are arguments against my position.
Which is another thing the bothers me about internet lawyers. I have seen in a number of threads where they pull the "oh you can’t determine that, only a court can determine that, except for when I make the determination, then I’m right and you’re wrong." Actually, no. You don’t need a court to determine every little detail of life.
So fellow…grocery baggers, while fighting internet lawyers on forums might seem like wrestling with pigs, sometimes you happen to come up against them in court.