Issue Spotter!

This post is for all of the law students and recent law graduates out there. I came across the following paragraph in a Daily Beast article entitled “The Hipster Thief,” about literary enfant terrible and fellow NYU grad Tao Lin, author of Shoplifting From American Apparel, and the legal fallout from his arrest for, well, shoplifting from American Apparel:

After agreeing to publish a chapbook called today the sky is blue and white with bright blue spots and small pale moon and i will destroy our relationship todaywith respected indie publisher Kevin Sampsell, Tao chafed so much at Sampsell’s editing suggestions that Sampsell canceled the book. Then, in a long, hypnotic blog post, Tao published all of Sampsell’s personal emails along with a detailed “philosophical justification” for doing so. (He claimed that making private information public “decreases pain and suffering in the world.”) Later, after his shoplifting arrest, Tao emailed lawyer and short-story writer Richard Grayson for legal advice. Grayson then published those emails on without Tao’s permission as a book called The Tao Shoplifting Crisis.

This paragraph is right out of a law school issue spotter essay exam. How many legal issues can you spot? I see at least five:

DISCLAIMER: I’m not saying any of these wrongs were actually committed by any party or that such claims would stand up if brought, just that the issues are there, and that after reading that paragraph I had to keep myself from launching Electronic BlueBook on my laptop.

Did I miss any other potential claims against any party? If they’d only included a few more facts about Lin’s arrest, we’d have criminal law and criminal procedure issues too!

Some samples of Tao Lin’s work are available here.

Adult Swim fans might also enjoy “Issue Spotting Metalocalypse” over at the Legal Satyricon.

This entry was posted by Richard on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010 at 8:00 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response below, or trackback from your own site.

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  1. February 3rd, 2010

    @ 12:17 pm

    Nice job! As one of the defendants above, and a former academic support director at Shepard Broad Law Center at Nova Southeastern University (also a former visiting assistant in law research/staff attorney at the University of Florida’ College of Law), I still do private bar exam prep and often ran exam taking worksops. It’s nice to see myself used as a hypo.

    You can read the book here:

    Also, do you think I have an affirmative defense if you read this from the other party’s blog when he posted Kevin Sampsell’s private emails without permission?:

    (This is from Tao’s blog)

    here is what will happen if i post kevin sampsell’s emails: kevin will be more aware of what he types in emails from now on, more people will be encouraged to post other people’s emails; gradually more people will be more conscious of other human beings and feel more aware of what they type in emails and by extension what they do or say in real life; in time, less lies will be told, more information will be available, there will be less secrecy, people will be more tolerant and nicer (if only because they are afraid of what will happen if they are not nice), because actions will be easier linked to identities (if you punch someone in the face you will suffer consequences, if you pay someone to confidentially punch someone in the face you will probably suffer less consequences, because of the confidentiality)

    misdirected actions by way of obscured philosophies and hidden information, such as soldiers fighting soldiers rather than generals (or presidents) fighting generals (presidents), will happen less; *making available information that is true will probably always reduce pain and suffering in the world * [Tao's emphasis]

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