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 Lulu.com 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:
- copyright infringement (Lin’s publication of Sampsell’s emails; Grayson’s publication of Lin’s emails)
- Lanham Act / false designation of origin (Grayson’s publication of Lin’s work without his permission in a book with his name on it)
- right of publicity (Grayson’s publication of Lin’s work without his permission in a book with his name on it, since Lin is a public figure)
- right of privacy (Lin’s publication of Sampsell’s emails and/or Grayson’s publication of Lin’s emails might raise public disclosure of private facts and false light issues, depending on the content of the emails)
- professional responsibility / malpractice (depending on the relationship between Grayson and Lin; if an attorney-client relationship were found to have formed, Grayson’s publication of Lin’s emails would likely violate his duties to his client)
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.
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.