Saturday, May 13, 2006

Immigration Law 101

President Bush is scheduled to speak to the nation Monday evening. Reportedly he will be discussing border security and other issues related to immigration from Mexico. Nearly everyone seems to have an opinion about what the president should do. Some want a fence to be extended accross the southern border similar to the 400 mile fence near San Diego. Others want the onus put on employers to ensure their employees are legal, and, if not, punished with fines or other sanctions.

At Stanford University the law school sponsors an Immigrants' Rights Clinic. Among their activities is to provide legal services, aid in obtaining welfare cash assistance, and a project to assist the ACLU in thwarting the activities of groups they describe as anti-immigrant vigilanties--apparently it doesn't occur to them or the ACLU that their actions constitute vigilante activity too. In short, the law school sponsors illegal activity.

Last week the Stanford Latino Law Students Association was called upon to provide very different services. A 33 year old woman from Mexico was struck and killed on campus. The students collected donations to pay for the return of Sandra De Anda's body to Mexico where her two small children live.

It will be interesting to see if the law students will hold the woman's employer accountable for employing an illegal. The deceased woman worked at the Stanford Law School cafe.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

This woman is hopeless. But I could be wrong.

The Palo Alto Weekly carried a column written by local teacher Nancy McGaraghan that starts like this:

"Listening to the news can be dangerous to your health. Gas prices are at an all-time high and President Bush's approval rating is at an all-time low. There is seemingly no end in sight to the bad news. Consumers feel the pinch of inflation, and residents talk about a recent wave of break-ins. We worry about national security and the environment. Iraq, Iran, immigration reform, political detainees, genocide in the Sudan. And the most recent stressor: our poor health compared to other nations. Apparently, just being an American is stressful enough to be dangerous to one's health. Evidence suggests our poor health is itself stress induced. A double whammy. It's enough to make one think that Henny Penny was right: "The sky is falling. The sky is falling."

What's this leading up to you ask? This is how McGaraghan began her column about the 84th annual May Fete Parade--known locally as the children's parade. After taking the parade on a wild and inaccurate detour, the paper bizarrely titles the piece 'The merry month of May won't be highjacked by the 6 o'clock news.' Which, in fact, is exactly what just happened.

Joel Beinin's Stenographer

Professor Joel Beinin teaches in the history department at Stanford University and is outspoken in support of Palastinian objectives in Israel. Accordingly, David Horowitz compliled a booklet in which he describes Professor Beinin, and others, as supporters of terrorists--of Hamas in this case. Because Horowitz used the faculty portrait of Beinin on the cover of the booklet Beinin has sued for copyright infringement.

This became the reason for a story in the San Jose Mercury News. And while it is a copyright infringement case, the story provides much more background into Beinin's beef against Horowitz, going so far as to descibe the issue as follows:
"He's suing the book's publishers in what is the first counteroffensive by a professor against a growing campaign by conservative groups targeting left-leaning college educators."
Remember, the lawsuit is about the unauthorized use of one photograph. The campaign part is a little farfetched but you could hardly blame a wild-eyed reporter after reading the gibberish attached to the actual charges. Beinin's lawyers have fun with a little agit-prop on behalf of their client, but through it all the following facts emerge; 1. Beinin only claims a registered copyright after the book is published. 2. Beinin does not answer whether he owned the basic, non-registered copyright before he discovered that it was used in a book not to his liking.

The upshot is that Beinin isn't likely to reap much of a payback because registering the copyright after publication is significantly less rewarding. But then he gets the satisfaction that a large metropolitan newspaper is likely to print his version of events without asking him to provide evidence to substantiate the underlying charge.

Update: Beinin's photo was taken in 1997 by Palo Alto photographer Theodore Mock (complaint pg. 12). It's most often the case that the creator of the photo is the holder of copyright, but it can be legally transfered and, in fact, Beinin's lawsuit claims that copyright was transfered to him from Mock. The first published use of the photo was April 10th 1998. It's doubtful that Mock, or anyone, registered the copyright prior to January 26, 2006. The book on which Beinin's photo appears was first published on February 7, 2005--more than 12 months after Horowitz published the booklet.

Why is that important? Unless copyright has been registered prior to the infringement or 3 months after, the claimant is only eligible for actual damages--no punative damages, or court costs, or unnecessary verbage about conspiracies against Mr. Beinin will be considered. According to widely used photograph pricing tables the photo is worth between $170 and $330. But the publicity--priceless.

Further update: Professor Beinin's attorney is Mitchell Zimmerman of the law firm Fenwick and West. According to his online biography Mr. Zimmerman specializes in copyright cases and has this to say about his approach:
"Mr. Zimmerman's practice focuses on counseling, litigation and conflict resolution involving copyrights..."
Would it be fair to ask if Professor Beinin was counseled on conflict resolution in order to avoid trial? Or is a show trial the whole point?