Employee Data Theft
Thinking of downloading that one last document from your employer to help with your next venture? Think again.
An employee downloading company information or emailing it to a personal email account prior to an anticipated termination may be liable for misappropriation under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. An allegation of improper downloading was sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss even if the trade secret was not improperly used. Marsteller v. ECS Federal, Inc..
See, Employees Can Be Liable for Data Theft Regardless of Use
Copyright Law Pop Quiz – News Organizations
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Consider the following scenarios:
- Two high school cheerleaders are suspected of spearheading an elaborate underground gambling ring. Neither the police nor the school will release the students’ photographs, but your reporter was able to obtain several images of the girls on Facebook along with a short video of them performing a cheerleading routine. Can your station use these visuals in its newscast? During a tease? On its website?
- With the gubernatorial election a month away, a story appears overnight on the website of the local alternative weekly newspaper that the incumbent has late-stage cancer and may only have weeks to live. Your political reporter tries, but is unable, to confirm the story overnight. Can your station lead its morning newscast with the story? If so, must you attribute the newspaper as the source of the story?
- Your station’s primary competitor obtains hidden-camera video of the star quarterback for the local NFL team injecting steroids before a big game. Your assignment editor identifies the source of the video, but is unable to negotiate a licensing agreement at a reasonable price. Can your station still broadcast parts of the video on its newscast (using the video recorded from your competitor’s newscast)?
See, What Every News Organization Needs to Know About Copyright Law.
Textual Citations, or nah?
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Bryan Garner is a world renowned lawyer, lexicographer, and teacher. His book Garner’s Modern American Usage and Elements of Legal Style is the leading source for the effective use of the English language. He is also the editor-in-chief of all current editions of Black’s Law Dictionary. Garner writes a monthly column for the ABA Journal. His latest piece discusses textual citations and the hindrances they place on legal writing.
Although legal writing is the least skimmable prose known to humankind, those who create it commonly do something that forces readers to skip over dozens, even hundreds, of characters in almost every paragraph. I refer, of course, to citations: the volume numbers and page numbers that clutter lawyers’ prose. These superfluous characters amount to useless detail that distracts the reader from the content. This habit also results in two evils that you might think contradictory: overlong sentences and paragraphs on the one hand (the extra characters bulk it up, after all), and underdeveloped paragraphs on the other.
I agree with Garner, textual citations make for messy paragraphs, but using footnotes as the alternative has its drawbacks as well.
See, Textual citations make legal writing onerous, for lawyers and non lawyers alike.
E-Discovery’s Next Big Challenge – ‘BYOD’
The hot phrase for E-Discovery in 2014 will be “bring your own device” (BYOD). BYOD is a policy that permits employees to bring their own electronic communication devices (smartphones, tablets, computers) to their place of work to access company information. The phrase was first used in a paper by Ballagas et al., at UBICOMP in 2005. By 2011, the term was used frequently in blog articles and conversation.
As BYODs grew in popularity, companies found themselves in need of protocols and procedures to ensure company information was safe. This is how BYOD strategies were created.
Over time, BYODs have become beneficial for both parties. Employers often reimburse the employee for a portion of the device cost, some even going so far as to cover plan fees as well. BYODs enable employers to reduce their training budget since employees are often already familiar with their personal device. Additionally, reports show that BYOD employees feel empowered in their position, which yields greater productivity.
As employee’s personal devices are used more frequently with the employer’s system, the race continues to fully understand and address the legal implications. Gartner, reports that “by 2017, more than half of companies will require their employees to supply their own devices on the job…”
Employers currently have IT restrictions and programs in place to prevent employees from inadvertently releasing confidential information or accessing protected files while using the employer’s devices; however, this is not as simple with BYODs. While the employee may be more productive due to the increase in access, the employer is exposed to greater liability.
The issue now becomes, with so many questions left unanswered, how do employers ensure they do everything necessary to protect confidential information? And, what happens when things do not go as planned such as termination or early departure?
A recent survey by Acronis found that 21% of companies “perform remote wipes when an employee quits or is terminated.” In my opinion, this is a huge problem for BYOD growth. According to the Wall Street Journal, the most common complaint the nonprofit National Workrights Institute receives from workers is phone wiping — companies remotely clearing out the contents of personal smartphones that employees sometimes use for work purposes. One employer even complained of losing photos of a family member that had passed when the company wiped their device.
While the future of BYODs appear strong, the manner in which companies adopt strategies moving forward will be key. The most prudent course of action is for companies to invest money into the development of mobile application programs. While the initial investment may be substantial, over time it will be extremely advantageous. This strategy would prevent companies from drastic routes, such as wiping an employee’s device upon termination or early departure. Instead, the employer could simply restrict the access of the employee’s device to the application. Similar strategies could also be used to adjust restrictions as best practices further develop. This would allow companies with BYOD policies to adapt quickly.
The future of BYODs remains to be seen for now, but the best advice for an employee is to have a clear understanding of the synching guidelines and rules. Employees are encouraged to back up their device often, without the companies confidential information so that in the event your employer wipes your device, all your information will not be lost.
Key sources: – The Evolution of BYOD; Yes Your Company can Wipe Your Device; BYOD Is the No. 1 E-Discovery Challenge for 2014
Should Rap Lyrics Be Admissible Evidence?
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It seems hard to justify the use of lyrics like this as anything other than a cynical attempt to influence the jury with what is likely unfair character assassination. Any “gangster rap” artist is going to have lyrics in their songs that read like the manifesto of a criminal. That, however, does not make that person a criminal. Music is art, after all, and nobody goes around suggesting that Gwar actually wants to eat your children, that Martin Scorsese is part of the mob, or that John Carmack murders uber-demons in his spare time. Gangster rap has grown up and been commercialized so that it’s as authentic as Kraft American Singles cheese and mostly as palatable. Some gangster rappers are as “gangster” as the teenage surburbanite children who listen to it so faithfully. In the case of Skinner, the other evidence used against him was testimony by witnesses that told more stories than Stephen King. Still, he was convicted by the jury, though that conviction was later overturned.
Who really owns an LLC’s blog entries?
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Though the question presents itself under very unfortunate circumstances, the issue is worth pondering.
Dear Rich: I am part of an LLC that owns a blog. One of our officers was the active blog contributor. She died last year. Some of the other officers would like to publish her blog posts, but we are unsure who owns the copyright – the LLC or her heirs?
Are you Team One Space or Two?
Are there one or two spaces after a period?
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