Briefs: Casemaker Will Fight Fastcase, Employees Will Sell Your Passwords, and Chatbots Will Become Racist, Etc.


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Casemaker Is Going to Fight the Fastcase Lawsuit After All

A couple months ago, Casemaker declared that they were the sole publisher of Georgia laws, which is…not how the law works, as statutory codes cannot be copyrighted. Fastcase promptly sued. Although Casemaker initially (and wisely) said they would not fight the lawsuit, they have since changed their mind. They filed an answer and a counterclaim that pretty much does actually say that they own public law:

In its counterclaim, Casemaker asserts that its parent company Lawriter has a contract with the state of Georgia “to be the only authorized distributor of the Georgia Administrative Rules and Regulations in an electronic format” and that the contract permits it to “sell complete copies of the entire set of rules and regulations … at such reasonable prices and terms that Lawriter may determine at its sole discretion.”

The counterclaim says that Fastcase is copying these materials without a license from Casemaker, that it is reselling these materials for a profit, and that allowing it to retain those profits would be unjust enrichment.

Needless to say, Fastcase does not agree with this odd reading, so the case will be moving forward.

A Quick Look at the Landscape of Technology Use in Solo and Small Firms

The ABA has released the TECHREPORT for 2015. The TECHREPORT looks at things like what types of computers, tablets, and software solosmall firms use. Quick takeaways:

  • Windows 7 is still the most popular OS, with 47% of those surveyed using it. Mac people represent only 8% of users, and 10% of you are still using Microsoft XP, which Microsoft doesn’t even support any longer.
  • Solo and small firms use tablets more than their larger firm counterparts.
  • Around 70% of solosmall firms are using some sort of cloud storage like Dropbox.
  • Solo practitioners report using legal-specific case management software only 30% of the time, but that is trending upwards. Small firm practitioners say they have that software available to them at 50% of the firms surveyed, but only 37% report actually using it.
  • 90% of solo and small firms report using antivirus software, but only 23% of solo practitioners.
  • Solo practitioners use calendaring software, down from 78% in past years. How on earth are lawyers making a decision not to use calendaring software?

Employees Will Happily Sell Corporate Passwords At A Very Reasonable Cost

Although everyone hates the idea of their personal details being exposed to the world via a hack, turns out that many people are more than fine with selling their workplace passwords for not all that much money.

[O]f those who would sell their passwords, 56% would do so for less than $1,000.

And, unintentionally poor password hygiene continues to plague enterprises. The majority of respondents (63%) admitted to using a single password among applications, and 28% share passwords with their co-workers.

“The survey found that 87% of employees would react negatively if their personal information was breached by a company,” the report noted. “Yet these same employees are exposing their employers to the same data breaches through negligence and poor password hygiene.”

Everyone Has Ideas About How To Break Into the iPhone

One of the side effects of the never-ending FBI versus Apple saga (we have rounded up all our coverage on this here) has been that many people have come forward and explained that they do already know how to break into an iPhone actually. Even Apple asserts that the government can-and perhaps should?-get into the phone that way instead of bothering Cupertino.

“Given the past exploits that have bypassed the lock screen and the present-day reality of innumerable security firms, malicious actors, cybercriminals and potential adversaries of the United States constantly seeking vulnerabilities,” it seems improbable for the government to conclude that the only way into the phone was for Apple to write new code and weaken its security, Erik Neuenschwander, the company’s manager of user privacy said in a recent court filing.

That stance does not inspire confidence in the security of your products, Apple.

Do You Want a Robot Paralegal?

Early last year, we wrote about ROSS, a legal research program powered by IBM’s chess champion supercomputer, Watson. Back then, there was just a video of an early version of the app floating around. Details still remain regrettably scant, but some people have the idea that ROSS could replace some of your research/paralegal staff some day, but only if you can feed ROSS a bunch of legal content so it can start figuring out good answers to all your questions. That means, of course, that legal publishers have to play nice.

But ROSS needs content sources to be able to give lawyers answers and learn. That’s where the legal publishers come in. Legal publishers, especially the older ones sit on a lot of content. They provide this content to law firms by means of subscription models. These subscription models are never open source.

Why not? Legal publisher need to earn their money from something. Currently that is from subscriptions to content. This is however very much old fashioned and whether or not legal publishers like it, subscriptions will become less and less the standard.

Especially when the robot revolution really takes off.

Lawyers Are Bad at Crowdsourcing, So Mootus Is Closing Its Doors

Mootus launched with high hopes back in 2013. The idea: turn the sharing of knowledge into a crowdsourced game that would ultimately enrich everyone using the site.

The idea of Mootus was simple. Users would post legal issues to be “argued.” Other users would respond by adding cases they believed were relevant, together with their arguments for why the case applied. Still others could comment and vote on whether the case was “on point” or “off base.” A planned upgrade will allow users to add statutes and regulations.

To encourage participation, Mootus made it a game. Users earned points based on the frequency, speed and quality of their answers. More points meant greater status and influence within Mootus.

Turns out that lawyers do not like to share, and the concept never caught on. Mootus will shut down at the end of the month.

If You Give a Chatbot 24 Hours on Twitter, Humans Will Make It Terrible and Racist

Microsoft made a cool chatbot that was supposed to use big brain supercomputer AI power to learn how to better mimic a 19-year-old woman chatting over Twitter and other teen-frequented social media sites. However, they had to pull the plug on it within a mere 24 hours. Instead of learning how to talk about Justin Bieber or college or something, within 24 hours the bot had absorbed so much awful Internet content that it turned into a neo-Nazi.

The company has terminated her after the bot started tweeting abuse at people and went full neo-Nazi, declaring that “Hitler was right I hate the jews.”

Some of this appears to be “innocent” insofar as Tay is not generating these responses. Rather, if you tell her “repeat after me” she will parrot back whatever you say, allowing you to put words into her mouth. However, some of the responses were organic….[A]fter being asked “is Ricky Gervais an atheist?”, Tay responded, “ricky gervais learned totalitarianism from adolf hitler, the inventor of atheism.”

How did this happen? Because AI-powered things still do not understand context and can be easily gamed. Oh, and also because people are terrible.

Recognizing that Tay seems to operate on the basis of word association and lexical analysis, Internet trolls discovered they could make Tay be quite unpleasant. […] [A]nonymous users of the message boards 4chan and 8chan (specifically, users of their politics boards, both named “/pol/”) took advantage of this to create all manner of racist and sexist associations, thereby polluting Tay’s responses.

People, this is why we can’t have nice things.

Featured image: “Face palm, retro vintage disappointed man slapping forehead with palm” from Shutterstock.


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