In the News

Theranos’ voided tests could make it a magnet for lawsuits

Steven Davidoff Solomon quoted by Wired, May 20, 2016

“It comes down to what Theranos knew about its machines when it raised capital, and what its investors didn’t know,” says Steven Davidoff Solomon.

The politics of passenger rail in Los Angeles

Ethan Elkind interviewed by KCRW, May 20, 2016

“This is a momentous occasion for Los Angeles transit advocates, and for mobility and the region. And the reason is that the Westside of Los Angeles is the most densely populated within the county. When you have dense concentrations of people, that’s when technology like rail transit makes the most sense.”

Pushing students out of class a bad idea

Kate Weisburd writes for East Bay Times, May 19, 2016

Three pending bills in Sacramento will expand the ability of schools to push kids out of school and irreparably disrupt their education. … These bills significantly widen the school to a prison pipeline. Rather than address the root cause of the problems, these bills further criminalize and exclude students, especially students of color.

Humboldt County takes aim at racism

john a. powell quoted by Mad River Union, May 19, 2016

As powell put it, when “we are consciously aware of the [other] person, our stereotypes and beliefs about the person surface in our conscious mind but our emotional reaction has already occurred” before we know it. This happens even among people who are not prejudiced, he emphasized.

Oracle-Google dispute goes to heart of open-source software

Pamela Samuelson quoted in The New York Times, May 19, 2016

“The open-source community will heave a huge sigh of relief if Google wins, and will be very worried if Oracle wins,” said Pamela Samuelson, professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley. “It will have a chilling effect.”

Metro hoping riders will heed call to board $1.5 billion Santa Monica Expo train

Ethan Elkind interviewed by KPCC-FM, May 18, 2016

Metro’s return on investment comes down to ridership. … “It’s really dependent on something that sounds really straight-forward, but is hard to achieve in reality, which is that you have to have enough concentration of people and jobs within a half mile of stations,” he said.

Leaks abound as Yahoo auction gets underway

Steven Davidoff Solomon writes for The New York Times, May 18, 2016

It’s hard to sell any company, but Yahoo is finding that it may be even harder when the entire world seems to know about your supposedly secret bidding.

Oakland 8-year-old’s shooting death could yield first county death penalty in years

Franklin Zimring quoted in The Mercury News, May 18, 2016

Frank Zimring … said Alaysha’s slaying was a case of “extreme victimization” of an innocent girl caught in an enormous violence. There wasn’t a fight between equals; the gunfire blasted through the door, he said. Even an office that wouldn’t touch the death penalty with a 10-foot pole would feel an obligation to do so “in an extraordinary case of unprovoked and meaningless violence,” he said.

Privacy and data security issues in M&A transactions – A checklist

Paul Schwartz co-writes for Lexology, May 17, 2016

Because the failure of a target company to meet its privacy and data security obligations can present a significant risk to the acquiring company, compliance with applicable laws should be an important consideration in merger and acquisition transactions.

Colleges shouldn’t have to deal with copyright monitoring

Pamela Samuelson writes for The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 17, 2016

If the overwhelming majority of the university’s uses were fair, it doesn’t make sense to impose substantial and costly compliance measures on it. Colleges, students, faculty members, and academic-book-­chapter authors will win if the publishers lose once again.

Acknowledging the value of lending club, even as it stumbles

Steven Davidoff Solomon writes for The New York Times, May 17, 2016

Yes, Lending Club deserves more scrutiny. But companies like it are not banks — they do not have the same central importance, and are not too big to fail. So far, peer-to-peer lending seems to do more good for consumers than bad.

Will Turkey let UN officials snoop in the southeast?

Jamie O’Connell quoted by Al-Monitor, May 17, 2016

“Even [US President Barack] Obama saying something wouldn’t transform a government’s behavior,” said Jamie O’Connell, a senior fellow at the University of California, Berkeley law school. “But the difference between leading rights groups like Amnesty [International] or Human Rights Watch making such comments and a UN official doing so is considerable,” he told Al-Monitor in an interview.

What Pfizer’s stand against lethal injections means for California

Megan McCracken interviewed by KPBS, May 16, 2016

“We see states moving away from capital punishment, as more and more people see that there are so many problems with capital punishment and that it is really a broken system — a costly broken system.”

California needs strong, fair and effective groundwater agencies

Holly Doremus and Michael Kiparsky write for The Fresno Bee, May 16, 2016

Groundwater provides about one-third to half of the state’s water supply and an essential lifeline when rivers run low during drought. Groundwater mismanagement is distressingly common; with lack of regulation and heavy pumping, overuse has destroyed infrastructure and put farms, communities and ecosystems at risk.

Location, location: Solar PV and the San Joaquin Valley

Ethan Elkind co-writes for Capitol Weekly, May 16, 2016

Out of the 9.5 million acres in the stakeholder study area, the groups identified 470,000 acres of ideal, non-controversial land for solar PV development, or roughly 5 percent of the Valley study area.  At a generic calculation of 1 megawatt of solar PV production from 5 acres of panels, that means the lands identified could provide 94,000 megawatts of renewable power.

Pfizer tightens restrictions to keep drugs from being used in executions

Megan McCracken quoted in The Washington Post, May 13, 2016

“It’s very significant that the pharmaceutical industry is speaking with a unified, singular voice,” McCracken said. “Saying we don’t want our products used this way and actually taking steps to ensure that they aren’t.”

When you buy digital content on Amazon or iTunes, you don’t exactly own it

Christopher Hoofnagle quoted by Los Angeles Times, May 13, 2016

“Language like ‘buy now’ confuses the contexts of offline and online purchasing,” Hoofnagle said.

How Bill Gates became embroiled in a Swiss shareholder fight

Steven Davidoff Solomon writes for The New York Times, May 10, 2016

Bill Gates’s Foundation Trust and his personal investment fund are locked in a brutal shareholder dispute in Switzerland over the sale of a controlling interest in the Swiss specialty chemicals maker Sika.

The White House has some unexpected ideas about reducing crime

Franklin Zimring quoted in The Washington Post, May 4, 2016

“If you and I are selling drugs on the street, we’re both going to want the best corner, and if we have a conflict about who got there first, we’re not going to put it into arbitration,” Zimring said. “They put a tremendous number of cops in to destroy the public drug markets.”

Trademark officials must distinguish between irony and offense

Sonia Katyal writes for The New York Times, May 4, 2016

Brands and trade symbols are not just pictures. They implicate the very force of identity, which can form and recode itself according to the dynamic pull of public culture. But there are certain marks that remain disparaging by the communities that are targeted by them, and that is precisely why we need the force of law to limit its protection of them.