According to an article in the New York Times, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned the conviction of Sergey Aleynikov, a former Goldman Sachs programmer. Mr. Aleynikov was convicted of transferring vital source code from Goldman Sachs to a server in Germany in violation of the Economic Espionage Act. At issue in the appeal was whether the code was used in interstate or international commerce. Mr. Aleynikov “argued that the bank’s trading platform was built for internal use and never placed in the stream of commerce,” and hence was outside the scope of the Act. The code allowed Goldman Sachs to engage in high-frequency trading, where algorithms analyze market data and take advantage of investment opportunities which may last for only a short period of time. A full opinion from the Court of Appeals is forthcoming. Mr. Aleynikov may still be liable in civil court for violating his confidentiality agreement with Goldman Sachs.
Image: CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 / b00nj
Jennifer Granick at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School has an interesting post about the difficulties prosecutors will face in the Megaupload case. According to Ms. Granick, while it might be possible to prove civil liability, it will be extremely difficult to prove the willfulness requirement necessary for criminal liability. This is mainly because those running Megaupload likely believed they were operating legitimately under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. As she explains, “for criminal liability, it doesn’t really matter whether the service qualifies [under the DMCA], so long as Defendants believed it qualified.” In addition, it is unclear whether someone can be held criminally liable for secondary copyright infringement (“aiding and abetting” copyright infringement) or whether the US will have jurisdiction over the Defendants merely because they used a hosting provider in the Eastern District of Virginia.
The Guardian reported in December that courts in Norwich and Norfolk, England are testing the use during trial of tablet computers by prosecutors. The devices “will contain all the evidence and documentation needed to conduct court hearings,” according to the article. If the pilot is successful, the devices will roll out across courts in England and Wales beginning in April. The government “hopes the tablets will save at least £50m [approx. $79 million] … by the time of the next parliament.”
One feature of the new tablet system is the ability of the police to electronically deliver evidence and other information directly to prosecutors. One barrister commented that “[a]nything that can make the criminal justice system more efficient and give the public better value for money is to be welcomed.” Eventually, tablets will also be provided for use by juries, judges, and defense lawyers.
The use of electronic devices may be especially disorienting in British courts: the same barrister noted that the tablets will provide attorneys with “everything that they need, apart from their wig and gown of course.”
Image: cc-by / David Ortez (Flickr)
It can be intimidating and a little overwhelming to stay abreast of all the new technologies inundating the legal field. This brief post from the Lawyerist reminds us that, as important as technology is to the legal profession, it’s not everything. At the end of the day, new technology may help some lawyers do their jobs better or communicate with clients (and potential clients) more efficiently, but it’s just a tool to allow good lawyers to be better, not a replacement for skills or services that those lawyers should already be utilizing.