Berkeley Law

‘Happy Birthday’ Suit Resolved: The Most-Sung Song Is Free for All

In a rare victory for the commons, “Happy Birthday to You” enters the public domain today, finally freed from a copyright long claimed by Warner/Chappell Music. Though Judge George H. King of the federal district court in Los Angeles initially ruled last September that the copyright was not valid, the company battled on, perhaps because with no rival as the most widely recognized and frequently sung song in the English language, the tune has steadily generated some $2 million a year for the publishing company. Read more about 'Happy Birthday' Suit Resolved: The Most-Sung Song Is Free for All »

UC to Create Gun Research Project: California Goes Where the Feds “Can’t or Won’t Go”

The California Legislature’ recent decision to establish a firearms research center in the University of California system has stimulated the expected response: Public health and gun control advocates are heartened and Second Amendment stalwarts are up in arms. But both sides profess to be in accord on one point: The need for reliable data on guns. Where they differ, of course, is on the definition of reliable data. Read more about UC to Create Gun Research Project: California Goes Where the Feds "Can't or Won't Go" »

Not Supremely Tech-Savvy—Can High Court Keep Up With the Cyber Revolution?

A popular opinion on the Internet lately is that the members of the Supreme Court are a bit superannuated. You know: supremely old, dated, over the Capitol Hill, if you will. The presumption seems to be that with our geriatric justices aged to imperfection, they’re not only physically impaired, but technologically impaired as well. Read more about Not Supremely Tech-Savvy—Can High Court Keep Up With the Cyber Revolution? »

Capturing the College Vote: Law Students’ Bill to Register for Classes and Voting

What to do about typically anemic voter turnout among young people? Two UC Berkeley law students are behind a proposal that would automatically register students to vote when they enroll for classes in any public college or university in California.

Berkeley Law third-year Cindy Dinh and first-year Paul Monge drafted the bill with its sponsor, Assemblymember David Chiu, D-San Francisco. He accepted their idea as part of “There Ought to Be a Law” a program, which allows people to submit plans to change or create laws. Read more about Capturing the College Vote: Law Students' Bill to Register for Classes and Voting »

‘This Is Not a Stunt:’ Behind the Campaign to Force Politicians to Wear Sponsor Labels

NASCAR drivers, golfers and tennis players won’t be the only ones wearing patches touting their sponsors if a San Diego millionaire has his way. Republican entrepreneur John Cox is bankrolling a proposed initiative for the November ballot that would require members of the California Assembly and State Senate to wear stickers or badges emblazoned with the names of their top 10 donors. Read more about 'This Is Not a Stunt:' Behind the Campaign to Force Politicians to Wear Sponsor Labels »

All’s Well That Tends Wells? New State Law To Control Sucking Up of Water

The drought gets a lot of undeserved blame for California’s water crisis. Naturally, four dry years have exacerbated the problem, but the real culprit is the state’s Gold Rush–era water law, which has allowed landowners to sink wells that suck ever deeper and drier— unfettered by any accountability to their neighbors, their region, or the state. Historically low groundwater levels have resulted, spawning all kinds of Wild West drama. The Central Valley is sinking! A thousand Tulare County wells go dry! Read more about All's Well That Tends Wells? New State Law To Control Sucking Up of Water »

Are Journalism Schools Just Whistling Past the Graveyard—or Resuscitating the News Biz?

The keynote speaker at the 2014 commencement of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism—an elite institution that prepares students for a profession in which the prospects are, let’s face it, a little touch-and-go at the moment— was a former small-time drug dealer and heavy-duty coke addict who had been in and out of rehab five times, a “fat thug” (in his own words) who’d been known to beat women and wave a gun around on occasion. Read more about Are Journalism Schools Just Whistling Past the Graveyard—or Resuscitating the News Biz? »

From the Winter 2015 Breaking News issue of California.

Doing It Like Lincoln: These Aspiring Lawyers Kick It Old School—By Skipping Law School

When Yassi Eskandari-Qajar graduated from UC Berkeley in 2011, she was prepared to go to law school. Prepared, but not excited.

As an undergrad she had found herself drawn to social justice work, and law school seemed in her future. But that idea curdled after she consulted several law students. She didn’t even need to hear them speak: The stress and misery of their experience, she says, was practically etched in their faces. Read more about Doing It Like Lincoln: These Aspiring Lawyers Kick It Old School—By Skipping Law School »

California Consequences: What If High Court Bans Race Preferences in College Admissions?

Almost lost amid the recent flurry of marquee U.S. Supreme Court rulings—including one endorsing same-sex marriage and another upholding Obamacare—was a judicial move that could have a huge impact on who gets into top colleges. The justices, by opting to reconsider a case that challenges the University of Texas’s use of race and ethnicity to select students, signaled that they may be ready to effectively end affirmative action in college admissions nationwide. Read more about California Consequences: What If High Court Bans Race Preferences in College Admissions? »

Catching the Brain in a Lie: Is “Mind Reading” Deception Detection Sci-Fi—or Science?

Ever since the inception of our species, humans have wanted to peer inside each other’s minds. A major reason we want to do this is because we lie. We lie a lot, and on the whole, we are quite good at it. The capacity for deception is possibly one of the most significant cognitive gifts we received through evolution.

But it turns out that we lack an equal genius for spotting deception. Instead we keep trying to capitalize on technology—hoping it can do the detecting for us. Read more about Catching the Brain in a Lie: Is "Mind Reading" Deception Detection Sci-Fi—or Science? »

The Mountains Are Calling: Cal Says Farewell to Lair of the Bear Extraordinaire Bob Merritt

The Lair of the Golden Bear lost one of its best friends, Moraga lost one of its founding fathers, the law lost an eminent scholar and practitioner, many worthy causes lost one of their biggest benefactors, a remarkable family lost its beloved patriarch, and Top Dog lost its best customer on February 22, when Bob Merritt died at age 74 from complications following heart surgery. There will be a celebration of his life at Cal Shakes in Orinda on Sunday, May 31. Read more about The Mountains Are Calling: Cal Says Farewell to Lair of the Bear Extraordinaire Bob Merritt »

Got Your Number: Cyber-attacks Make Us Rethink the Idea of Social Security Numbers

Nearly every 12 hours, on average in 2014, there was an institutional data breach somewhere in the United States—a record 783 cases reported last year, according to the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center. And the dire consequence is that these attacks give criminals access to what security experts call “the keys to the kingdom”: our Social Security numbers. Read more about Got Your Number: Cyber-attacks Make Us Rethink the Idea of Social Security Numbers »

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