A Brief History of the U.S. Income Tax

Although income taxes were imposed for a brief time during the Civil War and again in the 1890s, it was not until 1913, upon passage of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, that federal income tax became a permanent fixture for U.S. citizens and residents. Since Congress then was invested with Constitutional authority, they acted quickly to legally formalize taxes imposed on the income of individuals and corporations.

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident (indeed, if you reside anywhere income taxes are collected), consider what it takes to comply and make the necessary filings today.

Now take a look at the form that individuals were required by the Internal Revenue Service to file in 1913, the year permanent taxation started: 1913 Form 1040.

Do we really need to say anything more? Happy April 15!!

If you need advice or guidance about income taxes, in the United States or anywhere, please don’t contact me, Joe Rosenbaum (jrosenbaum@reedsmith.com).

The Only U.S. President Elected under the 12th Amendment is...

The 12th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides for the election of the president and vice president by the electoral college, and if no candidate obtains a majority, the House of Representatives chooses the President.

The only president of the United States to be elected by the House of Representatives under the 12th Amendment is John Quincy Adams.

In 1824, four major candidates vied for the presidency: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, William H. Crawford and Henry Clay. In the election, John Quincy Adams received 40,000 fewer votes than Andrew Jackson – Jackson received 153,544 votes out of a total of 356,038 cast in that election. Adams also garnered fewer electoral college votes than Jackson (Jackson had 99, Adams 84 and the other 78 votes going to other candidates). Since no candidate had a majority of electoral college votes, the presidential election went to the House of Representatives to select the president from the top three electoral college vote recipients – Jackson, Adams and Crawford. Clay was eliminated from contention, having the lowest number of votes. But in addition to being a presidential candidate, Henry Clay was the powerful Speaker of the House at the time. He threw his support to Adams – the tale told that he did so in return for his appointment as Secretary of State. Clay’s endorsement ultimately won the day: John Quincy Adams became president and Henry Clay was appointed Secretary of State, a position he held from 1825-1829.

...and the Oscar Selfie Goes To or (the Unexpected Virtue of Being a Fish)

Everyone knows there is competition, hype and controversy over nominations and awards at each year’s contest run by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. The competition culminates in an annual show broadcast around the globe and endearingly referred to as the "Academy Awards," or simply the "Oscars" – referring to the golden statuette given out during the broadcast and evidencing the winners. In recent years, the hosts of the Oscar broadcasts – some controversial and others not – have changed almost as often as the tidy-whities displayed by Michael Keaton  in this year’s Best Picture winner Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). But do you know the legal controversy surrounding the Oscars?

Here are the facts:

Ellen DeGeneres wanted to take a "selfie" together with some of the most famous people in Hollywood, and by "tweeting" the photo, it become the most re-tweeted Twitter post ever. The camera used for the selfie was a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Samsung is one of the advertisers with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and Samsung gave it to Ellen for promotional purposes at the event. We don’t know of any agreement between Samsung and either the Academy or Ellen DeGeneres regarding the device or any photos or messages using the Galaxy Note 3. We do know Ellen did not actually take the picture. To get everyone she wanted to fit into the picture, Ellen passed the camera to Bradley Cooper, who had longer arms. He got everyone in the frame and pressed the shutter.

Here is the photo and tweet that resulted, and which immediately went viral when posted on Twitter.

which she then ‘Tweeted’


The picture went viral immediately, has been tweeted more than any photo in the history of Twitter, and the Associated Press asked Ellen if they might use her photo as part of its coverage of the Oscars – which she graciously allowed.

Now the legal plot thickens. Who actually owns the copyright to the picture that was taken and posted? First, we know that even though the photo was taken with a Samsung promotional camera given to Ellen for the event, Samsung has denied ownership rights to the picture. We also know there is strong legal precedent for the copyright belonging to Bradley Cooper. After all, he took the photo, and under traditional principles of authorship under copyright law, the owner of a copyright is the author of the work. In the case of photos, the author is usually the person who snaps the shutter and takes the picture. Indeed, Ellen’s tweet acknowledges that Bradley took the photo. To add to the fun, Twitter's copyright page notes that: "In general, the photographer and NOT the subject of a photograph is the actual rights holder of the resulting photograph." Maybe Ellen and Bradley should be co-authors and co-owners?

Did Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, Kevin Spacey, Julia Roberts, or Jennifer Lawrence help compose or frame the picture? Direct the photo shoot? Then again, isn’t Ellen the photographer/director of the photo shoot, and all the others – including Bradley – simply part of the "crew"? Their compensation is additional worldwide publicity they presumably consented to when they appeared in the photo. Unfortunately, the Copyright Act in the United States requires a "work for hire" agreement to be in writing and be made before the work is created (otherwise an assignment is necessary), and I won't even dare to get into the question of international rights and treaties that need to be taken into account when digital content goes viral across national boundaries.

It's not likely anyone will sue anyone over the photo or the tweet - celebrities don’t mind the publicity, especially the "good" kind. But it is a real example of some of the legal issues involved when people snap digital pictures and post them on the Internet. Ultimately, the question arises as to who has the exclusive right, under the copyright laws, to exploit the use of the picture; and although there are a few limited exceptions, any use or distribution of the photo without the owner's consent would infringe upon the author's rights.

In this situation, the AP asked Ellen for permission to use the photo as part of its editorial coverage of the event. But does Ellen own the photo? In other words, does she have the rights needed to consent? Remember, the AP distributes the image to its own subscribers around the world to use for their newsgathering and reporting activities.

Historically, when the courts were asked to adjudicate ownership of copyright in photographs, they awarded ownership to the individual who pressed the button to activate the shutter. Who knew that a "photographer" would now be any one of 6 billion people, each with a mobile, wireless digital device in his or her hand.

Now all that said, I don’t know what the fuss is about. Oscar is not an award or even a celebrity. Oscar is a fish...


… and for those scientists at the Academy, it's a fish known as astronotus ocellatus, naturally found in South America.

Yes, digital rights are complicated. When your photo includes bystanders, friends, or trademarks and you post them online, you either qualify for some exemption or exception when you do so, or you start to inadvertently create a tangled web (pardon the pun) of legal issues. That's why you need the resources, experience and capabilities of the Entertainment & Media Industry Group at Reed Smith. Feel free to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or any of the lawyers with whom you regularly work at Reed Smith.

The 12th Amendment in U.S. History

The 12th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified in 1804. It provided for the election of the president and vice president by the electoral college and not directly by popular vote. The 12th Amendment also states that if no candidate obtains a majority of the electoral college votes, the House of Representatives (one vote per state) chooses the president and the Senate chooses the vice president. Bet you didn’t know that!

Now the hard part.


Who is the only president of the United States to actually be elected by the House of Representatives under the 12th Amendment?

mHealth - Mobile Health Care

Last year, I was invited to participate in and present a paper at the "mHealth and the Law Workshop" in Washington, D.C. [See mHealth - The Future of Mobile Health Care].

Then last month, I was invited to participate in a panel at the Mobile FirstLook 2015 Conference in New York, and as a result of my participation, the editors of Mobile Marketer asked if they could republish (with attribution of course), the paper.

In case you missed it, you can view "Exploring legal challenges to fulfilling the potential of mHealth" online, or you can download the original from the Legal Bytes posting above.

As always, if you have questions, or need advice or guidance, just contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or the lawyer with whom you regularly work at Reed Smith.

Looking Forward to 2015

As we say goodbye to 2014 . . .

For those of you who are loyal readers and followers of Legal Bytes, you know this is the time of year when I break tradition and write a non-legal, personal and philosophical Legal Bytes post. If ancient Babylonians, who celebrated the New Year upon seeing the first new moon after the vernal equinox, could start a tradition that lasted for about 4,000 years – the least I can do is try to keep up. Although my tradition doesn't date back nearly that far, this post will contain no links to distract you (until the very end when hopefully it won’t be a distraction). Nor will there be any citations to legal doctrine, references or background information. I won’t try to dazzle you with facts or intrigue you with today's news. This is my opportunity to philosophize and dispense my thoughts and opinions – with absolutely no credentials, qualifications or expertise to do so.

There are two traditions I wish to continue, although I did not originate either one. First, let me take this the opportunity to wish each of you, your families, friends, loved ones and, yes, even an enemy or two, a beautiful and joyous holiday season and a healthy, happy new year, filled with wonder and magic, health and joy, challenge and opportunity, and prosperity and success. Second, as many of you know, for numerous years I have avoided sending out mass mailings of cards and gifts. Not only are they too lost in the seasonal flurry or delayed by the strain on delivery services, but the truth is that most of us don’t really need or want the trinkets that never express the real sense of appreciation or gratitude we might feel for friends and colleagues, families and loved ones, wherever they may be. We might deceive ourselves into believing it "personalizes" the warmth of the season, but after a few weeks they ultimately go into a drawer or the trash bin, or they are relegated to a closet filled with decades of Lucite, or sometimes they are re-gifted. In reality, there is nothing really personal about that process.

As many of you may already know, my second tradition is one I’ve borrowed from an old friend years ago, and which was originally intended to replace the mass cards, emails and impersonal trinkets with a more meaningful gift. Each year, I make a contribution to a charitable organization for all the family members, friends, loved ones, colleagues and acquaintances I want to honor, in memory of those I have lost this past year, and in recognition of those who have given me a reason to celebrate – in all, far too many to list and certainly all more deserving of something better than a card or bottle of wine. In that spirit, as I have done for a number of years, I have made a donation to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital – my way of trying to help some children in need who might benefit from the kindness of a stranger. Sometimes, random acts of generosity and kindness can bring surprising results – whether a smile, an unexpected warmth of spirit, or simply knowing it’s not all that difficult to do something to help make the world a better place – even just a little. Try it sometime.

So on to philosophy. Please pull up a chair, put your other distractions away for just a moment, pour a glass of your favorite beverage, sit back and enjoy . . . and as always, thank you.

When I thought about this year's "philosophical" posting, I reflected on the events of 2014, both personal and around the world. So much of the world is in turmoil. There were so many natural disasters and accidents that we cannot control, that we might be tempted to forget there is still so much inhumane treatment of other living beings, warfare, poverty and hunger that we might be able to have an effect upon. There is simply too much benign neglect or indifference. Perhaps we have become de-sensitized because of the incessant barrage of news coverage of atrocities, incidents and violence. Whether intentional or unwitting, active or passive, malicious or benign, there is still too much hatred being taught to children around the world, too many acts of prejudice offered as an excuse for violence, and too many injustices used as justification for condoning inexcusable treatment of others. Actually, "too much" is probably an inappropriate term. If we can use a phrase such as "zero tolerance" for drunk driving, how can we not adopt the same standard for the way we need to treat each other. Is it the same thought process that cannot really explain why we use tranquilizer guns for animals, but real bullets for human beings – unless we accept the fact that we really do want to hurt another human being. We seem to have forgotten, or we simply ignore, the value of diversity and tolerance. With more information at our fingertips than any other time in history, it sometimes seems we have still learned little from the past – or have we chosen to ignore the past?

This year witnessed my own personal loss. After years of declining health and increasing senile dementia, my mom passed away at the age of 93. She didn’t always have an easy life, but the last years were richer with grandchildren and a great grandchild, and hopefully she was well taken care of as her physical and mental health declined. After she passed away, I recall taking comfort in a book the director of the funeral home gave me: The Orphaned Adult: Confronting the Death of a Parent by Marc D. Angel. It was strangely comforting, helping me understand that the lack of physical dependency as an adult doesn’t necessarily change the emotions and feelings one experiences from the loss of a parent – knowing, even as a senior citizen, that a person can still be an orphan!

Indeed, there were numerous tragedies, major and minor, personal and global this year. We don’t have to look farther than today’s newspapers or blog postings. So if you stop reading now, you might think this is an "all hope is lost" message; but please don’t stop reading. It’s not.

We all suffer adversity and, yes, the world could and should be a better place. Legal professionals try to make the world better by respecting the rule of law and participating in systems they hope will achieve some measure of justice. Medical professionals try to treat patients, find cures, and rebuild broken bones and broken hearts. Musicians fill the world with joy. Authors and film-makers help us gain insight and entertain us along the way. Builders and plumbers and electricians give us comforts we might never knew existed without their skills. Teachers illuminate the minds of young and old. Truth be told, there are more people doing good, more people helping others, more people trying to make the world a better place. But that doesn’t make headlines, does it? Newspapers aren’t filled with stories of Lorraine who gave a homeless man a few dollars to buy some soup yesterday or Rafael who gave an unemployed single mother a job he really didn’t need to fill, so she could support her family. We don’t broadcast the fact that our police, firefighters, members of the armed forces and so many other public servants tirelessly risk their own lives and well-being every day, in order to serve us – often under difficult circumstances and sometimes at the expense of their own safety.

Sadly, we have found no way to regularly and publicly express our thanks or appreciation to those who help make or keep this world a better place, every single day. Perhaps if we did, more people would want to do good than those who appear in headlines!

Let me give you an example. In my career as a commercial-transactional lawyer, I have had the privilege of working with many great business people, as well as legal mentors and colleagues. I’ve almost equally divided my legal career between being an in-house, corporate lawyer, and an outside (dare I say out-house?) private practitioner. Among other things, my work has provided me the opportunity to handle and negotiate probably thousands of deals and contracts – over the more than three decades of legal work (has it really been that long?). It has required me to review thousands of pieces of advertising and marketing, commercials and product placements, video game and virtual world screen shots, scripts, storyboards, screenplays, and memoranda. My responsibilities often involve not only counseling clients about the legal risks, or preventing legal or regulatory woes, but also considering what the right thing may be to do in particular situations. While I am careful to separate the imposition of legal discipline from personal or commercial opinion or observation, I hope my clients and colleagues will attest to the fact that I am hardly shy about offering my opinion when and if the situation warrants. I would like to believe, as do others that serve as my role models, that being more than just a legal representative – being a true counselor and advisor – is something clients value.

So what’s the point. Well, a number of years ago someone wiser than I pointed out an interesting fact and a corresponding dilemma. Almost none of the contracts, transactions, deals, reviews or matters that I worked on resulted in contentious proceedings that required resolution through litigation, enforcement proceedings or other dispute-resolution intervention. I wasn’t alone. There are others in my profession – indeed in every profession – who pride themselves on being careful and practical in their approach. They want to help, not simply win. Many work steadfastly to be sure parties actually understand contract expectations. They don’t shy away from negotiating difficult areas, and in some cases advise clients to walk away from irreconcilable differences before entering into the agreement. Those who didn’t listen often learned these were the same issues that, when they arose, not surprisingly ended up costing thousands more in legal fees in order to resolve conflicts that never should have occurred.

The dilemma? How do you "value," or even measure, NOT incurring the costs and expenses of litigating a dispute? How much is the time and effort expended to avoid a problem worth? Helping a client avoid paying for a mistake is often met with “why are my legal bills so high” – not with thanks for saving me 10 times as much in court! Don’t get me wrong. Neither I nor my colleagues are perfect. But experience and a degree of caution, mixed with some practical wisdom and common sense, deserve at least some consideration. Business people are often paid to take risks, lawyers are often paid to help prevent them. As with all things in life, there is a healthy balance, and it is often prudent judgment and a collegial working relationship among the disciplines that strike the right balance.

Like good deeds that happen every day, there is no really smart, effective, meaningful way to convince someone that the contract you helped draft and negotiate actually saved them money by not having a troubled relationship ending in litigation. Even after decades of non-contentious, dispute-free relationships, commercial lawyers are only as good as their last deal and as effective as their best discount in helping craft a successful relationship. So it is, too, with those billions of good people on the planet whose daily good deeds – the simple everyday things – help make life a little better.

Perhaps a poor metaphor, but think about all those things that are un-noticed, un-rewarded and in many instances unremarkable. But they happen. There are people, good people, who give their time, their effort and skills, their money – and often at the risk of their lives – to those less fortunate or in need. Whether trying to feed the hungry, educate the illiterate, house the homeless, immunize the population or save the planet . . . some people simply don’t need excuses to do good things. They are trying to make things better – one human being, one animal, one tree – one at a time. Think people are more important than animals, and animals are more important than trees? Really? How long would we exist without chlorophyll? We are in this together. But that isn’t the point, is it? Our natural tendency while reading these words is to prioritize or make judgments. My priorities are better than those of others'. My way of life or view of the world is better than those of others'. Why should you save an animal or a flower, when we can’t even feed starving people or save so many tortured individuals?

I believe the answers lie in some simple beliefs. I believe that diversity allows us to see the wonders of others and appreciate how much we can learn from each other. I believe that tolerance allows us to accept others, celebrating their differences, rather than despising them or seeking to change them to our ways. I believe that forgiveness is a choice we make and one we hope others will remember when the mistakes are ours. I believe that respect is an attitude, manifested by behavior that allows us to avoid doing harm, and enables us to appreciate the values of others.

I believe we can make a difference, and by living our beliefs and passing them on to others – not only in words, but also by example – we build a foundation for trust and friendship that allows people to collaborate and work together, in some cases to become lifelong friends, but most of all to do extraordinary and wonderful things that make all our lives better.

No, we aren’t perfect. But that isn’t a reason to give up; it’s a reason to try harder. Trite as it may sound, random acts of kindness do work. Say hello to people passing in the street. Give something to that homeless person – yes, they may buy whiskey. But they also might buy some warm soup or socks or someday repay the kindness to another if they can. Take a minute to assist someone else who needs help. Smile at people for no reason – they may think you are strange, but it may be contagious. I know this isn’t as easy as it may sound and I am not as good as I should or could be either. But I hope to try harder, starting today. I don’t know if any of us possesses the greatness to change the world, but in this age of crowd-funding and crowd-sourcing, what if we decided to harness the power of the "crowd" to try to do good things.

So as 2014 comes to an end and we get ready to push in 2015, I am reminded of the lyrics of Michael Jackson’s "Man in the Mirror" that tell us that "no message could have been any clearer. If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make that change!"

I want to take this opportunity to wish family and friends, colleagues and acquaintances, clients and adversaries, those who know me far too well and even those who don't have a clue how they received this posted message, a holiday season and year of health, peace, comfort and joy. May those who love you come closer and those who dislike you forget why. Most of all, I wish all of you the extraordinary gift of health, happiness and peace. Warm regards for the holidays and best wishes for the new year.

Sincerely – Joe Rosenbaum

Thank You for 2014 - Best Wishes for 2015

This is the time of year when many of you are celebrating holidays; spending time with family, friends and loved ones; bidding farewell to 2014; and looking forward to the New Year - 2015. A time when many of us pause to reflect on the past year and wonder what the new year will bring. There are people who have touched us and some with whom we've gotten closer; some we have missed and many with whom we resolve to try and be better in the new year; and perhaps a few we might like to forget. We remember those who are no longer with us and appreciate that by remembering them, we keep their spirit - all we have learned from them and all they have meant to us - alive. As 2014 comes to an end, we reflect on friendships and experiences, and use the opportunity to thank those who have helped us in tough times, and those with whom we cherish sharing the good times.

For me, it's a time to resolve to keep doing the good things I've done this past year and to be better about trying to do those things I should have done. This time of year gives me an excuse to say thank you and express appreciation to all those who have enriched my life. If you are reading this, you are part of my audience - part of the fabric of my professional life and, like the threads of that fabric, you have helped me weave the patterns and textures you read in these digital pages. I am grateful for your readership and, in some cases, your friendship. I am always appreciative when you take a moment to read and maybe gain some insight, while being a little entertained.

Thank You

I especially want to thank a few people at Reed Smith like Kaitlin Southron, Lois Thomson and Rebecca Blaw who make this blog happen. These are the people you don't see, but I do! They make Legal Bytes come alive. They are always amazing, consistently awesome and unbelievable under pressure. There are insufficient words to express my gratitude and appreciation - especially when they get my email that says "can we please post this ASAP." Thank you. You make it look easy, you make me look good, and I could not do this without you!

I would also like to thank Carolyn Boyle at the International Law Office (ILO) - the force behind motivating me to push content into the U.S. Media and Entertainment Newsletter; and while I can take credit for the substance and nagging my colleagues to contribute, without her, the thousands of readers who enjoy the links and insights would be waiting far too long. Thank you.

So as 2014 comes to a close and we look forward to 2015, let me also express my appreciation and gratitude to each of you. You motivate me to keep this interesting and exciting - even when I get lazy about posting. My best wishes to each of you, and your families, friends and loved ones, for a wonderful holiday season and a terrific new year, filled with health, happiness and success.

Fraud in Digital Advertising - ANA Report Released

Yesterday (December 9), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) released a study, "The Bot Baseline: Fraud in Digital Advertising," exposing the significant fraud present in media buying on the Internet. The losses to the industry for fraudulent, non-human web traffic are billions per year. Doug Wood, Joe Rosenbaum, Todd Mumford and Debra Dermody worked with the ANA on the project, including suggested language for future contracts that addresses non-human web traffic. You can read and download the entire study or the executive summary originally made available to ANA members, entitled “ANA/White Ops Bot Fraud Initiative, Preview for ANA Member Participants” or both.

As always, if you have questions, need help, want guidance or want to know more about Reed Smith’s advertising, technology and media practice and its resources, experience and capabilities, feel free to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum (jrosenbaum@reedsmith.com), any of the other lawyers who assisted in the preparation of the report or any lawyer with whom you regularly work at Reed Smith (www.reedsmith.com).

mHealth - The Future of Mobile Health Care

Last month, I had the privilege of being invited to attend and make a presentation at an mHealth and the Law Workshop in Washington, D.C., convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. As part my presentation (October 7), I was asked to prepare a brief corresponding paper prognosticating the future of mobile medicine and health care. With permission of the AAAS, I am happy to share that paper with readers of Legal Bytes, and you can read the paper or download a copy for your personal use, right here: mHealth: Looking Forward [PDF].

As always, if you have questions, or need advice or guidance, just contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or the lawyer with whom you regularly work at Reed Smith.

Operation Full Disclosure - The FTC Targets Advertising

Earlier today, the Federal Trade Commission issued a press release indicating that after a review of many national television and print advertisements, warning letters have been sent to a number of companies – including some of the largest advertisers in the United States – noting that they had failed to make adequate disclosures in at least some of their advertising. The initiative, entitled Operation Full Disclosure, is intended to enforce regulations that prohibit advertising that misleads consumers.

The FTC’s targets in this operation are disclosures in fine print, those that were hard to read – even though they contained important information for the consumer. The letters warned advertisers they need to make sure disclosures are clear and conspicuous, and reminded advertisers the disclosures should be close to the claims that are being made. They must not be obscure or disguised with font sizes or colors that make it difficult to read, and on television, they should appear for a long-enough period of time and in a manner that will allow them to actually be read and understood. Consumers should not have to search for them!

Included within each of the FTC letters was a request that each of the advertisers respond back to the FTC with specific actions they individually intended to take regarding their particular advertising, in order to remedy any deficiencies.

You can read the full FTC Press Release and, as always, if you have questions, need help, want guidance, or want to know how best to ensure your advertising and marketing is in compliance with legal and regulatory requirements, just contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, any lawyer in our Advertising, Technology & Media law practice group, or the lawyer with whom you regularly work at Reed Smith.

WOODSTOCK, The Legend at 45!! Need We Say More?

45 years ago, on July 20, 1969 at precisely 10:56 p.m. EDT, American Astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first person to set foot on the moon. Armstrong then stated, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

First man on the moon

Less than a month later, on August 15, 1969, 45 years from today, the festival officially billed as The Woodstock Music and Art Fair, An Aquarian Exposition, began and lasted through August 18th and became legendary - probably never to be replicated in exactly the same way, ever!

The Festival that ultimately became known as “Woodstock” actually never took place in Woodstock, New York (where Bob Dylan lived), but actually was held in the Catskill community of Bethel - 60 miles away - on a 600 acre dairy farm leased to the organizers by Max Yasgur.

. . . . and this is how it all started!


Which event do you remember best?

What One Lawyer Has Learned About Social Media (But There Are Still 5 Days Left)

Last week I received a novel invitation - call it a ‘dare’ from a long-time colleague and friend in a faraway land. He and I have never actually met, but we have interacted so often professionally and we keep trying to figure out how and when we can end up at the same conference, perhaps even sharing a speaking opportunity or panel so we can finally say ‘Hello’ in person - even split a bottle of wine. The invitation was a novel twist on attracting speakers to a professional conference - specifically the 2014 Webit Global Conference to be held in Istanbul.

Although the agenda was pretty full already, the organizers decided to create some ‘buzz’ by allowing people to vote for a few speaking slots as “Audience Choice” selections. Imagine that, a professional conference with a ‘power to the people’ format. While obviously hoping to increase attendance and excitement for the conference, the balloting is online and you don’t have to be registered to vote.

Now I’m wise enough, with enough experience, to appreciate that a practicing lawyer will NEVER win a popularity contest. I mean seriously - who normally says “I love my lawyer and really want to hear him talk!” I believe this to be true, even if we aren’t charging by the hour!

But I do love a good challenge and I thought it would be a good opportunity to conduct an informal, completely unofficial and invalid experiment. So I sent requests to people I’m connected to on LinkedIn, tweeted on Twitter and provided a link, with ‘Please vote for my presentation’ on my email signature block. Here is what I know and what I learned so far:

1. On this Legal Bytes blog, there have been more than 120,000 visitors, with 76,000 of them unique. So far just this month, there have been more than 2,500 visits. My own contacts - friends, family, professional colleagues, adversaries and people I have met over the years - number well over 6,000. As of this morning, I had 3,677 direct connections on LinkedIn. That means, according to the platform, there are 18,240,386 professionals in my network. That’s more than 18 million people! Eat your heart out Ellen and Ashton! Who’s ‘trending’ now?

2. Although Legal Bytes gets posted on Facebook, I don’t use Facebook otherwise and I only have a little over 480 ‘followers’ on Twitter (most of whom I don’t know), but that may simply be because my tweets, like my Facebook posts, are simply feeds from my blog. Perhaps those other 76,000 people are getting their information here and don’t need to duplicate it on Facebook or Twitter. Further study may be required (not really).

3. If you don’t have a Facebook profile, the organizers won’t let you vote - an interesting condition for a professional conference. Not sure why they didn’t pick a different platform or not require any pre-condition of membership in a network.

4. The organizers apparently won’t let you vote even if you are registered with Facebook, if you don’t have enough ‘friends’ on your profile (a few of my lawyer friends tried to vote and they are just as unpopular as I am). I’m guessing the conference organizers only want people who can spread the word to lots of others.

5. As of this morning I had 92 (yes, 92) votes. See for yourself. Although I can’t really tell how many total potential speakers entered the contest, I am number 234 and some people have almost 1,000 votes already.

So far, my little experiment has led me to the following observations:

(a) My connections don’t vote, don’t want to vote or are out of the office and will get back to me as soon as they return;
(b) My connections really don’t like lawyers;
(c) My connections either don’t like this lawyer; prefer not to vote for this lawyer; prefer not to vote at all; didn’t qualify to vote (I may ask for a recount); or didn’t like the description.
(d) My thousands, hundreds of thousands and even millions of linked and networked connections don’t mean that much - it’s the people who know me that really count.

Perhaps there are or will be other lessons. After all, there are still 5 days left and if I ultimately end up with more than 18 million votes, I will be forced to admit I was totally wrong about the real power of social networks.

Useless But Compelling Facts - July 17, 2014 Answer

Our most recent Useless But Compelling Fact question asked if you knew where the character Batman came from, and we are happy to provide the answer.

Batman (or the Bat Man), the character, first appeared in May 1939 in Issue # 27 of Detective Comics. Batman would go on to be the star of the title (often written "Detective Comics featuring Batman"), and taking over the logo art on the cover. The comic book issue is considered to be among the most valuable comic books in existence - with one reported sale of a copy in very good (but not mint) condition selling for US$1,075,000. Holy Batman!

Useless But Compelling Facts - July 17, 2014

Some of you know that “Batman Begins” is a 2005 motion picture directed by Christopher Nolan, staring Christian Bale in the lead role as Batman.

The motion picture has an amazing supporting cast that includes such stars as Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman, and tells the origin of the character, beginning with Bruce Wayne's childhood fear of bats. The motion picture is one of a new series of films based on the crime-fighting adventures of the iconic Batman character.

What you may not know is where the character Batman actually comes from . . . if you don’t know, I’ll tell you when we publish the answer . . . next week! But if you do know, send me an email, or better, why not just use the Bat Signal . . .

Useless But Compelling Facts - July 2014 Answer

Earlier this week, recognizing the FIFA World Cup fever sweeping the globe, we asked you to tell us how many "own" goals have been scored thus far in World Cup history. We also asked a bonus question – name the only player in World Cup history to score goals for both teams (his own and the competing team) in the same match.

The answers – both of which Shari Gottesman, longtime friend and Legal Bytes reader, got perfectly right – are:

As of today, 41 own goals have been scored in World Cup play.

In 1978, Ernie Brandts (born Ernstus Wilhelmus Johannes Brandts), playing for the Netherlands, scored an own goal in the 18th minute of play and then a "normal" goal for his team in the 50th minute of the match between the Netherlands and Italy. The Netherlands went on to win that match 2-1.

If you want to really immerse yourself in World Cup trivia:

  • Manuel Rosas scored the first own goal in World Cup play in 1930 in the match between Mexico and Chile
  • In 2002, in Portugal's match against the USA, the USA's Jeff Aggos scored an own goal in the USA net, and in the same game Portugal's Jorge Costa scored in Portugal's net
  • Trinidad and Tobago, in its only appearance, is the only team that has scored more own goals than regular goals in World Cup history. It scored an own goal favoring Paraguay in 2006 and never scored for itself in the match.