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A Sour Note in the Same Old Song: Determining and Protecting Ownership Rights in the Digital Age By Cory VanDyke

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“One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain.”1 When this lyric was wailed by reggae legend Bob Marley in 1971, the music industry was very different than the one in which artists currently find themselves. Today, the music industry is almost synonymous with “pain” as an increase in illegal downloading has resulted in a large amount of financial loss and legal turmoil. From 2004 to 2009 alone, over thirty billion songs were illegally downloaded, resulting in an overall global market decline of approximately thirty one percent.2 In an effort to thwart digital piracy and protect their works, the recording industry has brought suits against over thirty-five thousand private individuals.3 Though litigation against individual consumers seems to be subsiding, a more important legal battle looms on the horizon due to a change in copyright law that took place nearly forty years ago.

The Copyright Act of 1976, which actually took effect in 1978, arguably gave many musicians the ability to reclaim copyrights in their original creations, starting thirty-five years after a grant of copyrights was made, effectively terminating any rights that the artists may have granted (e.g. to record companies) when their songs were first recorded.4 On … Read the full text …

Municipal Immunity for Discharge: Public Policy Not Serving Its Public By Chris R. Playter

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On June 28, 2011, the Missouri Supreme Court made its decision. It would not grant Jim Brooks’ Application for Transfer from the Missouri Court of Appeals. Public policy had been served.

Approximately three years earlier, Jim Brooks had been employed as a police officer for the City of Sugar Creek.1 While patrolling the city one night in his squad car, he witnessed a vehicle running a red light. After stopping the vehicle, Brooks administered a field sobriety test which the vehicle’s driver was unable to pass.2 From there, he placed the suspect under arrest and transported her back to police headquarters.3

Brooks followed procedure every step of the way as if second nature, unfettered by the suspect’s jabbering about her “close relationship with the Police Department” and her threats to arrange that his job be taken.4 This wasn’t the first time he had encountered such patter, and Brooks had been thoroughly prepared by his extensive training with the Academy to deal with a criminal who will say anything to be released. He could not listen to such nonsense. He had a job to do. He had a duty. Serve the public, protect its citizens, and get drunk drivers off the … Read the full text …

Preventing a Modern Day Cuyahoga: Missouri Should Apply the “Fishable/Swimmable” Water Quality Standard to All Unclassified Waters By Ted Weiss

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In June of 1969, a disturbing event occurred: the Cuyahoga River near Cleveland, Ohio caught fire, burning for more than two hours.1 As the story goes, flammable debris from a nearby steel mill was discharged directly into the river and pooled underneath a railroad truss bridge.2 A spark from a passing rail car ignited the material, setting the river ablaze with flames reaching up to five stories high.3 The Cuyahoga, like many of the nation’s navigable waterways at that time, had long been neglected.4 Industrial facilities and open sewers lining the river’s banks regularly discharged their untreated wastewater directly into river.5 Debris consisting of anything from tires to picnic benches clogged its waters.6 Oil slicks up to two inches thick, spanning the entire width of the river, were not unheard of.7 Through much of the early 20th century, the Cuyahoga was devoid of life, lacking the oxygen content necessary to support fish and many other aquatic species.8 Indeed, the Cuyahoga became so contaminated that it was widely thought of as one of the most polluted rivers in the country.9

The 1969 fire was not the first or even the most intense fire on the Cuyahoga,10 but it had a national … Read the full text …

The Effect of the 2010 Tax Act on Estate Planning With Retirement Plan Benefits By Russell E. Utter Jr.

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Estate planning attorneys have to take many factors into consideration when determining the best way to prepare a client’s estate plan. Many of the considerations are practical ones, such as who should act as a trustee under a trust or as an attorney-in-fact under a Durable Power of Attorney. Some are based upon the varying state laws, such as the amount of assets a surviving spouse is entitled to under an elective share, while others are based on tax implications, such as whether it is more beneficial economically to transfer property to children during lifetime or at death. Oftentimes, the most difficult issues for attorneys are the ones that concern taxation due to the complicated, ever-changing, and unpredictable nature of the tax code.1

At issue in this article are the planning considerations and tax implications that exist when retirement plan benefits make up part of a client’s assets. This article examines the 2010 Tax Act and how it has affected or is likely to affect estate planning decisions when a majority of a client’s assets consist of retirement plan benefits. Section II of this article will look at the transfer tax law prior to the enactment of the 2010 Tax … Read the full text …

Catch Me if You Can: The Race to Obtain Deemed Lawful Status By Jay Playter

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In mid-2005, Farmers Telephone of Riceville was a small, local telephone company serving the rural town of Riceville, Iowa.1 This small telephone company was struggling to maintain customers within its service areas as its traditional business customers migrated to larger, more-populated commercial districts.2 The company raced to update outdated technology, offered new and expanded services, and embarked on an extensive advertising campaign.3 Despite its best efforts, Farmers of Riceville only generated around 14 million minutes of telecommunications traffic for the entire year, amounting to approximately $74,253,000 in gross revenues.4

By January 2007, Farmers Telephone of Riceville was handling nearly 28 million minutes of telecommunications traffic per month.5 This boom in traffic was not the result of Farmers of Riceville dramatically expanding its service area or offering innovative technological services. Nor could the spectacular increase in minutes be attributed to an explosion in the population of Riceville.6 In fact, the increase in minutes was the result of Farmer’s provision of services to “customers”7 that did not even reside in Iowa.8 The enormous upsurge in minutes was a result of Farmer’s partnership with free conference calling companies and engaging in a practice known as “traffic pumping”9 within the telecommunications industry.10

Traffic pumping … Read the full text …

Uncertanties Surrounding Credit for Prior Teaching Experience Under Missouri’s Teacher Tenure Laws By Adam Henningsen

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Teaching has long been a popular choice for those seeking a second career. Although the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education does not keep statistics of the ages of newly hired teachers, in 2010 teachers over the age of 50 made up 18.2% of all the teachers in Missouri public schools.1 It is safe to assume that a decent number of these older teachers came to the profession later in life. Teaching is an attractive option for those seeking a second career for several reasons. Teaching may not be the highest paying career in the world, but the job provides attractive benefits, including a shortened work period and access to a magnificent retirement system. Teaching is also a sensible career option during an economic recession. Compulsory education laws guarantee that there will always be children to educate, no matter what the state of the economy.2 Perhaps the most appealing aspect of teaching for those concerned about the future is the job security the profession provides.

In Missouri, public school teachers receive job security by obtaining tenure status. Missouri’s Teacher Tenure Act, codified in Mo. Rev. Stat. §§ 168.102 to 168.130, provides that any teacher who has been employed as … Read the full text …

Cell Phone Warnings: Consumer Health Protection Versus Commercial Free Speech By Jennifer Brooks

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Growing up, I admired how my father always had the latest gadget or new toy. He loved all of the new inventions the 1980’s had to offer, but what he cherished the most was the invention of the mobile phone. In fact, he was one of the first people I knew to get a car phone in the late 1980’s – a DiamondTel phone, weighing just under five pounds. Next, he graduated to the Motorola StarTAC, the first “clam shell” phone, a style that later became known as the “flip phone.” Throughout my childhood, rarely was there a dinner or a car ride which was not interrupted by the inevitable ringing of his cell phone, making it a large part of our life: at least it was up until September 11, 2001. While that was a horrific day for many families and for our nation, my family experienced a completely unrelated and personal tragedy. My father was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme four, an advanced form of brain cancer. He had a tumor the size of a lemon located behind his right ear; the same side of his head he had been holding his various cell phones up to for almost fifteen … Read the full text …

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