Friday, March 18, 2011

Reclaiming Our Legacies: a progress report

    Thanks to those of you who have offered financial support for our legal challenge of the "terms of use" agreement imposed by, the online site that handles obituaries for the vast majority of U.S. newspapers. I will be happy to contribute the relatively modest fees needed to proceed, and we have found a lawyer who is excited to be involved. He will represent us on a pro bono basis. He retired just a few months ago from a New York firm, where his primary focus was estate law, but doing First Amendment and intellectual property law is what launched his career, and he said he is "psyched" at the prospect
of being back in that arena. I met him when he was a law-school intern at the Manhattan prison-reform agency where I was employed, and we have remained in touch over the years.
   To those who have asked whether the suit will seek compensatory damages, I don't know -- and I doubt that we will until depositions have been conducted. We do not yet know how, and to what extent, Legacy has profited from our intellectual property.
   I hadn't even considered the compensatory aspect -- although I agree it's a legitimate one -- until others raised it. I was simply determined to have Legacy's policies declared illegal and for a cease-and-desist order to be executed.
   But considering how much money and how many people are involved, it's impossible to predict what direction our case will take. 
   Legacy's law firm, Mandell, Menkes, is highly regarded, but our lawyer, who has practiced in New York and Washington, D.C. for more than 35 years, and returned to Chicago on New Year's Day, is widely known as an aggressive, principled and creative litigator. We're in good hands, people!