“Fire in the hole” and YouTube apologies

Good Morning Silicon Valley reports that a judge ordered several Florida teens to post an apology video to YouTube after they “threw soda at a Taco Bell worker through a drive-through window and proudly posted their actions on YouTube.”  This sorry conduct is called “fire in the hole.”

According to The Today Show:

The “fire in the hole” prank is popular on YouTube, and even today it’s not hard to find plenty of examples there. But [victim Jessica] Ceponis didn’t know that then; she thought it was a personal attack on her. Then a co-worker told her that it was a video prank that was posted online, first on a prank site and then on YouTube.

Ceponis went from feeling victimized to being very angry. She viewed the video and tracked one of the boys to his MySpace site, where she befriended him. She eventually found out where he lived and called his mother, who gave her the name of the other boy.

Thanks to Ceponis’ detective work, both boys were charged with assault as juveniles and were ordered to perform 100 hours of community service, pay the Taco Bell restaurant where Ceponis worked for the costs of cleaning up the mess, and post an apology video on YouTube.

There’s no doubt that the instant notoriety of YouTube and other Web 2.0 sites can encourage those wanting their 15 minutes of fame.  But it also shows that victims might use those same sites to track down wrongdoers.

What about the shaming aspect of this case, i.e., the mandatory YouTube apology, found here?  I understand why the teens — as juveniles — weren’t ordered to show their names or faces.  But it’s hard to see how anonymous YouTube apologies serve much in the way of either specific or general deterrence.

BOGO day for patents at the Supreme Court

SCOTUSblog reports that the Supreme Court today issued decisions in two high-profile patent cases. According to SCOTUSblog, Microsoft won (7-1) in Microsoft v. AT&T, and in KSR v. Teleflex, a unanimous Court ruled that the Federal Circuit had applied too narrow a standard for determining “obviousness.”

Note: BOGO means “buy one, get one free.”

Courtrooms, Razrs, and ringtones


New Year’s Resolution: catching up on my blogging. Along those lines, my St. Thomas colleague Fred Light brought to my attention last term to an interesting administrative order from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The order, entitled In re: Cellular Phone and Electronic Equipment Usage in the Courthouse, addresses legitimate concerns over the presence and use of cell phones — and particularly camera phones — in the courtroom. It designates persons who can bring cell or camera phones to court but warns that “[n]o cellular phones of any kind may be used in a courtroom or jury deliberations room and no photographs of any kind may be taken in any federal courthouse facility.” Penalties for violations include 30 days in jail and/or a fine of $5000 and/or punishment for contempt of court.

Woe to the first person in a Miami courtroom whose Motorola Razr blares out Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida as a ringtone.

Thanks to dreamingyakker at Flickr, who licensed the photo through this Creative Commons license.

LabCorp v. Metabolite dismissed

The Supreme Court issued a decision this morning dismissing the writ of certiorari in Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings v. Metabolite Laboratories, Inc. as improvidently granted. Justice Breyer, joined by Justices Stevens and Souter, dissented from the dismissal.

Decision here. Discussion at Patently-O here.