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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Law, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 430
1. Gaye vs. Thicke: How blurred are the lines of copyright infringement?

“Blurred Lines” and Thicke’s overwhelming success have been eclipsed by the popularity of the recent federal court case, in which a jury decided that its creators infringed upon the copyright of Marvin Gaye’s 1977 Billboard Hot 100 chart topper, “Got to Give It Up.”

The post Gaye vs. Thicke: How blurred are the lines of copyright infringement? appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. Sentencing terrorists: key principles

In July 2014 Yusuf Sarwar and his associate, Mohammed Ahmed, both aged 22, pleaded guilty to conduct in preparation of terrorist acts, contrary to s5 of the Terrorism Act. Sarwar was given an extended sentence (for ‘dangerous’ offenders under s226A of the Criminal Justice Act 2013) comprising 12 years and eight months custody, plus a 5 year extension to his period of release on licence.

The post Sentencing terrorists: key principles appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. Independent water providers in Kisumu and Addis Ababa

In order to build the future we want, we must consider the part that water plays in our ecosystems, urbanization, industry, energy, and agriculture. In recognition of this challenge, the United Nations celebrates World Water Day on 22 March each year, including this year’s theme: ‘Water and Sustainable Development’.

The post Independent water providers in Kisumu and Addis Ababa appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. Changing conceptions of rights to water?

What do we really mean when we talk about a right to water? A human right to water is a cornerstone of a democratic society. What form that right should take is hotly debated. Recently 1,884,790 European Union (EU) citizens have signed a petition that asks the EU institutions to pass legislation which recognizes a human right to water, and which declares water to be a public good not a commodity.

The post Changing conceptions of rights to water? appeared first on OUPblog.

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5. Is privacy dead?

In the 1960s British comedy radio show, Beyond Our Ken, an old codger would, in answer to various questions wheel out his catchphrase—in a weary, tremulous groan—‘Thirty Five Years!’ I was reminded of this today when I realized that it is exactly 35 years ago that my first book on privacy was published. And how the world has changed since then!

The post Is privacy dead? appeared first on OUPblog.

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6. Interpreting the laws of the US Congress

The laws of US Congress—federal statutes—often contain ambiguous or even contradictory wording, creating a problem for the judges tasked with interpreting them. Should they only examine the text or can judges consult sources beyond the statutes themselves? Is it relevant to consider the purposes of lawmakers in writing law?

The post Interpreting the laws of the US Congress appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. What are this year’s most notable cases in law?

As part of our online event, Unlock Oxford Law, we asked some of our expert authors to identify the most important case of the past year in their area of law. From child slavery to data privacy, we've highlighted some of the most groundbreaking and noteworthy cases below.

The post What are this year’s most notable cases in law? appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. Nonviolence, revolution, and the Arab Spring

In 2011, the Middle East saw more people peacefully protesting long entrenched dictatorships than at any time in its history. The dictators of Tunisia, Egypt, and Yemen were deposed in a matter of weeks by nonviolent marches. Described as 'the Arab Spring', the revolution has been convulsing the whole region ever since.

The post Nonviolence, revolution, and the Arab Spring appeared first on OUPblog.

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9. The visual, experiential, and research dimensions of police coercion

Over the past year the number of questionable police use-of-force incidents has been ever present. The deaths of Eric Garner in New York, Michael Brown in Missouri, and 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Ohio, are but just a few tragic cases.

The post The visual, experiential, and research dimensions of police coercion appeared first on OUPblog.

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10. Losing control: radical reform of anti-terror laws

The violent progress of the Islamic State (IS) through towns and villages in Iraq has been swift, aided by foreign fighters from Britain. IS has now taken control of large swathes of Iraq and there are growing concerns amongst senior security officials that the number of British men and women leaving their country to support and fight alongside the extremist group is rising.

The post Losing control: radical reform of anti-terror laws appeared first on OUPblog.

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11. Racial terror and the echoes of American lynchings

In February, the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery Alabama released a report, Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror. In researching for the report, EJI examined the practice of lynching in twelve southern states between Reconstruction and 1950. The report's conclusions and recommendations provide important lessons about the past, present, and future of society.

The post Racial terror and the echoes of American lynchings appeared first on OUPblog.

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12. Domestic violence: still a women’s issue?

In 1878, Frances Power Cobbe had published in Contemporary Review an essay entitled ‘Wife Torture in England’. That essay is noted for the its influence on the Matrimonial Causes Act 1878 that, for the first time, allowed women living in violent relationships to apply for a separation order. In the intervening 150 years, concern about violence experienced by women at the hands of their husbands, boyfriends, ex-husbands, ex-boyfriends, and other family members has reached around the world.

The post Domestic violence: still a women’s issue? appeared first on OUPblog.

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13. Remembering women sentenced to death on International Women’s Day

In May 2014, in Sudan, Meriam Ibrahim was sentenced to death for the ‘crime’ of ridda (apostacy) and to 100 lashes for the ‘offence’ of zena (sexual immorality). The case generated international outrage among those who care about women’s rights and religious freedom.

The post Remembering women sentenced to death on International Women’s Day appeared first on OUPblog.

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14. Behind-the-scenes at the UK Law Teacher of the Year Award

Professor Jane Holder of University College London has been named Law Teacher of the Year 2015. The prestigious national teaching award, which is sponsored by Oxford University Press, was presented at a lunch event held on Friday, 27 February 2015.

The post Behind-the-scenes at the UK Law Teacher of the Year Award appeared first on OUPblog.

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15. How do Russians see international law?

Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 was a watershed in international relations because with this act, Moscow challenged the post-Cold War international order. Yet what has been fascinating is that over the last years, Russia’s President and Foreign Minister have repeatedly referred to ‘international law’ as one of Russia’s guiding foreign policy principles.

The post How do Russians see international law? appeared first on OUPblog.

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16. How do we protect ourselves from cybercrime?

Modern society requires a reliable and trustworthy Internet infrastructure. To achieve this goal, cybersecurity research has previously drawn from a multitude of disciplines, including engineering, mathematics, and social sciences, as well as the humanities. Cybersecurity is concerned with the study of the protection of information – stored and processed by computer-based systems – that might be vulnerable to unintended exposure and misuse.

The post How do we protect ourselves from cybercrime? appeared first on OUPblog.

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17. Surrogacy: how the law develops in response to social change

In its recent decision in Mennesson v. France (App no. 65192/11), the Fifth Section of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that surrogate children—in this case, born in the US and having US citizenship—should not be prevented from registering as French citizens, as this would be a violation of their right to respect for their private life. The Strasbourg court’s view, which is very understandable, is that nationality is an important part of a person’s identity.

The post Surrogacy: how the law develops in response to social change appeared first on OUPblog.

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18. International copyright: What the public doesn’t know

Copyright these days is very high up on the agenda of politicians and the public at large. Some see copyright as a stumbling stone for the development of digital services and think it is outdated. They want to make consumers believe that copyright protection is to be blamed, when music or other ‘content’ is not available online, preferably for free. From Brussels we hear that ‘national copyright silos’ should be broken up, that the EU Internal Market is fragmented when it comes to copyright.

The post International copyright: What the public doesn’t know appeared first on OUPblog.

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19. The bicentenary of the Congress of Vienna (1814–1815)

The centenary of the Great War in 2014 has generated impressive public as well as scholarly attention. It has all but overshadowed some other major anniversaries in the history of international relations and law, such as the quarter-centenary of the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989) or the bicentenary of the Vienna Congress (1814–1815). As with the turn of the year the interest in the Great War seems to be somewhat subsiding, and the anniversary of the most epic and dramatic event of the Vienna period (the Battle of Waterloo of 18 June 1815) is approaching, the commemoration of the Vienna Congress gains a bit of the spotlight.

The Congress of Vienna marked the establishment of a new political and legal order for Europe after more than two decades of turmoil and war following the French Revolution. The defeat of Napoleon (1769–1821) in 1813–1814 by a huge coalition of powers under the leadership of Britain, Russia, Austria, and Prussia gave the victorious powers an opportunity to stabilise Europe. This they intended to do by containing the power of France and recreating the balance between the great powers.

At Vienna, between November 1814 and June 1815, the representatives of more than 200 European polities – many from the now-defunct Holy Roman Empire – met to debate a new European order. The Congress of Vienna stands in the tradition of great European peace conferences, beginning with Westphalia (1648) and continuing with Nijmegen (1678–1679), Rijswijk (1697), Utrecht (1713), Vienna (1738), Aachen (1748), and Paris (1763) to the Paris peace conference that ended the American War of Independence (1783). Yet, in several ways, it was also a departure from it.

Europe after the Congress of Vienna. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons
Europe after the Congress of Vienna. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

At the prior peace conferences, the major order of business had been to agree on the conditions to end war and restore peace. Whereas this implied discussions on the future order of Europe, the major interest was to settle the claims that lay at the origins of the war and the focus was thus largely backwards-looking. In the case of Vienna, peace had already been made between France and the major allies before the conference met. Peace had been formally achieved through the First Peace of Paris of 30 May 1814. This peace had taken the traditional form of a set of bilateral peace treaties between the different belligerents. In this case it concerned six peace treaties between France on the one hand and Britain, Russia, Austria, Prussia, Sweden, and Portugal on the other hand. These treaties were identical but for some additional and secret articles. Professor Parry published the treaty between France and Britain as well as these separate articles (63 CTS 171). On 20 July 1814, France concluded a seventh peace treaty with Spain (63 CTS 297). Article 32 of the identical treaties provided for a general congress at Vienna to ‘complete the provisions of the present Treaty’. The peace treaties contained the major conditions of peace, including the new borders of France. It was left to the Congress to lay out the conditions of the general political and legal order of Europe for the future.

Not even the return of Napoleon from Elba and the eruption of new war diverted the Congress from its forward-looking agenda. The congress was not suspended nor was a new peace treaty made at Vienna. After Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo and the second restoration of the Bourbons to the French throne, a new set of peace treaties was made under the Second Peace of Paris of 20 November 1815 (65 CTS 251), between France and each of the four great powers of the coalition. Numerous other powers later acceded to the peace.

As prior conferences had done, the Vienna Congress produced a whole set of – mostly bilateral – treaties. But the conference also chose an innovative form for its closing as its main conclusions were formally laid down in a general instrument, the Final Act of Vienna of 9 June 1815 (64 CTS 453). This act was signed and ratified by the seven powers which had concluded peace at Paris on 30 May 1814, with Spain and some other powers later acceding. Article 118 of the Final Act incorporated 17 treaties which had been concluded at Vienna and annexed them to the instrument, thus committing all signatories of the Final Act to them. In turn, Article 11 of the Second Peace of Paris would later confirm the Vienna Final Act, as well as the First Peace of Paris.

As it is generally established in the scholarly literature, the new order of Europe which came out of the Vienna Congress was based on two main pillars. Firstly, the Vienna powers aspired to restore and safeguard the balance of powers and made this into a leading maxim in drafting the new territorial map of Europe. This was done by reducing France to its borders of 1792 – allowing it to keep some of its conquests from the Revolutionary Period – and strengthening its neighbours. The greatest riddle to the balance of power was the future of Germany. The solution was found somewhere between the extremes of a return of the  division of the Holy Roman Empire, which would have made it defenceless against new French expansionism, and its unification, which would have disrupted the balance of Europe. The new German Confederation would contain only 39 states instead of the over 300 of the old Empire. Within the Confederation, a balance was created between the two leading powers, Austria and Prussia, both of which made considerable territorial gains to ensure their capability to contain France, and each other.

Secondly, the Vienna order was built on the principle that the great powers – a group into which France retook its traditional place – would take common responsibility for the general peace and stability of Europe. The four victorious great powers had already agreed on this principle in different instruments prior to the Vienna Congress, the main one of these being the Treaty of Chaumont of 1 March 1814 (63 CTS 83). This ‘great power principle’ also determined the organisation and working of the congress itself. Although over 200 delegations were present, the major negotiations and decisions took place in the Committees of Five (Britain, Russia, Austria, Prussia, and France) and of Eight (also including Spain, Sweden, and Portugal), relegating the other powers to roles as lobbyists for their own interests. As the chief French negotiator, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (1754–1838) had it, ‘Vienna was the Congress that was not a Congress’. The Final Act did, however, lack a provision for the future implementation of the great power principle apart from the fact that the eight great powers were bound to all its provisions and thus were all guarantors of the territorial and legal order of Europe as laid down in the act. This was remedied by the Second Peace of Paris of 20 November 1815. Article 6 of the bilateral treaty of alliance signed between Britain and Austria provided for the convening of conferences between the great powers to discuss matters of common interest and the maintenance of peace in Europe. Through its incorporation in the identical peace treaty, this committed all its signatories.

The basic features of the reorganisation of Europe from Vienna would survive for more than five decades, until the German unification. Whereas Europe was plagued by numerous armed conflicts and wars, the Vienna order proved at the same time sufficiently grounded and flexible to allow the great powers the leeway necessary to prevent these wars from escalating into a new general war. Even the disruption of the balance of power through the defeat of France in the Franco-German War and the ensuing unification of Germany in 1870 did not lead to an end to the endeavours by the great powers to manage the system and to sustain peace. The breakdown of the peace and the total conflagration of 1914–1918 destroyed the credit of one of the pillars of the Viennese settlement, the balance of power. But the other survived. Even more so, the idea that the best guarantee for order and peace was their joint management by the great powers became the backbone of the institutional organisation of collective security in the League of Nations in 1919 and the United Nations Organisation in 1945.

Headline image credit: Congress of Vienna. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

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20. The Grand Budapest Hotel and the mental capacity to make a will

Picture this. A legendary hotel concierge and serial womaniser seduces a rich, elderly widow who regularly stays in the hotel where he works. Just before her death, she has a new will prepared and leaves her vast fortune to him rather than her family.

For a regular member of the public, these events could send alarm bells ringing. “She can’t have known what she was doing!” or “What a low life for preying on the old and vulnerable!” These are some of the more printable common reactions. However, for cinema audiences watching last year’s box office smash, The Grand Budapest Hotel directed by Wes Anderson, they may have laughed, even cheered, when it was Tilda Swinton (as Madame Céline Villeneuve Desgoffe und Taxis) leaving her estate to Ralph Fiennes (as Monsieur Gustave H) rather than her miffed relatives. Thus the rich, old lady disinherits her bizarre clan in what recently became 2015’s most BAFTA-awarded film, and is still up for nine Academy Awards in next week’s Oscars ceremony.

Wills have always provided the public with endless fascination, and are often the subject of great books and dramas. From Bleak House and The Quincunx to Melvin and Howard and The Grand Budapest Hotel, wills are often seen as fantastic plot devices that create difficulties for the protagonists. For a large part of the twentieth century, wills and the lives of dissolute heirs have been regular topics for Sunday journalism. The controversy around the estate of American actress and model, Anna Nicole Smith, is one such case that has since been turned into an opera, and there is little sign that interest in wills and testaments will diminish in the entertainment world in the coming years.

“[The Vegetarian Society v Scott] is probably the only case around testamentary capacity where the testator’s liking for a cooked breakfast has been offered as evidence against the validity of his will.”

Aside from the drama depicted around wills in films, books, and stage shows, there is also the drama of wills in real life. There are two sides to every story with disputed wills and the bitter, protracted, and expensive arguments that are generated often tear families apart. While in The Grand Budapest Hotel the family attempted to solve the battle by setting out to kill Gustave H, this is not an option families usually turn to (although undoubtedly many families have thought about it!).

Usually, the disappointed family members will claim that either the ‘seducer’ forced the relative into making the will, or the elderly relative lacked the mental capacity to make a will; this is known as ‘testamentary capacity’. Both these issues are highly technical legal areas, which are resolved dispassionately by judges trying to escape the vehemence and passion of the protagonists. Regrettably, these arguments are becoming far more common as the population ages and the incidence of dementia increases.

Wes Anderson, director of The Grand Budapest Hotel. By Popperipopp. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Wes Anderson, director of The Grand Budapest Hotel. By Popperipopp. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The diagnosis of mental illness is now far more advanced and nuanced than it was when courts were grappling with such issues in the nineteenth century. While the leading authority on testamentary capacity still dates from a three-part test laid out in the 1870 Banks v Goodfellow case, it is still a common law decision, and modern judges can (and do) adapt it to meet advancing medical views.

This can be seen in one particular case, The Vegetarian Society v Scott, in which modern diagnosis provided assistance when a question arose in relation to a chronic schizophrenic with logical thought disorder. He left his estate to The Vegetarian Society as opposed to his sister or nephews, for whom he had a known dislike. There was evidence provided by the solicitor who wrote the will that the deceased was capable of logical thought for some goal-directed activities, since the latter was able to instruct the former on his wishes. It was curious however that the individual should have left his estate to The Vegetarian Society, as he was in fact a meat eater. However unusual his choice of heir, the deceased’s carnivorous tendencies were not viewed as relevant to the issues raised in the court case.

As the judge put it, “The sanity or otherwise of the bequest turns not on [the testator’s] for food such as sausages, a full English breakfast or a traditional roast turkey at Christmas; nor does it turn on the fact that he was schizophrenic with severe thought disorder. It really turns on the rationality or otherwise of his instructions for his wills set in the context of his family relations and other relations at various times.”

This is probably the only case around testamentary capacity where the testator’s liking for a cooked breakfast has been offered as evidence against the validity of his will.

For lawyers, The Grand Budapest Hotel’s Madame Céline Villeneuve Desgoffe und Taxis is potentially a great client. Wealth, prestige, and large fees for the will are then followed by even bigger fees in the litigation. If we are to follow the advice of the judge overseeing The Vegetarian Society v Scott, Gustave H would have inherited all of Madame Céline’s money if she was seen to be wholly rational when making her will.

Will disputes will always remain unappealing and traumatic to the family members involved. However, as The Grand Budapest Hotel has shown us, they still hold a strong appeal for cinema audiences and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Feature image: Reflexiones by Serge Saint. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.

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21. Thoughts on teaching in prison on World Day of Social Justice

On an overcast day in January 2013, with no criminal justice background and no real teaching experience, I entered the stark grounds of New Jersey’s only maximum-security women’s prison to co-teach a course on memoir writing. The youngest in a classroom of thirteen women, many of whom were serving life or double-life sentences, plus my two mentors and co-teachers, Courtney Polidori and Michele Tarter, my mind began spinning with concern and doubt.

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22. Trust in the aftermath of terror

In the days following the terrorist attack in Paris on 11 January, thousands of people took to the street in solidarity with the victims and in defense of free speech, and many declared ‘Je suis Charlie’ on social media around the world. The scene is familiar with what we have seen in several other countries in the aftermath of major terrorist attacks.

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23. Is Broadchurch a classic crime drama?

January saw the critically acclaimed and award winning Broadchurch return to our TV screens for a second series. There was a publicity blackout in an attempt to prevent spoilers or leaks; TV critics were not sent the usual preview DVDs. The opening episode sees Joe Miller plead not guilty to the murder of Danny Latimer, a shock as the previous season’s finale ended with his admission of guilt. The change of plea means that the programme shifts from police procedural to courtroom drama – both staples of the TV schedules. Witnesses have to give evidence, new information is revealed through cross-examination, and old scores settled by witnesses and barristers.

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24. Why has France banned surrogate motherhood?

Shortly after it emerged in the 1980s, surrogate motherhood was dealt a severe blow in France by a decision of the Cour de Cassation, its highest civil court: in 1991, it ruled that an agreement entered into by a woman to conceive, bear a child, and relinquish it at birth, albeit for altruistic reasons, was contrary to the public policy principle of unavailability of both the human body and civil status. This prohibition was confirmed in the Bioethics Act of 1994 and enshrined in the Civil Code as a regulation which is “a matter of public policy,” i.e. belonging to a category of mandatory rules created by the state to protect fundamental values of society and from which citizens have no freedom to derogate.

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25. Preparing for IBA and ICSID’s 18th Annual International Arbitration Day

The 18th Annual International Arbitration Day will take place 26-27 February 2015 at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC. A joint conference presented by the International Bar Association (IBA) Arbitration Committee and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), International Arbitration Day will gather lawyers and academics to look back on investment arbitration and discuss its future, a theme that coincides with ICSID’s 50th anniversary.

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