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Intel v. Hamidi and linking technologies


The September issue of Red Herring magazine ran an article on the Intel v.
Hamidi lawsuit. Briefly: Intel is suing an ex-employee based on e-mails he
sent to employees. In Intel using the 'trespass to chattels' doctrine the
article claims that the fallout from the case could be damaging (a la "In
the future...companies could be sued for trespass to chattels just for
linking to other sites.") My question to the forum is what potentially
damaging effect said fallout could have on linking technologies (thinking
here specifically of OpenURL and its institutional service component).

Full article: http://www.redherring.com/mag/issue117/4494.html

Kind regards, Jennifer De Beer

Some excerpts:

'The Lone Ranger and the chip maker 
Intel claims his emails are a form of trespassing. Ken Hamidi says they're
a form of free speech. The court case could turn AOL Time Warner and
Google into outlaws.

By Allyce Bess 
September 17, 2002 

...Mr. Hamidi...was fired from Intel in 1995 after a long workers'
compensation battle, sent six separate email messages to between 8,000 and
35,000 Intel employees over a two-year period. The notes warned of what he
says are the chip giant's abusive and discriminatory employment practices.
Intel fought with all its legal might to bar any further electronic
missives, winning a court injunction against him on November 17, 1998....

Mr. Hamidi has Intel right where he wants it: before the California
Supreme Court. The court will probably hear oral argument later this year
and could decide the fate of Mr. Hamidi--and perhaps everyone who uses
email--as early as the beginning of 2003. Intel v. Hamidi is one of the
most talked about and disputed cases in the history of Internet law, and
its outcome could have an impact far beyond the state of California. "It
will be the first state supreme court to rule on the issue, and because so
much of the tech industry is based in California, its decision will likely
be influential," says Mark Lemley, a professor at the University of
California at Berkeley's Boalt School of Law who co-wrote an amicus brief
to the supreme court urging review of the lower court's decision...

At the heart of the case is an ancient doctrine known as "trespass to
chattels." The doctrine has been dragged out from under the rock of
obscurity by lawyers fighting spam--the annoying, unsolicited emails that
sell anything and everything. Trespass to chattels prohibits the meddling
with, temporary possession of, and damage to the private property of
another person...

Depending on how the case is decided, any electronic signal could
constitute a trespass....

"One of the reasons the Internet is good is the transaction costs are low.
You publish, you link, you surf seamlessly and easily," says Lee Tien, an
attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a civil liberties
advocacy group. "What trespass to chattels does, as applied in this
ruling, is put exclusionary fences around Web sites, email servers, and
any piece of equipment hooked to the Internet."

In the future, says Mr. Tien, companies could be sued for trespass to
chattels just for linking to other sites."...'

Copyright 2002 RHC Media, Inc.