« Fisking NRO's latest anti-Miers manifesto | Main | Beldar on JPod on Merritt on Miers »

Saturday, October 15, 2005

"A" for intentions, "B-" for follow-through

In non-Miers news: Only a lawyer trying to be reader-friendly โ€” but not quite making it โ€” would write a lede like this one:

A federal trial court in Chicago has ruled recently that the ancient legal doctrine of trespass to chattels (meaning trespass to personal property) applies to the interference caused to home computers by spyware.

D'oh! How about, instead, something like this:

A federal trial court in Chicago has ruled recently that the ancient legal doctrine of trespass to chattels (meaning "messin' with someone else's stuff") applies to the interference caused to home computers by spyware.

Good ruling, though, and otherwise a very good news article. Ya hear that, GlaxoSmithKline? (Hat-tip InstaPundit.)

Posted by Beldar at 02:04 AM in Law (2006 & earlier) | Permalink

TrackBacks

Other weblog posts, if any, whose authors have linked to "A" for intentions, "B-" for follow-through and sent a trackback ping are listed here:


Comments

(1) Patrick R. Sullivan made the following comment | Oct 15, 2005 3:52:08 PM | Permalink

Well, I understood his point, and I'm not a lawyer.

(2) made the following comment | Oct 16, 2005 4:13:21 PM | Permalink

Well I didn't, and I'm not stupid.

Would this be legally accurate?

A federal trial court in Chicago has ruled recently that the interference caused to home computers by spyware is a form of "trespassing."

The next paragraph could cite the "trespass to chattels" line.

Dafydd

(3) Beldar made the following comment | Oct 16, 2005 6:31:17 PM | Permalink

Dafydd, I'd have tried to stay away from using the word "trespass" in a further definition of the term because it has multiple legal meanings and some of them are quite different from what most people think the legal meaning is.

Most people think "trespassing" is what you do when you're on someone else's land (a/k/a real property) without permission. And that is one type.

But in legal history, the word had a broader meaning much like that it has in (some versions) of the Lord's Prayer -- "forgive us our trespasses" -- simply meaning "wrongdoing." Thus the law recognized not only trespass to real property, but trespass to personal property (a/k/a chattels, one of which would be your computer) and trespass to person (i.e., personal injury). In its broader senses, "trespass" included just about all tort law (torts being, by definition, noncontractual civil wrongs). But over the last century, all of those bright legal lines have been smudged, and you now have quasi-tort/quasi-contract legal theories like product liability/breach of implied warranty, plus statutory overlays like consumer protection statutes and implied private rights of action, and ....

No, I still like "messin' with someone else's stuff" as the best way to describe what this particular court's ruling was about. ("Stuff" being broad enough to include intangible stuff, like the particular sequencing of magnetized binary bits on your hard drive, even if the bad guy didn't steal or ruin any of those bits themselves.)

(4) Kent made the following comment | Oct 17, 2005 10:49:30 AM | Permalink

Mirabile dictu. The court has solemnly recognized the blatantly obvious -- that planting spyware on someone's computer constitutes "messing with his stuff." D'oh.

Yeah, I know. Sometimes the obvious ain't obvious.

The comments to this entry are closed.