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Blogs & Publications

Technology Law Bulletin Summer 2004

Limits to the Copying of Digital Content: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going – by Joseph Laferrera 

Before the ubiquity of the Internet, technology prognosticators spoke longingly of “digital convergence” – a future in which computers would be as likely to play music, record a television show or place a phone call as they were to balance a checkbook or print a letter. To a surprising extent, their predictions are coming true. But while technologists may have been well prepared, lawmakers seem to have been caught by surprise. Statutes and legal rulings simply did not anticipate the scope or speed of this sea change, leaving widespread uncertainty about how the law treats digital information.

New Massachusetts Business Corporation Law by Peter Moldave

Massachusetts has enacted a new business corporation law (Chapter 156D) which takes effect on July 1, 2004, replacing Chapter 156B. In general, Massachusetts-incorporated companies are not required to take specific action in order to be compliant with the new law, but may wish to do so in order to take advantage of new flexibility enabled by the change.

New FASB Treatment of Stock Options

The Financial Accounting Standards Board recently circulated an exposure draft of a proposed Statement of Financial Accounting Standards. If adopted, the new standards will dramatically alter the accounting treatment of compensatory stock options. At present, the grant of most stock options results in no accounting charge. Under the new accounting rules, public companies will have to value the options on the date of grant and expense that amount over the vesting period (the “fair value method”).

Massachusetts Court Exercises Personal Jurisdiction Based on E-Mails by Lee Gesmer

While there are now many cases where the courts in one state have exercised jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant based on the publication of an interactive Internet web site, cases involving the exercise of jurisdiction based on e-mail lists are rare. Recently, the Massachusetts federal district court decided that a Texas company that sent its mailings to 8,000 subscribers, including 60 Massachusetts residents, is subject to jurisdiction in a defamation action brought against it in Massachusetts by a Massachusetts company.