University of Pittsburgh

Faculty News

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 5:01pm

Michael Madison, Pitt Law Professor and expert in intellectual property Law, weighs in on a copyright infringement lawsuit that legendary rock band Velvet Underground recently brought against the Andy Warhol Foundation.  The Velvet Underground filed a trademark infringement lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan against The Andy Warhol Foundation, claiming it illegally licensed the famous banana image from the band's 1967 debut album for use on iPhone and iPad cases. 


Says Madison, "Suppose VU is right and the image really is in the public domain for copyright purposes. If that's true, then anybody can sell copies of it. That's what 'public domain' means."


As far as VU having a trademark for the image, he said, the band would have an easier time preventing another band from using the banana than convincing a judge that an iPad cover manufacturer could not use it.


Read the full story here.  

Thursday, January 12, 2012 - 9:21am

Professor David Harris compared the affidavits submitted by experts for plaintiff Jordan Miles and the Pittsburgh Police Bureau in the civil rights case stemming from a deadly encounter two years ago.  Miles, then an honor student at Pittsburgh Creative and Performing Arts High School, was badly beaten during an arrest by three undercover Pittsburgh police officers who chased Miles because they thought he had a gun.  In fact, no weapon was present.  The expert for the Police Bureau said that the officers could not and would not have made the mistake of failing to identify themselves, as Miles contended; the expert for Miles disagreed.  More important, Miles' expert factored into his opinion the testimony of the supervisor of the officers, something the Police Bureau's expert inexplicably left out.  In the supervisor's testimony, she identified disciplinary problems with all three officers.  In one of those disciplinary cases against one of the officers, the officer was found to have been untruthful.  According to Professor Harris, lack of truthfulness is potentially devastating because "this case will turn on the credibility of the witnesses."


See the Pittsburgh City Paper article here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012 - 9:10am

As calls mounted for Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Joan Orie Melvin to resign, Professor John Burkoff urged caution.  Justice Orie Melvin and her sisters, State Senator Jane Orie and Janine Orie, have been under investigation for political corruption; a trial of Jane and Janine Orie ended abruptly when forged documents were entered into evidence by defense counsel.  Justice Orie Melvin, who has not yet been charged, received a grand jury subpoena and a target letter in the investigation in December.  Professor Burkoff cautioned that while it was important for Justice Orie Melvin to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, "everyone is to be presumed innocent, and that applies to judges."


See the Tribune-Review article here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 9:00pm

Professors Jules Lobel and Vivian Curran former Clinical Professor Karen Engro taught from January 3-6 at the University of Havana Law Faculty in Cuba, under the auspices of the Inter-American Center for Legal Education.  Professor Lobel taught U.S. constitutional law, and spoke about some of the human rights cases he has argued.  Professor Curran discussed common-law methodology and gave an introduction to U.S. tort and contract law.  Professor Engro discussed mediation in the U.S.

Monday, January 9, 2012 - 4:05pm

Professor Larry Frolik will be the inaugral speaker for the University of Iowa College of Law Elder Law Colloquium on Thursday, January 12th.  Sponsored by the National Health Law and Policy Resource Center, the Colloquium will focus on the legal needs of the elderly with dementia and will feature national experts on elder law. Professor Frolik will describe what elder law is, and will discuss the legal issues that arise when representing older clients, particularly those with dementia.


See the program for the Professor Frolik's session of the Colloquium here.

Friday, January 6, 2012 - 5:03pm

Professor Michael Madison, an expert in copyright law, recently talked with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about the copyright infringement charges brought against Cameron Jibril Thomaz, commonly known as Wiz Khalifa, by relatively unknown artist Max Gregory Warren.    

Madison comments, "The classic way [to prove an artist has heard a song] is that to say it was on the radio or some music channel or through iTunes. The second way is chain of custody: The mixtape got handed around the club somewhere, or one of Wiz's people knows someone at the club, so he got handed a physical copy, or maybe someone mailed the mixtape to someone's people. That kind of argument shows up a lot of the time in movie cases. You have to be pretty detailed, but once in a great while you can actually show chain of custody."


Read the full article here.  

Friday, January 6, 2012 - 4:33pm

Justine Kasznica, executive director of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law’s Innovation Practice Institute (IPI), and Tara Tighe, a Pitt law school JD candidate and editor-in-chief of the law school’s Pittsburgh Journal of Environmental and Public Health Law, will be featured guests at 6:30 a.m. this Sunday, Jan. 8, on the KDKA-TV/Channel 2 Sunday Business Page program with host Jon Delano. Kasznica and Tighe will talk about the IPI, the journal, and the Pitt law school’s upcoming Feb. 13 forum titled “Building Sustainable Neighborhoods: Powering Sustainable Development in Allegheny County.”

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 - 9:56am

Professor Michael Madison has published "Law and Borders, Revisited," a short review of a new scholarly article, at the online journal Jotwell. 

"Jotwell" stands for "Journal of Things We Like, Lots."  The site is a curated body of critical commentary on recent and emerging legal scholarship.  It is hosted at the University of Miami School of Law and managed by Professor A. Michael Froomkin.  Jotwell features commentary on several areas of current law and scholarship, each of which is produced by a panel of invited legal scholars.

Professor Madison's recent review discusses a new paper by Professor Marketa Trimble of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, which is titled "The Future of Cybertravel: Legal Implications of the Evasion of Geolocation."  Professor Madison's review is here; Professor Trimble's paper is here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 4:46pm

Wes Rist, assistant director of the Center for International Legal Education at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, will be in Jerusalem and Ramallah from January 7 – January 12, interviewing candidates for the Palestinian Rule of Law (PROL) Program, sponsored by the Open Society Foundation. He will join several other American legal education specialists to evaluate Palestinian candidates, some of whom will receive funding to study law in the United States for one year. Pitt Law currently hosts three PROL fellows, and has hosted a total of six over the past five years.  Read more about the Palestinian Rule of Law Program here


Rist has also been invited to speak at the Office of the Attorney General of Palestine to address public prosecutors and officials.  He will deliver a lecture on international human rights standards governing pre-trial detention and state-to-state counter-terrorism cooperation.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 3:37pm

Members of the Pitt Law Faculty will be among the presenters at the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), the largest yearly conference for law professors.  The conference features  professors from around the nation and the world discussing new developments and research in every imaginable field of law.

Among the Pitt Law Faculty selected this year to present talks on their work are:

Professor Deborah Brake, who will present her work at the joint program on Title IX 40th anniversary, Thursday, Jan. 5, from 2 to 5 pm;

Professor Teresa Brostoff, Nancy Burkoff, and Ann Sinsheimer, who will present their work at a panel on "Legal Research an Writing for Non-US Lawyers: What Resources Do Law Schools Need to Provide?" on Saturday, Jan. 7, at 5:30 pm.

Professor Larry Frolik, who chairs the AALS Section on Law and Aging, who will serve as moderator and presenter on a panel entitled "Gaurdianship: Reconsidering the Reality of Reform," Friday, Jan. 6, at 8:30 am; 

Professor Haider Hamoudi, who will present his work at the pane on "Comparative Law and the Evolution of Global Norms of Good Gvernance," on Saturday, Jan. 7, from 3:30 to 5:15 pm; and

Professor Rhonda Wasserman, who will discuss her work, "Secret Class Action Settlements"  at the Litigation Section meeting on Friday, Jan. 6, from 4:00 to 5:45 pm.

Pitt Law Professor Pat Chew will be active at the conference as part of the AALS leadership; she will participate in meetings of the AALS Executive Council.  She will also speak at a special program on the legacy of Pitt Law graduate and former Harvard Law Professor Derrick Bell, and will introduce and moderate the AALS Presidential Plenary Program on "Law School Faculty Demographics and Law School Finance."

Also attending the conference are Professor Jessie Allen, Professor John Burkoff, Dean and Professor of Law Mary Crossley, Professor Jasmine Gonzales Rose, Associate Dean for Research David Harris, and Professor and Director of the Barco Law Library George Pike.


See the Annual Meeting program here.

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