Welcome to the FORWARD GC, a digestible newsletter with fresh takes on the legal news you need to start your day. Curated by friends at Lawtrades—a software company that serves as the connective tissue between an organizations in-house team, a tech-enabled workforce, and data analytics.
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This week: Google and Australia are in a real fight over copyrights and links, and SCOTUS kicks out a case that would have been a Con Law banger. Plus: why going back to work may be more complicated than the process of going remote.
There are only a few extreme times that it is OK to resurrect very old memes back to life. This one of those times.
That’s because in Australia there’s a powerful game of chicken happening. The country wants to force Google to pay for the news content it shares on its platforms, and Google has come back with a huge threat.
It says it will pull its services out of Australia entirely.
Google has cashed in off journalism for years: Its “Google News” section earns it plenty of eyeballs and ad dollars. The search engine claims news organizations benefit from the traffic sent their direction, and it has also donated $1 billion to the news industry.
Google resisted payments to media organizations until recently: In France, which has tighter copyright laws, Google is starting to pay up. And the company is expected to make similar arrangements throughout the EU.
But Australia wants more: The Australian government seeks to make Google pay for any links to news articles it shares on its platforms. And in the event that Google and news orgs can’t agree on compensation, Australia wants to mandate that an independent arbitrator solve the dispute. Experts believe an arbitrator could be called in for almost 75% of transactions.
Google is not having it
A spokesperson told the WSJ that Australia’s insistence on making it pay for links to any article violates the practice of unrestricted linking Google is known for. Because of the enormous difficulty of that ask, Google is threatening to shut down in Australia, where needless to say Bing is not very popular. About 95% of Australian internet searches happen on Google.
Australia is not blinking. Some version of legislation requiring payment to publishers is expected to pass. One Australian media expert commented, “Google’s overreaction perfectly illustrates why the code is needed.”
Whenever it’s safe to go back to work for good, the answer about who should go back and how often to go back is not likely to be cut and dry.
As Law.com explains, there’s likely to be generational conflict and more.
Higher-ups are more likely to want to go back: Many managers want to manage in person. That isn’t shared by all lawyers, though, especially younger ones.
Winning cultures can be sustained anywhere: That’s what John Hensien, the CEO of the firm Clark Hill said. “I don’t care if you are in an office or in your home or in a client’s location or some vacation destination, as long as the client’s happy and you are happy, we are all for it,” he added.
But what about career development?
This is where it will get tricky. Lawyers are split on whether promises that their companies and firms will accept remote work will still get the same opportunities. Richard Hsu of Major, Lindsey & Africa said, “What’s going to happen is once it’s hybrid the lawyers that are working remotely are going to very much feel like second-class citizens.”
No two workplaces are exactly alike, so figuring out a new normal will take time. And, obviously, Lawtrades 100% supports remote work and people who like remote work.
Dust off your Con Law textbook. The emoluments clause came up again, although perhaps for the last time for a while because the Supreme Court dismissed two lawsuits against Trump regarding the clause.
In case you forgot: The emoluments clause of the Constitution forbids federal government officials from receiving things of value from domestic or international leaders without the consent of Congress. (Ben Franklin helped inspire the clause because of gifts he received from France).
The Trump lawsuits were about hotels: One argued Trump was violating the constitution by receiving payments from foreign leaders who stayed at his D.C. hotel. The other argued that Trump’s D.C. hotel had an unfair advantage over competitors because international leaders wanted to stay there to gain influence. In recent rulings, appeals courts had ruled both cases could proceed.
Then, Trump lost
He’s no longer president, so the Supreme Court said there was “no case or controversy” and dismissed the cases, wiping out any precedent that could have been set by the lower courts.
The decision to dismiss may be bigger than emoluments: SCOTUS also must decide on a 2017 Trump lawsuit in which Trump was accused of violating the First Amendment when he blocked followers. Trump’s DOJ, before he left office, asked the court to wipe out that case, too.
SCOTUS’ decision means we still don’t have an answer as to whether the emoluments clause holds up in any relevant way. Con Law professors will continue to just hypothesize.
💌 What else we’re forwarding
Dominion is suing Rudy Giuliani: For $1.3 billion. Dominion’s lawyers called it “The Big Lie.” “The harm to Dominion's business and reputation is unprecedented,” they wrote in the lawsuit “and irreparable because of how fervently millions of people believe it."
The pandemic economy is making law school sound great: Speaking of Con Law, applications are up 22% for law school compared to last year. The rise is especially pronounced among people in the upper percentiles of LSAT scores.
🎧 Music to work to
Porya Hatami is an experimental sound artist based in Sanandaj, Iran. He utilizes processed acoustics and electric field recordings to compose a balance between electronics and nature sounds. This album Arrival and Departures is ambient and perfect to work to.
Arrivals and Departures — Porya Hatami (60m)