Bitter News, Week of August 1st, 2011

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Here are your headlines from the Bitter Newsroom, where we review the news like a bus!

The Force is Strong With This One: The British prop designer who crafted the original Stormtrooper costumes for Star Wars, based on George Lucas’ own sketches, managed to defeat Lucasfilm in the UK Supreme Court and win the right produce replica outfits. His attorneys at Fox Williams LLP managed to successfully argue that the costumes were functional works rather than artistic ones, and therefore not subject to full UK copyright laws. However, the UK Court also ruled that the 2004 US decision that held him in violation of Lucas’ copyright also stands. So right now the prop designer is free to sell replicas in England but facing a $20m verdict if he ever returns to the US. Considering the bounty hunter Lucas’ been known to affiliate with, the prop designer should watch his back.

Not My Truck Nuts!!! In the kind of ground-breaking free speech case one would expect from rural South Carolina, jurors will be asked to decide if an elderly woman broke the state’s obscenity laws by driving a pickup truck with plastic testicles hanging from the back. The defendant is receiving pro bono representation in a trial that will have ramifications throughout the South.

Welcome to (Still) Dakota Territory: A retired teacher in North Dakota discovered that an error in the alleged state’s 1889 constitution technically violates the U.S. Constitution, and by extension calls into question North Dakota’s status as a bona fide state. In response, the state legislature passed an amendment which the people of North Dakota will vote on in Fall 2012. While the issue seems, at best, to be a scrivener’s error, this is as exciting as North Dakota (Territory) ever gets.

And You Still Don’t Need to Take the Bar! Wisconsin, land of the finest cheese (except for California), these two beloved ladies (until they wised up and moved to California), and the ability to graduate from the two in-state law schools and waive into the Wisconsin bar, decided to take legal education in a new direction by offering the nation’s first integrated Dual Degree Program in Neuroscience and Law and the University of Wisconsin Law School. We at the Newsroom cannot, for the moment, see the market for a program that “bridge[s] the gap between the justice system and the rapid advances reshaping our understanding of neuroscience”, but we also probably would’ve passed on the chance to buy Google for $750k. Good luck to these new Brain-Lawyers.

This Could Already Be Illegal: The proliferation of federal criminal laws create more and more opportunities for folks to unwittingly violate them, note those stalwart defenders of big-government and conscientious business practices at the WSJ. Of these new laws, roughly a quarter don’t require mens rea. If you take away anything, just remember to douse a person’s mailbox in arsenic to poison them or those pesky feds might come down on you.

What If They’re Selling an Airbrush? Make-up ads that “go too far in using airbrushing and other post-production techniques to alter the appearance of models” are being banned by the British Advertising Standards Authority for misleading people. We admire any institution willing to review countless pages of ad copy to see whether the amount of post-production techniques could cause them to be misleading, harmful or offensive, mostly because it involves looking through an unhealthy amount of women’s magazines. At least these noble government workers will also learn hundreds of ways to please their men.

Wait, It’s This Easy? Within six hours of breaking into an FBI agents car, the thieves were caught after authorities traced the credit card info and closed-circuit cameras. Imagine how many people would be thrown in the slammer if the major credit card companies gave as much of a damn.

The Church of St. Swingalot: A Texas court granted a request by Dallas officials to close a swingers’ club operating under the certificate for a religious institution. We commend those brave detectives who “found no evidence of spiritual or religious outreach during investigations of the swingers’ club” while being subjected to “topless female dancers and pornographic movies”. America needs more heroes like these.

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