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JUDGE LETS MYSPACE BLOCK LINKS TO ITS COMPETITION A U.S. district court judge recently dismissed what may be the first antitrust case to address whether a social networking site can prevent its users from posting certain links. The Central District’s Judge Howard Matz threw out (.pdf) the antitrust claim against MySpace.com last month, saying the social networking site wasn’t required to display competitors’ Web page links. The case arose when MySpace deactivated a link from competing site Vidilife.com, which is owned by LiveUniverse and provides video-hosting services. “Some users had been linking to it, and the site’s strategy was to parasite off MySpace traffic, and piggyback off MySpace’s success,” said Richard Stone, an L.A.-based partner at Hogan & Hartson, the firm representing MySpace. And by including those links, Stone said, MySpace would be risking exposure if sites such as Vidilife had any inappropriate content. But LiveUniverse saw the matter differently, saying MySpace is a monopoly and its News Corp. owner was trying to destroy competitors, according to a blog launched by Brad Greenspan, the owner of LiveUniverse. “In a unprecedented display of censorship, a company who prides themselves as being ‘fair and balanced’ made it impossible for any MySpace member to type/mention or use Vidilife.com services on MySpace. Vidilife.com quickly lost almost 50% of its user-base overnight,” according to a blog post earlier this year. MySpace doesn’t prevent anyone from going to their competitors’ sites, countered Hogan’s Stone. But, “We have no responsibility to build a moving walkway to a competitor’s store.” While Stone said the motion to dismiss had been expected to be granted, he added that it was interesting that the court gave some background on social networking, recognizing it as a part of competition and business. Even though Stone is involved in cases representing MySpace, he doesn’t have his own page there or on any of the competing sites. “I think I’m too old to be their key demographic,” he said with a laugh. “No one wants to see a 48-year-old lawyer’s Web site.”

Kellie Schmitt

BEHIND THE BAR’S ‘FIRST’ MEMBER Ever wondered who was the first lawyer in California? Or even the 666th? Well, the handy dandy tool on the State Bar’s Web site that lets anyone search for attorneys by bar number can be a fun, if somewhat nerdy, distraction. A search for No. 1 pulls up the name of former San Franciscan William Harrison Waste, who was admitted to practice law in June 1894 at the age of 25. But wait a minute. A search for No. 100 brings up John Ferard Leicester, another San Franciscan who was admitted in January 1892, a full 2 1/2 years before Waste. In fact, several other lawyers � including Nos. 2 through 5 � were admitted years before Waste. What’s up? Well, a search of the State Bar Web site turns up a 1996 story by the California Bar Journal � the Bar’s in-house newspaper � explaining that Waste was given the top spot as a professional courtesy. You see, he was fortunate enough to be California’s chief justice in 1927, the year the State Bar was formed. But why are there so many lawyers with numbers that don’t seem to equate with their admission date? A State Bar spokeswoman said officials’ “best guess” is that when Bar membership became mandatory in 1927, “letters probably went out to all the lawyers [of the time] to send in papers to join the bar.” And the responses probably came in randomly for quite a while. A related Bar Journal story in 1996 points out some other interesting bar numbers � No. 33334 was held by the late Johnnie Cochran Jr., who defended O.J. Simpson, and No. 15989 was held by the late � and disgraced � Richard Milhous Nixon. The Bar Journal story also notes that No. 2596 � held by Clara Shortridge Foltz with an admission date of December 1879 � went to the first woman on the membership rolls. That got The Recorder thinking about other numbers. Current Chief Justice Ronald George, who was admitted in June 1965, holds No. 36837, while the unfortunate No. 666 landed on the now-deceased George L. Bachman, a Long Beach resident who was admitted in May 1912. No. 1492 went to Santa Barbara’s Donovan W. Woods, admitted in July 1915, and No. 1776 was held by Oakland’s John C. Scott, admitted in October 1901. How about the landmark high numbers? No. 50000 is held by James Monroe Allen, a partner in San Francisco’s Leland, Parachini, Steinberg, Matzger & Melnick, while No. 100000 went to Saratoga solo practitioner Jann Marie Nakashima. So who’s the most recent addition to the membership rolls? That honor goes to No. 250357, Milton Edward Foster III, an attorney at Pasadena’s Gutierrez, Preciado & House. At least he was the newest as of Monday. In an e-mail to The Recorder, Foster observed, “The thing about being newly licensed is that many people assume you instantly have a huge amount of disposable income and that you have intricate knowledge regarding all areas of the law. Most friends and family are stunned when I answer most of their questions with: ‘I don’t know, but everything is available online.’” But, he wrote, he’s enjoying his firm and the opportunities given to new associates. As a former engineer who changed careers, “It has been a challenging but rewarding road to becoming an attorney.” Welcome aboard.

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