Monthly Archives: April 2011

CA Legal News: Class Action Suit against Sony because of PlayStation Network Breach

What Happened?

Sometime between April 17 and April 19, 2011, hackers broke into the Playstation Network (Bloomberg). On Wednesday, April 20, 2011, Sony shut down the PlayStation Network and Qriocity services in response to the intrusion, but did not inform consumers of the intrusion. (Bloomberg; Seybold 04/26/2011).

Sony lacked the in-house expertise to evaluate the intrusion, but instead of informing consumers about the intrusion so that they might mitigate any possible damage, this information was kept secret.

By Tuesday,  Sony had “reported the breach to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in San Diego, which specializes in compute r crime”( Stelter & Bilton).  To provide the FBI with information about the case you can call the FBI headquarters at (202) 324-3000.” (Snider).

Although Sony executive Patrick Seybold, Sr. Director, Corporate Communications & Social Media, claims that they “Quickly [took] steps to enhance security and strengthen our network infrastructure” (Seybold). Journalists are questioning how “quick” Sony’s response was given the intrusion occurred around April 18th and clients were not informed about the possibility that their information was compromised until Tuesday April 26th (Theriault).

Moreover, consumers and journalists are not impressed with the fact that Sony did not already have a safe system, but instead waited for this intrusion before “re-building [their] system to provide [users] with greater protection of [their] personal information” (Seybold ). Even Senator Richard Blumenthal, contacted Sony, “saying he was troubled that the company had not notified customers sooner about the breach” (Ogg).

Should Users be Concerned?

Although Ann Carrns, blogging for the New York Times, claims that users should “remain calm”, what she actually means is that those consumers who used credit cards rather than debit cards and who regularly monitor their credit card statements and bank statements and can afford a “limited” debit card loss, should remain calm. Oh and anyway, these types of hackers, Carrns writes, “are often looking for notoriety, rather than to resell financial information” (Carrns).

Wall Street Journal blogger, Ben  Rooney, indicates that the type of data stolen is very valuable, “complete data including billing address, email addresses and personal information like dates of birth, represent the rich data that allow highly targeted attacks against individuals. This sort of data commands much higher prices—and is much sought after by cyber criminals” (Rooney).

“With the sort of data compromised it is possible for criminals to commit identity theft and use your details to open bank accounts, take out mobile phone contracts, and even re-direct your mail. Security professionals suggest obtaining a copy of your credit report which should give a complete account of your status as well as any searches against your credit history” (Rooney).

Graham Cluley, of naked security, the IT security blog of the year, explains how hackers could use the stolen information to “[b]reak into your other online accounts. We know that many people use the same password on multiple websites. So if your password was stolen from the Sony PlayStation Network, it could then be used to unlock many other online accounts – and potentially cause a bigger problem for you” (Cluley).

Carrns optimism seems to be unfounded, given that senior threat researcher, Kevin Stevens from the security firm Trend Micro, “said that the forums indicated the hackers had a database containing the personal information, and that they were hoping to sell it “for upwards of $100,000.” Apparently the hackers had even tried to sell the information back to Sony, but they didn’t receive a reply from the Japanese electronics company” (Mogg). I guess these are the rare hackers that prefer millions of dollars over notoriety.

How are users responding?

Some users have already begun to report  fraudulent charges on their credit and debit cards. One user  said that “a ticket was purchased through a German airline for nearly $600” leaving her with a negative account balance of $500 (Kuchera).

An Alabama user has already filed a class action suit against Sony in the 9th District court, asking among other things for monetary compensation and free credit card monitoring (Ogg) . The complaint asks for:

“1)An order certifying this case as a class action and appointing Plaintiff and his counsel to represent the Class.

2) Restitution and disgorgement of all amounts obtained by Defendant as a result of its misconduct, together with interest thereon from the date of payment, to the victims of such violations.

3) Actual damages for injuries suffered by Plaintiff and the Class.

4) Compensatory money damages according to proof.

5) Statutory damages according to proof.

6) An order requiring Defendant to immediately cease its wrongful conduct as set forth above; enjoining Defendant from continuing to falsely market and advertise, conceal material information and conduct business via the unlawful and unfair business acts and practices complained of herein; ordering Defendant to engage in a corrective notice campaign; and requiring Defendant to refund to Plaintiff and all members of the Class the funds paid to Defendant for the defective PlayStations and PSN services; ordering Defendant to pay for credit card monitoring for Plaintiff and all members of the Class.

7) Punitive damages.

8) Attorneys’ fees and costs.

9) For statutory prejudgment interest.

10) For such other relief as this Court may deem just and proper” (JOHNS v. SONY).

In short the complaint alleges that Sony did not take “reasonable care to protect, encrypt, and secure the private and sensitive data of its users” and that this precluded consumers from being able to make informed decisions about how to best mitigate the possible damages that could result from having their information stolen (Ogg; Clark).

Senators Dick Blumenthal, and Bobby Rush have both responded to the breach with press releases. Blumenthal berates Sony execs in a letter, for mishandling the breach and for failing to have adequate security precautions. Rush gets to the heart of the matter, and calls for Republican senators to work with democrats to get a bill passed that would require corporations to take better security precautions with users data (Blumenthal; Rush).

What repercussions will this have for Sony?

Sony will likely face staggering legal bills, not to mention that they will likely want to start placating  consumers financially, even before the suit is settled or tried (Clark). Whether or not gamers will vote Sony off the island by, is yet to be seen, but at least one journalist thinks they would be crazy not to. “… the gamer (and any sane consumer) also says this: If you are cavalier with my personal information I will punish you by walking away” (Schiesel).



CA Legal News: California Renewable Energy Resources Act

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law, an Act that gives the state of California 9 years within which to obtain a third of its energy from renewable sources. This is in keeping with former Governor Schwarzenegger’s 2008 executive order “requiring that California utilities reach the 33 percent renewables goal by 2020” (  The question is, can California implement this law without breaking the bank?

2006 statistics from the California Manufacturers and Technology Association indicate that in 2006, CA had the eighth highest cost of electricity of all the states, after Hawaii (approximately double the cost of CA electricity), Massachusetts and New Hampshire, were almost a third more expensive than California. The lowest energy costs were roughly half that of California, in West Virginia and Idaho (Energy Index)

More recent statistics from the U.S. Energy Information Administration indicate that as of Dec 2010 the “Average Retail Price of Electricity to Ultimate Customers” in CA was 13.81 cents per kilowatthour. This makes the cost of energy in CA cheaper than Alaska and Hawaii (which arguably have their own infrastructure and transmission related issues driving up the cost), and also cheaper than   Connecticut (17.39), Massachusetts (14.53) and New Hampshire (14.82) and only slightly cheaper than the District of Columbia at 13.75 cents per kilowatthour. On the low end are Wyoming, Washington and Idaho (6.2, 6.6, and 6.54) (

Still, even if you look at commercial rates only, California, at 11.26 cents per kilowatthour still does not have rates that are “50% higher than in the rest of the country” as Joseph Vranich claims in his blog post Why do Companies Leave California? As of these statistics for December 2010, updated March 2011, the U.S. average is “9.81” cents per kilowatthour which makes California rates only 14% higher than the national average, or if you want to use the statistics of the cheapest state, in this case, Idaho, at 6.31, well yes, the rates are definitely more than 50% higher in California than they are in Idaho (Vranich).

Regardless of the exact or comparative numbers, the implementation of new renewable sources of energy will require an initial investment in infrastructure, and this comes at a time when state and federal funding is already tight. Energy law expert, Dian Grueneich, formerly Commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission, believes that while energy efficiency may reduce energy emissions in accordance with the 2006 California Global Warming Solutions Act, implementation of the recent California Renewable Energy Resources Act may be slow given the current financial restrictions.

How do you think this will turn out? Will California lead the country and the world in achieving 33-40% renewable energy sources within the next 8 years, 8 months? Or will California bankrupt it residents and drive more businesses to Nevada (and other states) with unreasonable energy price hikes?


Library Highlights: Environmental Law

The Global Environment: Institutions, Law, and Policy

edited by Regina S. Axelrod, Stacy D. VanDeveer, David Leonard Downie

K3585 .G58 2011


From the Publisher: The new edition of this award-winning volume reflects the latest events in the climate crisis while providing balanced coverage of the key institutions, issues, laws, and policies in global environmental politics. Chapter authors provide crucial historical context while synthesizing the latest scholarship for a student audience. In addition to three entirely new chapters, all of the es-says are written specifically for this volume— updated with new case material, maps, figures, exam-ples, and interpretations. Additionally,  an updated chronology of global environmental policy and an updated list of acronyms aid students in critical reading, as well as review and study.

Climate Change and Sustainable Development Law in a Nutshell

John R. Nolon, Patricia E. Salkin

KF3783 .N65 2011


From the Publisher: Policies regarding sustainable development and climate change management appeared on the world stage at the same time and should be studied and understood as a single body of law. This Nutshell enables readers to learn how the U.S. legal system fosters greenhouse gas reduction, energy conservation, and sustainable patterns of growth including energy efficient and sustainable buildings, the use of renewable energy resources, the protection of sequestering open space, and the adaptation of buildings and communities to sea level rise and natural disasters.

Agenda for a Sustainable America: The law Applying to Nuclear installations and Radioactive Substances in its Historic Context

edited by John C. Dernbach

HC79.E5 A358 2009


From the Publisher: This book is a comprehensive assessment of U.S. progress toward sustainable development and a roadmap of necessary next steps toward achieving a sustainable America. Packed with facts, figures, and the well-informed opinions of forty-one experts, it provides an illuminating “snapshot” of sustainability in the United States today. And each of the contributors suggests where we need to go next, recommending three to five specific actions that we should take during the next five to ten years. It thus offers a comprehensive agenda that citizens, corporations, nongovernmental organizations, and government leaders and policymakers can use to make decisions today and to plan for the future.

Sustainable development holds enormous promise for improving the quality of life for Americans over the coming decades. Agenda for a Sustainable America describes what we need to do to make the promise a reality. It assesses trends in twenty-eight separate areas of American life—including forestry; transportation; oceans and estuaries; religion; and state, local, and national governance. In every area, contributors reveal what sustainable development could mean, with suggestions that are specific, desirable, and achievable. Their expert recommendations point the way toward greater economic and social well-being, increased security, and environmental protection and restoration for current and future generations of Americans. Together they build a convincing case for how sustainable development can improve our opportunities and our lives.

Climate Change and the Law

Chris Wold, David Hunter, Melissa Powers

K3593 .W65 2009


From the Publisher: This new book comprehensively assesses the law and science of climate change, as well as the policy choices for responding to this global problem. Given the all-encompassing reach of climate change, Climate Change and the Law allows students to study how the many different areas of law–public international law, public administrative law, federal environmental law, state and municipal regulations, and the common law–can be implicated in addressing a major social issue. This text-book thus provides students with an integrated experience to study law and an understanding of the many climate-related challenges facing the next generation of lawyers. The book begins by exploring the international climate change regime, including a detailed investigation of emissions trading and the controversial regime for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through land use and forest management practices. It also explores options for a future international agreement in light of calls to reduce emissions by as much as 80 percent.

Nuclear Law: The Law Applying to Nuclear Installations and Radioactive Substances in its Historic Context

Stephen Tromans

KD3497 .T76 2010


From the Publisher: This book is a practical guide to the international, EC and UK law applying to the various uses of nuclear energy and radioactive substances. The first edition was produced in 1997, and given the renaissance of interest in nuclear power in the UK and worldwide, this new, updated and much expanded edition is timely. It will cover the law relating to the permitting and operation of nu-clear power stations, the decommissioning and clean-up of former nuclear facilities, radiological protection, the management of radioactive waste and spent fuel, liability and insurance, and the security and transport of radioactive materials. Readers will find a clear framework explaining the development and application of nuclear law, and how domestic law is based on and influenced by international and European requirements and by its historical context. In the commercial context, the chapters dealing specifically with new build and with decommissioning will be vital reading.

A Substantive Environmental Right: An Examination of the Legal Obligations of Decision-makers Towards the Environment

Stephen J. Turner

K3585 .T87 2009


From the Publisher: Accute global awareness of environmental degradation seems at last to have created a consensus that environmental obligations should be imposed on decision-makers, whether state or non-state actors. However, although substantive environmental rights have been developed to a limited degree, there is as yet no international treaty or agreement that provides a globally accepted substantive human right to a good or clean and healthy environment.

This impressive book proposes such a right. In unprecedented depth, the author probes the legal obligations of decision-makers within states, companies, multilateral development banks and the World Trade Organization and develops a sound substantive human right that creates duties, both nationally and internationally, by which all decision-makers are legally bound to follow specific rules and procedures that would prevent or limit environmental degradation stemming from their decisions. Among the major issues dealt with in the course of the presentation are the following: determination of an equitable form of compensation where less environmentally-degrading alternatives are not viable; anthropocentric approach vs. intrinsic rights for all ecosystems and natural systems; problems of fixing qualitative standards; problems arising from the differing economic capacities of states; the extent to which state constitutional provisions relating to the environment can direct and constrain legislators and policymakers; effectiveness of responses to pressure upon multinational enterprises to take the environment into consideration in their decision-making processes; intergenerational equity; protection of indigenous and vulnerable communities; and public participation in the environmental impact assessment process.

New Titles for the Center for Law & Social Justice

California Criminal Sentencing Enhancements
KFC1172.A15 C35 (California Materials)

Contracting with Sovereignty: State Contracts and International Arbitration
Ivar Alvik
K2400 .A944 2010
ThomCat |

Maria Mies & Vandana Shiva
HQ1233 .M53 1993
ThomCat |

Federal Environmental Law: The User’s Guide
Olga L. Moya, Andrew L. Fono
KF3775.Z9 M69 2011
ThomCat |

Human Rights in Europe: Commentary on the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
William B.T. Mock, editor; Gianmario Demuro, coordinating editor
KJE5132.A432 H86 2010
ThomCat |

The Law of Products Liability
Marshall S. Shapo
KF1296 .S43 2010

The Lisbon Treaty: Law, Politics, and Treaty Reform
Paul Craig
KJE4443.32007 .C73 2010
ThomCat |

Obesity, Business and Public Policy
edited by Zoltan J. Acs, Alan Lyles; in collaboration with Kenneth R. Stanton
RA645.O23 O22 2009
ThomCat |

Practice Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines
edited by David Debold
KF9685 .P7322 2010-
ThomCat |

Trafficking and Human Rights: European and Asia-Pacific Perspectives
edited by Leslie Holmes
HQ281 .T73 2010
ThomCat |

San Diego Legal News: Medical marijuana dispensaries to be shut down in San Diego

In the news this week, is our own, Alex Kreit, Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Law & Social Justice. Professor Kreit is also chairperson of the city of San Diego’s Medical Marijuana Task Force. His remarks, quoted in San Diego CityBeat, suggest that the de facto ban on medical marijuana dispensaries for the next year is the most reasonable compromise that could be made with the current city council members (Lamb). However, in Professor Kreit’s opinion, based on extensive empirical research in the San Diego community, the majority of San Diego residents would likely prefer to have well-regulated and conveniently accessible dispensaries.

In a letter to the City Council, published in San Diego Citybeat, Professor Kreit, on behalf of the City of San Diego’s Medical Marijuana Task Force, urges Council members to reconsider the excessively restrictive zoning regulations that would prohibit medical marijuana collectives and cooperatives from operating in large portions of the City of San Diego, to include central areas where the presence of dispensaries is supported by the majority of the local residents. The letter asks that Council members take into consideration the needs of patients who rely on convenient legal access to doctor-prescribed medication. “Those who will be hurt most by the draft ordinance will be the sickest patients, including the elderly and the disabled, who cannot travel long distances for their medicine and are unable to undertake the time and labor intensive process of attempting to grow medical marijuana for themselves. Indeed, the California legislature adopted the Medical Marijuana Program Act in 2003, which makes medical marijuana collectives and cooperatives legal, in order to protect the rights of patients like these.” (Maass).

What do you think about the new regulations?


Center for Law, Technology & Communications

Digital Communications Law
Henry H. Perritt, Jr.
KF390.5.C6 P47 2010
Drafting Internet Agreements
Gregory J. Battersby, Charles W. Grimes, Leonard T. Nuara
KF905.C6 B38 2010
ThomCat | Amazon
Journal of Transportation Law, Logistics, and Policy
K10 .O899 (Legal Periodical Collection)

Money Laundering in the Real Estate Sector: Suspicious Properties
Brigitte Unger, Joras Ferwerda with a contribution from Hans Nelen, Luuk Ritzen
HV6768 .U54 2011
ThomCat | Amazon
Technology and Anti-Money Laundering: A Systems Theory and Risk-Based Approach
Dionysios S. Demetis
HV6768 .D46 2010
ThomCat | Amazon
The United States Government Internet Directory
edited by Peggy Garvin
ZA5075 .G68 (Reference)

Center for Global Legal Studies— Recent Acquisitions

Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations in Industrialized Market Economies
edited by R. Blanpain; J. Baker … [et al.].
K1705 .C65 2010
ThomCat |

Contracting with Sovereignty: State Contracts and International Arbitration
Ivar Alvik
K2400 .A944 2010
ThomCat |

The EU, the WTO and China: Legal Pluralism and International Trade Regulation
Francis Snyder
K3943 .S69 2010
ThomCat |

French Constitutional Law: Cases and Materials
Martin A. Rogoff
KJV4079 .R64 2011
ThomCat |

Human Rights in Europe: Commentary on the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
William B.T. Mock, editor; Gianmario Demuro, coordinating editor
KJE5132.A432 H86 2010
ThomCat |

International Tax Systems and Planning Techniques
edited by Roy Saunders
K4475 .I588 2010 (Lobby Display)
ThomCat |

The Lisbon Treaty: Law, Politics, and Treaty Reform
Paul Craig
KJE4443.32007 .C73 2010
ThomCat |

Trafficking and Human Rights: European and Asia-Pacific Perspectives
edited by Leslie Holmes
HQ281 .T73 2010
ThomCat |

Understanding European Union Law
Karen Davies
KJE949 .D38 2011
ThomCat |

Yearbook on International Investment Law & policy
K3826.3 .Y43 (Lobby Display)