On May 3, 2014, C|M|LAW Professor Michael Davis spoke at the Society of American Travel Writers annual conference at the Cleveland Convention Center. The title of his presentation was “Copyright and Fair Use.” The discussion centered on the internet. Writers and editors who participated in the discussion expressed confusion regarding whether posted pictures or text are free when taking them from the internet, or whether aggregators have a right to aggregate material found there. In addition, the question was raised whether editors could freely take from the internet as well. Professor Davis explained that the answer to almost all the questions was no: legally, all those copies are copyrighted. With very few exceptions, and depending upon how much material they took, the context of the taking, the nature of the work, and effect on the original author’s potential market, material might or might not be available for fair use.
On May 16, 2014, C|M|LAW Professors Susan Becker and Matthew Green spoke at a free CLE program entitled “A Legal Overview of LGBT Rights in Ohio.” This program was presented in conjunction with a free legal clinic set up to assist members of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or transgendered (“LGBT”) community with issues such as discrimination, name changes, family law, and immigration. It was sponsored by the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, Equality Ohio, the Spanish-American Committee, the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, and Nueva Luz Urban Resource Center.
Professor Becker spoke on the status of same-sex marriage, gave a brief overview of the history of the issue from the 1971 Baker v. Nelson case in Minnesota through the Windsor v. U.S. case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court last summer. Most of her talk focused on the significant changes to federal law (Social Security, taxes, Medicare, Family Leave Act, etc.) since Windsor which extend benefits to same-sex marriage couples. She also focused on the status of the 49 cases now pending in federal courts that will likely lead to a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the constitutionality of states denying marriage to same sex couples. Finally, she spoke about the status of the law in Ohio for LGBT families.
Professor Green explained that despite decades of repeated attempts, Congress has yet to enact federal legislation to ensure equality in employment for LGBT employees. Although protections under some state and local laws exist, a significant number of LGBT workers are without legal protection. Despite these truths, the legal landscape is complex and warrants study, considering LGBT workers face stubbornly persistent and widespread workplace discrimination. To that end, it is imperative that LGBT workers, allies and advocates understand the current legal landscape as well as potential hurdles to protection. Despite the dearth of legislation directly protecting LGBT workers, courts have used stereotyping theory and changing understandings of the concept of “gender” to protect LGBT workers under extant discrimination law. Moreover, the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent, plaintiff-friendly retaliation decisions may further serve as a vehicle in some instances to protect LGBT workers from discrimination, albeit indirectly. In addition to this complex legal landscape, emerging issues with respect to religion and the workplace may well present new challenges for LGBT workers in their quest for equality in employment.
C|M|LAW and Levin College of Urban Affairs Professor Alan Weinstein organized and served as a participant on a panel entitled “The Content-Neutrality Issue in Sign Regulation” at the 2014 American Planning Association (APA) national conference in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 30, 2014. Other panelists included Brian Connolly, a planner/attorney in Denver, Colorado, and Randall Morrison, an attorney in San Diego, California. The session focused on the conflicting views of content-neutrality among the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, with the speakers favoring the more liberal approach taken in the Third, Fourth, Sixth and Ninth Circuits as opposed to the stricter approach in the Eighth and Eleventh Circuits.
C|M|LAW Professor John Plecnik was quoted in Tax Notes Today, this morning, on reducing the error rate for the earned income tax credit.
The following quote appeared in EITC ERROR RATE GROWS; IMPROPER PAYMENTS TOP $ 13 BILLION, 2014 TNT 93-3:
“John T. Plecnik of Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law told Tax Analysts that increasing the IRS’s budget is one way to address EITC errors. Every increase in the IRS budget results in more tax revenues collected or fewer dollars inappropriately granted as credits, he said.
“I think solution number one is the IRS is underfunded, and they frankly need to have a larger enforcement budget if we expect them to have a more accurate administration of the earned income tax credit or any other program,” Plecnik said.
Another solution is for the IRS to wait to confirm the information on a return before issuing a refund, Plecnik said. “We shouldn’t be pushing the IRS to issue refunds preemptively,” he said. “Maybe that means people don’t get their refund until April or May as opposed to February, but I think that’s a small price to pay to avoid putting out billions of dollars in inappropriate credits.”
C|M|LAW Professor Gwen Majette and Associate Dean and Professor Heidi Gorovitz Robertson participated in the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association’s Medical-Legal Summit at Cleveland’s Global Center for Health Innovation on April 12, 2014. Professor Majette served as a panelist addressing the bio-ethical issues of physician interactions with drug and device companies in the context of the Physician Payment Sunshine Act. Associate Dean Robertson introduced a showing of a film,”Bringing Henrietta to Life,” which was a creative commentary on the award-winning book by Rebecca Skloot, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The film was intended to highlight the ethical and legal issues presented in Skloot’s book and to serve as a catalyst for discussion. The film was a joint project of students and faculty from CSU’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, in particular,the Departments of English, Drama, Communications, and Dance. Joining Dean Robertson as panelists were C|M|LAW Health Law students Linda Herman and Blair Barnhart-Hinkle.
C|M|LAW Professor Gwen Majette has begun a two-year term as an at-large member of the AALS’ Law, Medicine,and Health Care executive team. As a member of this group, she will help set the agenda for the section, including helping plan the section’s events at the AALS Annual Meeting.
On May 8, C|M|LAW and Levin College of Urban Affairs Professor Alan Weinstein provided a 1-hour CLE session titled, “Legal and Practical Issues in Regulating Signs & Billboards,” to the Northeast Ohio Law Directors Association. The Association members serve as law directors for cities, villages and townships. Professor Weinstein’s presentation focused on how a city’s sign regulations can balance first amendment concerns, principally content-neutrality, with achieving land-use regulatory goals of traffic safety, effective way-finding and aesthetics. He noted that one effective technique is to key regulation to events rather than to sign-content. Thus, for example, instead of the code defining the content of a “construction” sign and regulating when/where such a sign may be displayed, the code defines the event of “construction” and then regulates when/where a sign may be displayed on that site regardless of content.
On Tuesday, March 18, 2014, C|M|LAW Professor Gwen Majette served as a panelist for a program entitled, “The ACA, the Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth” at the 14th Annual Symposium of the Washington Bar Association’s Judicial Council. The symposium is organized by members of the judiciary and targets the judiciary, attorneys, and the public. The other panelist included the Executive Director of the DC Exchange, the Director of Federal and Family Advocacy for AARP, the Director of State Issues for the American Hospital Association, and the Director or Clinical Transformation and Delivery at the Center for Health Care Reform at Brookings who previously worked in the White House on health care reform matters.
On Thursday, March 27, C|M|LAW Professor Gwen Majette served as the moderator for a panel entitled “Health Care Disparities: The role of Title VI Past, Present and Future” at a conference on role of the law in reducing health care disparities. The conference, “Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired: Putting an End to Separate and Unequal Health Care in the United States 50 Years After the Civil Rights Act of 1964”, was held at Case Western Reserve University Law School and drew an interdisciplinary group of leading scholars and governmental officials. The goal of the conference was to put together an action plan to eliminate health disparities in the Midwest and in Ohio, in particular.
On Thursday, March 13, 2014, C|M|LAW Professor Gwen Majette attended a broadcast of “The Madison Show.” The live broadcast on Sirius XM radio included a discussion entitled the “ACA: A Prescription for Health.” The roundtable included Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Congresswoman Donna Christensen, the Founder and Executive Director of the Young Invincibles, a representative from the White House Office of Public Engagement, and a former HHS staffer. During the broadcast the host told the listeners that they had a law professor in the audience from Cleveland State and asked Professor Majette to describe some of the benefits of the ACA. Professor Majette shared with the listeners how the ACA benefits Americans and helps America adhere to its international obligations under the International Convention to Eliminate Racial Discrimination. She also shared with the audience how the US spends the most on its health care system, but our performance on several key health indicators is worse than many developed countries that spend less.