Photos of WOTY 2010 vote

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jan 9 09:13:13 UTC 2011

I want to add an interesting twist on the "app" question. There has been
some interesting development on the "app" front and it's indirectly
connected to language and language-related issues.

Legal Intelligencer (one of a myriad of ALM publications) released an
article concerning a case where an app company sued Hershey's for
adopting one of its apps for Hershey's chocolate milk app.
Judge Greenlights Cell Phone App Copyright Claims. By Shannon Duffy.

There are a number of confusing and conflicting issues in this case,
including the determination of how much app writing is like writing
regular software, and, if I am parsing the article correctly, the judge
ruled that there are many similarities and apps should be treated by
courts just like any other software (a fairly sensible decision). There
are also some issues of legal standards for decision-making (including
the difference between rules for motion to dismiss vs. motion for
summary judgment). Although some of these issues may be of interest, as
issues of copyright are implicated, largely this is a domain of specialists.

But the story does not end there. David Post of the Volokh Conspiracy
(, previously mentioned on this list for a number of reasons)
singled out and reproduced the Duffy article as an example of "lousy
legal writing". I generally agree that the piece is not written very
well, although I don't know if it particularly stands out in its
negative glory. But Post thought badly enough of it to reproduce it in
its entirety on the blog with only a couple of minor comments about his
actual complaints.

ALM did not waste any time in calling its lawyers, who dispatched a
letter to demanding that the piece be taken down, pursuant to
DCMA, despite Post's--and Eugene Volokh's--claims of obvious fair use
(and I tend to agree with their evaluation).

As a result, the content of the "badly written" piece has been taken
down, although the article is still available from ALM as linked above.

In the letter, the ALM lawyer decided to mock Post:

> And as a vocal advocate of clear and grammatical writing, if not
> copyright laws, Mr. Post might want to consider replacing the
> semicolon in his first sentence with a period. The semicolon is
> unnecessary.

I am reproducing the sentence in question in its entirety:

> When my kids were small , both took music lessons (and as many of you
> know, my son Sam is forging ahead with a career as a pianist), and, as
> a result, I heard an enormous amount of really badly-played music; I
> probably went to 75 or 100 school-wide recitals and performances, and
> while they were all immensely delightful and uplifting – there is
> simply nothing more magical than watching kids make music, no matter
> what it sounds like – the musical bottom line is that 9 year old kids,
> even really talented 9 year old kids, can’t be expected to make
> beautiful music, and by and large they don’t.

Perhaps this should be filed as an example of pots and kettles. So there
are some issues of writing /style/ implicated here--both legal and
otherwise. There are also several switches between "subscription
firewall" and "paywall"--generally two concepts that are not entirely
equivalent. Some of the commentary is also entertaining both on legal
and stylistic levels.

And, in the end, we learn that an "app" is not really an "application"
but enough like it for legal purposes.


PS: iMilk, the underlying app in question, allows you to turn your
iPhone into a virtual glass of milk, from which you can sip through a
virtual straw.

On 1/8/2011 8:31 PM, Tom Zurinskas wrote:
> I read in my local paper that the ADS has chosen the word "app" as the word=
>   of the year (WOTY).  Very app-ropos=2C as I've been readng about all the a=
> pps being developed for smartphones.  CNBC just did a feature on "apps".
> Is "app" the first abbreved WOTY?  App is short for "application."
> Tom Zurinskas=2C USA - CT20=2C TN3=2C NJ33=2C FL7+=20

The American Dialect Society -

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