Useless But Compelling Facts – December

Two months ago, our trivia contest asked about ex-Vice President Aaron Burr, who was arrested and ultimately acquitted of treason after he left office. There were so many responses that for our last question in 2009, we decided to give you some more Presidential trivia. Now Aaron Burr was hardly the worst of the ‘past’ Presidents or Vice-Presidents. Former President John Tyler (who left office in 1845), was a member of the Confederate Congress at the time of his death in 1862. But here are the questions for you to ponder and puzzle over this month: First, who is the only President of the United States to serve two non-consecutive terms? Second, which President is the only one who, after leaving office, became Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States? OK, if you can guess the right answers to those two, you have one more hurdle to overcome to become the winner. Of the Presidents who served in the 20th Century, three of them – Herbert Hoover, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan – lived past 90. So for our third and final question of the year, we ask you to identify the only President before 1900 who reached the ripe old age of 90 after leaving Presidential office?

If you think you know the answers, a special new years’ 2010 prize will be yours if you are right AND first. Send your answers to me at

Useless But Compelling Facts – November 2009 Answer

Last month we asked you to identify an extraordinarily talented gentleman – a concert musician, composer and recipient of the French Legion d’Honneur award, who was fired as an actor by a Hollywood studio because his Adam’s apple was too large. He went on to become a legendary actor and director, among his many talents and credits. So kudos to Uri Weinstock, a member of the Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance (GALA) and avid Legal Bytes reader, whose correct answer came to us first from San Jose, Costa Rica – none other than Clint Eastwood! Congratulations Uri.

Joe Rosenbaum – A Busy Week (Lexblog & American Banker)

Joseph I. ("Joe") Rosenbaum had a busy week. In an interview with the editors of Lexblog, Joe tells Lexblog why blogging on Legal Bytes is both fun and informative. You can read the entire interview on the Lexblog page "Real Lawyers Have Blogs".

Joe was also quoted in an article by Maria Aspan in the American Banker, about the announcement by American Express that it was acquiring Revolution Money – part of Amex’ efforts to continue to evolve and provide a broader (and increasingly relevant online and digital) range of payment options for consumers and merchants. If you are interested, feel free to read Maria’s entire story, "Amex Tries to Buy a ‘Revolution’".

Social Media: It’s 10 p.m. Do You Know Where Your Brand Is?

Did you miss our New York seminar on Social Media? Well now you can catch us in California. Three of Rimon’s offices in California will be hosting a seminar on social media, where Joseph I. (“Joe”) Rosenbaum and Anthony Traymore from the Advertising Technology & Media Group in New York, and local Rimon lawyers in each office, will present:

“Social Media: It’s 10 p.m. Do You Know Where Your Brand Is?”

Tweets, profiles, avatars, blogs, chats, friend requests, user-generated content, personalized pages, customized URLs—keeping up with social media is daunting. Social media continues to change the rules of engagement, and for companies, brands, marketing professionals and their legal advisors, engagement is now the rule. Just as economic and advertising models for whole industries are changing to take advantage of social media, industries must confront new and unprecedented legal risks in this brave new world of engagement—a world where lawmakers, regulators and courts are struggling to figure it out. Legal risks and challenges abound; so does opportunity—for brands who know before they go!

Rimon LLP is a State Bar of California-approved MCLE provider, and this course qualifies for 1.5 general MCLE Credit. The presentations will highlight:

  • Best practices for corporate engagement in social media
  • How to approach workplace policies
  • The current and potential legal landscape evolving around social media platforms
  • Case studies—social media successes and failures
  • Highlights of our “white paper”: A Legal Guide to the Commercial Risks and Rewards of the Social Media Phenomenon, recently released by the Rimon Social Media Task Force
  • And much more

Because of the high level interest received, we will be conducting the seminar in three of our California offices.

1.  Rimon’s San Francisco Office

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Registration & Breakfast: 8:30 a.m.; Program: 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.


2.  Rimon’s Silicon Valley (Palo Alto) Office

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Registration & Lunch: 12:30 p.m.; Program: 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.


3.  Rimon’s Century City (Los Angeles) Office

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Registration & Breakfast: 8:30 a.m.; Program: 9:00 – 10:30 a.m.


We hope you will attend, and we encourage you to share this invitation with others. For your convenience, here is a link to the invitation & registration page for these sessions.

Federal Reserve Board Has a Free Gift (Card) For You

Remember when Legal Bytes posted that little note about gift cards now being part of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, for the first time formally bringing gift cards under federal regulation? Remember we told you that as part of the process, “by July 2010, the Federal Reserve Board is to have crafted and approved new rules covering consumer disclosures (i.e., advertising, application forms, etc.)”?

Well today, the Federal Reserve Board announced proposed rules that would restrict gift card fees, limit expiration dates to a minimum of five years (after issuance or the last time funds were loaded), and prohibit dormancy, inactivity, and service fees, unless it was limited to once per month, the consumer was notified, and the inactivity has lasted for at least one year.

The FRB has been busy around Regulation E (EFT). Last week, the FRB announced its Final Rule surrounding ATM and one-time debit card overdrafts (See “The Fed Notices an Overdraft – Decides to Close the ATM Window”, posted on Legal Bytes earlier today). These regulations are also promulgated under Regulation E, and although the proposed rules have not yet been published in the Federal Register (expected soon), you can download a copy here: Federal Register – Gift Card Rulemaking Notice.

The Fed Notices an Overdraft – Decides to Close the ATM Window

This post was written by Roberta G. Torian and Joseph I. Rosenbaum.

On Nov. 12, the Federal Reserve Board released its final rule on overdrafts for ATM and one-time debit card transactions (the “Final Rule”), which amends Regulation E. Although it hasn’t been published in the Federal Register yet, Legal Bytes thought you might like a little heads-up as to what is in the new Final Rule.

To start, a financial institution will have to obtain a consumer’s consent – in advance – to assess a fee for paying an overdraft in an ATM or one-time debit card transaction. To get consent, the financial institution must provide a description, give the consumer an opportunity to opt-in; and if consent is given (which can be revoked at any time), give the consumer written or electronic confirmation. While existing customers who haven’t opted in to the overdraft program by then can’t be charged a fee for these overdrafts after Aug. 15, 2010, for everyone else, compliance is required by July 1, 2010.

Here’s one you might not have considered. What if the system in place with the financial institution doesn’t distinguish between various types of overdrafts (e.g., one-time debit card versus recurring debit card transactions)? Well there is a safe harbor, but you’ll have to call Roberta G. Torian (or read the Final Rule yourself).

Now, the Final Rule doesn’t mean a financial institution is required to pay overdrafts, whether or not a consumer has consented, and it still allows them to maintain policies on overdraft limits, frequency, and other factors that would restrict the customer’s overdraft privileges. In other words, it doesn’t change an institution’s right to manage its overdraft program or risk – only the situations where it can charge a fee to the consumer.

The Final Rule does, however, delve a bit more deeply into the marketing and cross-selling considerations financial institutions must comply with. For example, the Final Rule prohibits conditioning other account services on opting in to the overdraft service. Furthermore, the consumer must be offered the same account terms, conditions and features, whether or not they opt-in to the overdraft program.

The Federal Reserve Board has created a model form for use by financial institutions (one that can be modified to fit the individual programs available) to obtain the consumer’s opt-in consent, and that highlight the disclosures required by the Final Rule. The form was developed because the Final Rule also prohibits including this new overdraft "consent" as part of the basic account agreement when a consumer opens an account. In other words, you need to give the consumer a meaningful opportunity to decide whether to opt-in, and not simply bury the "consent" in a string of clauses and terms.

Although the rule has not yet been published in the Federal Register, you can download a copy of the Final Rule right here. But if you really want to know the (opt) ins and (opt) outs of Regulation E, contact Roberta G. Torian, Joe Rosenbaum or any of the lawyers at Rimon with whom you work. Rimon has a full service Financial Institutions Group that can help virtually any financial institution with legal support, service, and representation, whenever and wherever the need arises. Call us, we are happy to help.

Friday the 13th – No Need To Worry. It’s Your Lucky Day.

Yesterday evening, Rimon and Boyden Executive Search Agencies co-sponsored a seminar in which Douglas J. Wood, head of Rimon’s Media & Entertainment Industry Group, joined by Sarah Needleman from The Wall Street Journal, and Kathy Ewing, assistant general counsel at Benjamin Moore, discussed the legal, social and economic implications of the social media and social networking revolution.

Friday the 13th notwithstanding – it’s the third one this year and, for you Useless-But-Compelling-Facts fans, the most any single year can have – today is your lucky day. Even if you missed it, the seminar can be downloaded right here: “Making Sense of Social Media.” And, in keeping with our triskaidekaphobic theme, Legal Bytes is proud to present a double whammy.

Simultaneously with this first-in-a-series of seminars, we have released a groundbreaking white paper entitled Network Interference: A Legal Guide to the Commercial Risks and Rewards of the Social Media Phenomenon. The white paper, which you can also download by clicking the linked title above, was compiled by Stacy Marcus and edited by Douglas J. Wood (head of Rimon’s Media & Entertainment Industry Group) and Joseph I. Rosenbaum, Chair of Rimon’s global Advertising Technology & Media Law Practice). The white paper includes contributions from our social media task force – numerous Rimon lawyers across many disciplines affected by or involved in the social media revolution.

We will be adding, supplementing and updating these materials with even more chapters and new information as this exciting area continues to dynamically unfold. Whether you are an active participant in the commercial world of social media or are confused by it, this is a must read.

Oh, and if you want to actually be social and sociable Joseph I. Rosenbaum and Anthony S. Traymore will be presenting MCLE accredited and customized variations of these Social Media Seminars in our offices in San Francisco, the morning of December 8th, in Palo Alto at mid-day the same day and in Century City the morning of December 9th – so be social and if you are on the West Coast and your schedule permits, mark your calendar and watch the Whatz Gnu? section of Legal Bytes over the next week for further information and links to an invitation and registration.

If you or your brand advertising and marketing professionals think social media is a fad, you need to GWI or start waving goodbye. The train is leaving the station without you. But, if you recognize that digital and web-based technology, coupled with new interactive social platforms and applications are changing the way we interact, communicate, work, play, learn and entertain; are changing the legal and socio-economic landscape; and, indeed, are changing how brands and companies engage with their customers, their employees, their suppliers and yes, their investors and shareholders: well, then OMG, you totally get it.

But even if you do, navigating the waters as legislators, regulators and courts struggle to enact or apply a legal framework originally intended for a world with easily defined borders and tangible products, can be daunting. That’s why Rimon has a core and virtual team of lawyers who have experience and can advise you and guide you through the uncertainties. Contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or Douglas J. Wood, Stacy Marcus, or Anthony Traymore, or any of the Rimon lawyers with whom you regularly work. How can we help you?

Collection and Use of Consumer Information – Congress is Listening

Congress is listening—why do you think they are called "hearings"? But will your voice be heard? The U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection, and the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet, will hold a joint hearing on "Exploring the Offline and Online Collection and Use of Consumer Information" Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009. If you or your representatives aren’t in the room, you can’t be part of the conversation and you won’t be heard. If you can’t make it, but you want to listen, or be heard, or both—let me (Joe Rosenbaum), or any Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work, know.

Because That’s Where the Money Is

Presumably, that’s why Willie Sutton robbed banks. So I ask you, somewhat rhetorically, why would anyone defraud advertisers on the Internet. Well, if you don’t know, please refer to the title—that’s what this note is about.

Remember click fraud? That’s the name for illicit activity in which someone or something (a computer executing macros, automated scripts, etc.) emulates the click-selection process on a web advertisement. Why is that fraud? Well for one thing, if you are counting the number of times visitors “select” your advertising, click fraud makes it seem like lots of browsers out there are attracted to your advertising. But it ain’t necessarily so. Even worse, if an advertiser is paying each time a visitor browses the ad—pay per click—that advertiser can pay a significant amount of money for eyeballs that simply aren’t there. While you might think some clever computer hackers or scammers were engaging in this activity for kick (something like a teenager joyriding with the family car), when you find out your competitors are retaining the services of others to engage in that activity, making your advertising seem exceedingly successful and driving up your cost of sales while they are merrily trimming their costs—well that’s why they call it fraud after all.

Solid investigative work, pattern detection, programs designed to sniff out repetitive or rapid clicks and Internet protocol and address tracking—1000 clicks per second from the same address—can’t completely prevent click fraud, but they can make it more difficult, make the insertion companies, publishers and networks more accountable for accurate metrics and payment mechanisms, and can sometimes even lead to prosecutions.

More recently, even more sophisticated schemes have arisen, including fake advertisements, appearing to be for a legitimate company, but that are actually a launching pad for malicious code—capable of phishing or denial of service attacks, or penetrating corporate firewalls to access company networks and systems.

Now this is not a particularly new problem. After Hyundai was victimized, earlier this year, Initiative, the Agency of Record for Hyundai, sent out letters to its business partners, presumably to its publishing and advertising network partners, stating “someone allegedly working for Hyundai, or working at other agencies, has contacted various sites requesting proposals, and have even run a short campaign,” and requesting that they be notified immediately if contact is made “from an e-mail domain address of ‘’.”

Publicis, one of the world’s largest advertising holding companies and the largest global network within the Publicis Groupe, headquartered in France, has also been warning publishing networks about these fake ads. This past Oct. 5, Digitas, Optimedia, MediaVest, Zenith, and Spark (each of them Publicis companies) sent letters to their media partners [PDF] alerting them to: “rogue software and malicious advertising that is being placed on websites by individuals pretending to represent legitimate insertion requests.”

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal noted yet another scam in web-based advertising: invisible ads. Agencies and media buyers are generally unable to audit banner campaigns when bought through ad networks and purchased on a CPM basis. Now imagine you are paying for ads based on web pages loaded, not clicks. Well, according to the article, Ben Edelman, an assistant professor at Harvard Business School who has been studying Internet advertising, has discovered that these “invisible” ads use computer programming code to make it appear as if the ads are where they are supposed to be. But when you point your browser to the web page where the ad is supposed to be, NOTHING IS VISIBLE. Notice I didn’t say that nothing was there. I said it wasn’t visible. BUT, if you are reading this, pay attention.  Take your cursor and highlight the entire blank space above right after the words “ad is supposed to be,” all the way through to “Notice I didn’t say,” the previously hidden text becomes visible.  You see, the letters are there, but they are in the same color as the background, so they appear invisible to the reader. A fairly old trick. Now imagine there’s a web-based advertisement on an invisible web page. The browser “sees” the page and acts as if that page is loaded and open—only you can’t see it.

The Wall Street Journal article notes that security experts at Symantec and McAfee, as well as at online verification and audit companies DoubleVerify and Anchor Intelligence, have confirmed the programming code used to create the invisible ads. Code that ultimately causes advertisers, including some major companies and brands, to pay for advertising that is “there,” but not to the user. Just like the text color coded to appear invisible against the background here, these programming codes—normally used to tell the computer how to display a web page when a browser loads the page—make the display (referred to as an “iframe”) invisible, so the user won’t actually see anything within that iframe. Because you can’t see any of the contents, scammers can create multiple invisible iframes, even on the same page. Mr. Edelman reported that he “opened a series of invisible pages on the visitor’s computer with as many as 46 ads”—none of which could be seen.

I suspect that when Congress and regulators refer to targeted advertising, they aren’t thinking about criminals who target legitimate advertisers and publishing networks and ultimately cost them (and you) money. But here at Legal Bytes, and among the lawyers at Rimon, we are! Need to know more about digital advertising, publishing networks, media and marketing online? Call Joe Rosenbaum, or any of the lawyers at Rimon you work with. We are happy to help.

Reading Legal Bytes Archives is Like a Box of Chocolates

If you think of Legal Bytes only as a “blog,” you are missing at least half the value. While we always try to bring you timely and enlightening insights at the intersection of advertising, technology, and media, and we will continue to do so, there is so much more. There is a treasure trove of searchable material available in our archives.

Joseph I. (“Joe”) Rosenbaum has been publishing Legal Bytes since 1996, but we’ve only been able to archive and post in digital form the more recent Rimon issues, free for you to search and explore. By category, metatag or date, all the way back to January 2004, you can search for articles and materials of interest. Of course, if you are stuck and can’t find what you are looking for, or if you wonder if we’ve ever done an article about “X,” just send an e-mail to yours truly, the Editor-in-Chief, Publisher and Chief Bottle Washer, Joseph I. Rosenbaum, and ask. If we have, I’ll find it for you. If we haven’t, maybe we’ll write one!