Tag Archives: aba journal

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Foot Fight: Subway sandwich suit raises class action questions

ABA Journal, February 2017 — In January 2013, Australian teen Matt Corby posted a photo on Facebook of a Subway “foot-long” sandwich he’d bought next to a ruler that showed it was an inch short. The post went viral—and within weeks, people across the United States began to file lawsuits, claiming they’d been shorted by Subway, too.

These disappointed sandwich eaters weren’t simply suing to get money for themselves, however. They wanted their lawsuits certified as class actions, arguing that millions of Subway customers weren’t getting what they paid for.

As this litigation made headlines, it became the latest flashpoint in the debate about whether class action is an important tool for consumers to guard their rights or a way for lawyers to shake down corporations. Like many class action lawsuits in the news, this litigation involves fast-food restaurants.

Read the rest of the article at the ABA Journal.

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Lawsuits aim to put iconic folk songs back in the public domain

ABA Journal, November 2016 — As he hitchhiked around the country in 1940, Woody Guthrie got sick of hearing Irving Berlin’s patriotic hit “God Bless America” on car radios and jukeboxes. So the itinerant folk singer penned his own anthem in response—with lyrics that challenged the concept of private property. He called the song “This Land.” Five years later, Guthrie included the lyrics in a booklet of 10 songs he’d written. He printed copies and put a 25-cent price on the cover—along with “Copyright 1945 W. Guthrie.”

That same decade, striking tobacco workers in Charleston, South Carolina, lifted their voices to an old African-American spiritual, vowing that they’d triumph: “We Will Overcome.” Or did they sing “We Shall Overcome”? At some point, someone tweaked the lyrics, which had been evolving for decades. The word will became shall, and the phrase down in my heart changed to deep in my heart.

Those new words were on the page when Ludlow Music applied for a copyright in 1960, crediting Zilphia Horton, Frank Hamilton and Guy Carawan—not as authors of the original song but as the people who’d written new verses and a new arrangement. The company filed for another copyright in 1963, adding more verses and another name: Pete Seeger. But were these people responsible for the words in the most famous verse? Or do those words belong to the public? Read the rest of the article at the ABA Journal.