April Fools Online Law Quiz: Fiction or Unfortunately Foolish?

Can you separate the wheat of fact from the chaff of April First hokum? Some of these are true but foolish stories, and thank goodness others are pure fiction from the twisted minds of our writers.

Stimulus Package Spends Millions on Microsoft Office
With $20 billion in the bank, one would think that Microsoft could afford to build out its own campus. But the US federal stimulus bill will be spending $11 million to build a bridge connecting two areas of Microsoft’s Redmond campus.  The bridge is to somewhere off limits to the public.
(Could this bridge to nowhere be real news?)

Playing Music to a Herd Is a Public Performance
When we hear the term “public performance” we usually imagine the public as, well, human. Not so fast says PRS, the society for collecting royalties in England, who has threatened a woman who plays classical music from the local radio station to keep her horses calm. PRS demanded she pay £99 if she wants to keep providing such a “public performance.” Apparently a number of stables have been receiving such calls.
(Could horses really count for copyright licensing?)

Craigslist to Start New Category Devoted to Police Sting Operations
Noting the increase in police sting operations among its popular online classified ads, the Craigslist team has asked that police confine their operations to a new category just for them, called “Sting Operations.” Spokeperson Maria Effthimiatous explained, “Its clear police want to post ads to catch serious criminals, so now there’s a special area devoted to just for that.  This way, they can catch criminals, and our otherwise law-abiding users can go about their business without any chance of entrapment.”  (See the new category.)

Tech-crazy US Government Seeks to Register and Track All Animal Movement
Now operators of horse trail rides can look forward to filing their flight plans with a federal agency, just like private pilots do.  A bill currently in the Senate would requires all places where even a single livestock animal is held (farm, back yard, veterinarian office, fairground, slaughterhouse) to be given a unique seven-digit number and registered along with its GPS coordinates. Every livestock animal (including cows, horses, llamas, pigs, sheep, goats, ducks, geese, turkeys and chickens) would be individually registered and tagged with a 15-digit number — preferably via a Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID). Whenever animals are moved, this would be reported the the Agriculture Department.  Can it be long before drivers, cars and children get similar tags for their own protection?  (Take a lookwe could be fooling.)

BBC Starts Its Own Illegal Bot Net
China may have been the first global bot spy network, but now the BBC is close on their heels.  This week, staff from the venerable news organization went to a chat room, purchased programs, and successfully took over thousands of computers to run their own denial-of-service attack. Though it was done for educational and reporting reasons, it appears the Beeb was unaware there are laws against doing this in the UK.
(Was the BBC just experimenting?)

Columbia Journalism School Competes with IT’s New Blogging Degree
IT professor Mindy McAdams advises her students to steer clear of journalism school. Let’s face it, the multimedia, writing and photography skills are what you learn at work. After a few years of blogging, you’ll have most of these skills, but with far less debt, even if you’re blogging full time and not even getting payment from AdWords. (Would we lie about sacred journalism? | Could there really be a blogging Masters degree?)

Scouts Ban Girl Scout From YouTube Sales: Plan Backfires
Spunky 8-year-old Girl Scout Wild Freeborn set out to sell 2,000 boxes of cookies so her troop could go to camp for free. Her dad helped her make her case on YouTube. “They’re yummy” the precocious youth proclaimed, and 700 orders rolled in, along with a take-down notice for her video from her local council.  But instead of ending her sales, it sent them, and her, viral.  Video of her being interviewed by every feel-good news organization have made her the world’s most famous scout. (Could such irony be real?)

Church Uses Online Tools to Help Report Atheists to FBI
Unless you’re a Catholic or have been living in a cave, you already know that President Bush questioned whether atheists should be considered citizens. Now, the Landover Baptist Church is making it simple for the faithful to report these potential non-citizens in the event deportation is necessary.
(To see if this is real, go to the church website.)

Cost-Cutting Reaches the Internet: Sunday Email Delivery to Be Suspended
All Sunday email service would be discontinued as part of a new cost-cutting measure. Additionally, starting Mar. 31, all email attachments will be charged by weight. (Reliable source?)

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