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No. of Recommendations: 5

[I]f you are not an expert then what am I?

We're in a world without experts, doncha know. It's been a trying year for me, being a lawyer in Florida, and having to disclaim familiarity in so many different fields, especially immigration and election law. Admitting that I have no expertise in securities law is easy by now.

Let me present exhibit #1, S.E.C. v. Yun Soo Oh Park a/k/a Tokyo Joe

Ah, poor Tokyo Joe. You raise an excellent point that I ignored in my earlier post - while TMF can insulate itself from liability (civil and criminal), an individual who operates his/her own private message board can get into a whole heap of trouble. Since securities law doesn't go with a martini nearly as well as does a red tube dress, I'll point anyone who's interested in a small taste of federal securities regulation to this post on Soapbox:

However, the predations of greedy miscreants within the for-hire message boards might not, in and of itself, pose a problem for TMF. What you need is a well-crafted Terms of Service prohibiting illegal and other undesirable behavior by board owners, a decent acknowledgment and waiver for your users to click on, and diligent investigation of any specific notification that the boards are being used for illegal behavior. That might be enough to bring them into the common carrier defense, unless you end up with X% of the site being used for unlawful investment advice (where X is a high number, but one unknown to me). At that point, you start getting into Napster-like constructive notice issues.

Exhibit #2: Well there is no exhibit #2 only my own speculation and moral. Without promotion from TMF the idea of private boards will never be a success. Thus TMF must actively promote and will benefit financially from any TokyoJoe type person that occupy one of their private boards.

True enough, based on the Soapbox promotional experience. But I doubt they would be foolish enough to promote the TokyoJoes of the world. They'd pick some harmless extrovert posting interminable explications of his favorite investing guru to a rapt audience of fawning supplicants. You're correct in pointing out that this could be a trouble spot for TMF, but if they didn't have enough sense to avoid stepping in that one, then no business plan in the world would save them.

As for whether the current format of TMF offends moral, if not legal, sensibilities...well, I for one was quite surprised that they were offering the Rule Maker seminar again this year. I was more surprised to find that they had raised the price.

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