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Whack-a-troll Legislation

Written by Asher Lowenstein     —   Edited by Yaping Zhang

Patent assertion entities’ extensive litigation activities in different states enables to assess the efficacy of the proposed bills against legal strategies these trolls, such as MPHJ Technology, have engaged in. The legal battles confirm some of the concerns about the usefulness of proposed regulatory measures.

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3D Systems and Formlabs Settled Two-Year Patent Dispute

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Yaping Zhang

On December 1, 3D Systems and Formlabs settled their two-year legal dispute over the 520 Patent infringement. Terms of the settlement are undisclosed. The patent covered different parts of the stereolithographic three-dimensional printing process, which uses a laser to cure liquid plastic. 3D Systems was granted the ‘520 Patent in 1997. Formlabs views the settlement as enabling it to continue its expansion and keep developing new products.

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Privacy Concerns in the Sharing Economy: The Case of Uber 

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim

Recent revelations about Uber’s disconcerting use of personal user information have exposed the numerous weaknesses in Uber’s Privacy Policy. The lack of regulation in the area, coupled with the sensitive nature of personal information gathered by Uber, makes the issue one requiring immediate attention of policy makers.

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San Francisco Court Considers Google’s Search and Ad Services Free Speech

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas

A San Francisco court dismissed a lawsuit against Google, treating Google’s search and advertisement services as constitutionally protected free speech. The lawsuit alleged an antitrust violation based on unfavorable treatment of a website in Google’s search results, and on the withdrawal of third-party advertisement from the website. In throwing out the lawsuit, the court applied California’s “anti-SLAPP” law, which allows quick dismissal of lawsuits against acts protected as free speech.

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EU Unitary Patent System Challenge Unsustainable: Advocate General

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union has rendered an opinion on Spain’s challenges to regulations implementing the European Unitary Patent System. The Advocate General opines that the challenges must be dismissed as the system is intended to provide genuine benefit in terms of uniformity and integration, and safeguard the principle of legal certainty, while the choice of languages reduces translation costs considerably.

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By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Insue Kim

On July 25, 2014, the House passed bill S517, the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act. This legislation was designed to make it legal for consumers to circumvent copy protection mechanisms for cell phone software when changing service providers—a practice known as “unlocking,” which had been illegal under the recommendation of the Library of Congress in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”).

The new bill was originally introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy [D-VT] on March 11, 2013, and it has not been amended since its introduction. The House originally passed a version of the bill that included controversial language which would still outlaw unlocking in bulks. After consumer group backlash, however, the Senate passed a version without the controversial language, and the House agreed to approve this version. The new bill essentially aims to increase consumer choice, allowing consumers to unlock their phones freely, as long as their device is fully paid for. Now that President Obama has signed the bill into law, it is now easier for cell phone users to change their phone service provider without having to purchase a new device.

A summary of the history surrounding the bill is available here. The Washington Post discusses the future implications of its passage. PC, Ars Technica, and the National Journal provide additional commentary.

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Posted On Aug - 5 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Travis West

In the Matter of a Warrant for All Content and Other Information Associated with the Email Account xxxxxxx@gmail.com Maintained at Premises Controlled by Google, Inc., Case 1:14-mj-00309-UA (S.D.N.Y. Jul. 18, 2014) Memorandum Opinion

A Southern District of New York Magistrate Judge granted the government’s application for a search warrant in a money laundering investigation to obtain emails and other information from a suspect’s Gmail account, conflicting with the opinions of several other judges.

The SDNY magistrate judge addressed the conflicting opinions, disagreeing with the central issues in both a DC District Court and a District of Kansas opinion. The magistrate concluded that these courts too narrowly interpreted the Fourth Amendment’s particularity requirement, and also that the reasonableness standard of the Fourth Amendment does not require the court to place protocol on how the government conducts its search. In granting the warrant, the magistrate opened the door for government search and seizure of massive amounts of email information, spurring a controversial debate over privacy concerns.

IT World, Reuters, and Tech Times provide an overview of the case. Slate criticizes the decision, stating that the magistrate “furthered an alarming trend” with the decision. Tech Law discusses reactions to the ruling.

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Creating full-text searchable database of copyrighted works is “fair use”
By Yixuan Long- Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

Authors Guild, Inc. v. HathiTrust, No. 12‐4547‐cv (2d Circuit, June 10, 2014)

Slip opinion

booksIn a unanimous opinion delivered by Judge Parker, the Second Circuit held that under the fair use doctrine universities and research libraries are allowed to create full‐text searchable databases of copyrighted works and provide such works in formats accessible to those with disabilities. The court also decided that evidence was insufficient to decide whether the plaintiffs had standing to bring a claim regarding storage of digital copies for preservation purposes. In so holding, the Second Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court’s opinion.

The Guardian, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Bloomberg BNA overviewed the case. The district court opinion can be found here.

The fair use doctrine, set out in the Copyright Act of 1976 as a limitation on authors’ exclusive rights over their works, allows the public to draw upon copyrighted materials without the permission of the copyright holder in certain circumstances. 17 U.S.C.A. § 107

Several research universities made digital copies of books in their collections and created a repository for the books called HathiTrust Digital Library (“HDL”) in 2008. They also founded HathiTrust to operate it. The HDL provides a full-text book database that allows users to search for page numbers where specific text can be found, and permits member libraries to provide patrons with certified print disabilities access to the full text of copyrighted works. HathiTrust currently has 80 members and the HDL contains over ten million books. Twenty authors and authors’ associations sued HathiTrust for copyright infringement.

The court first decided that three authors’ associations plaintiffs, including Authors Guild, Inc., do not have standing as a matter of U.S. law because the Copyright Act of 1976 does not allow third parties to bring suits. The remaining four authors’ associations’ standing came from foreign law that confers upon them exclusive rights to enforce copyrights of their foreign members. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 30 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

European Union Court of Justice Holds that Individuals Browsing Websites are not in Violation of Copyright Law
By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Yixuan Long

Case C‑360/13, Pub. Relations Consultants Ass’n v. Newspaper Licensing Agency Ltd. (E.C.R., June 5, 2014)

Slip opinion

Hacked By Over-XThe Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) affirmed the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, which had held that webpage browsers do not need license to view copyrighted materials online. The court concluded that the on-screen and cached copies meet the criteria for exemption from reproduction laws laid out in Articles 5(1) and 5(5) of the Directive 2001/29, art. 5, 2001 O.J. (L 167/10) 16, 17 (EC) (hereinafter “Directive”), finding both types to be: temporary, created in the context of the technological process of viewing webpages, contributing to the efficiency of browsing, and transient and/or incidental in nature. The court also concluded that these reproduction acts do not unreasonably prejudice the interests of rightholders and do not conflict with the normal exploitation of the reproduced works.

With this holding, the CJEU issued a crucial decision for European Union law, balancing the rights of copyright holders and the rights of individuals to browse authorized content without being liable for infringement.

The Guardian and PCWorld provide overviews of the case. Ars Technica offers a critical perspective on the decision, claiming that the real issue was much narrower than the CJEU portrayed with its decision.  (more…)

Posted On Jul - 30 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Georgia Supreme Court Takes Chan v. Ellis Appeal to Redefine First Amendment Right on the Internet
By Yixuan Long – Edited by Emma Winer

Chan v. Ellis, A14A0014, (Court of Appeals of Georgia, July 02, 2014)

Transfer order (hosted by Scribd)

Photo By: André Natta - CC BY 2.0

Photo By: André NattaCC BY 2.0

The Georgia Court of Appeals ordered that the appeal in Ellis v. Chan be transferred to the Georgia Supreme Court on July 02, 2014. Chan, an interactive website owner, had appealed the trial court’s permanent protective order in August of 2013. The protective order commanded him to take down more than 2000 posts on his website that mentioned Ellis, and forbade him from approaching within 1000 yards of Ellis. The Court of Appeals decided that the case “raised significant and novel constitutional issues addressing the interplay of the First Amendment and the wide dissemination of information made possible by the internet,” which are “of first impression in Georgia, and there is very little if any directly applicable law in other jurisdictions.” Order, Chan v. Ellis, A14A0014, (Court of Appeals of Georgia, July 02, 2014) (transferring appeal to Georgia Supreme Court).

Ars Technica provides an overview of the case, and features an interview with Matthew Chan. Electronic Frontier Foundation offers a thorough legal analysis of the decision. Related documents, including appellate briefs, can be found on Scribd.

Linda Ellis is the author of a popular inspirational poem. As Ars Technica reports, she actively searches for people who use her poem without permission and sends out settlement letters to these entities demanding thousands of dollars in damages. Matthew Chan runs Extortion Letter Info (ELI), an interactive website for discussing aggressive copyright enforcement efforts; such aggressive actors have been colloquially termed “copyright trolls”. In 2012, he began criticizing Ellis’ “trolling” practice on ELI, and the discussion soon became heated. Some users allegedly posted threats to Ellis on the website’s message board, as well as Ellis’ home address.  (more…)

Posted On Jul - 30 - 2014 3 Comments READ FULL POST
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Whack-a-troll Legisl

Written by: Asher Lowenstein Edited by: Yaping Zhang In May 2014, another ...

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3D Systems and Forml

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Yaping Zhang 3D Systems, Inc., ...

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Privacy Concerns in

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim Following scandals earlier ...

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San Francisco Court

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas S. Louis Martin ...

European union concept, digital illustration.

EU Unitary Patent Sy

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi Advocate General’s Opinion ...