A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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ITC’s review of an ALJ’s order was not procedurally sound
By Mengyi Wang – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit unanimously vacated and remanded a decision of the International Trade Commission (“ITC”), finding that the ITC exceeded its authority in reviewing an administrative law judge’s (“ALJ”) order denying a motion for termination. In so holding, the Court rejected the ITC’s attempt to characterize the ALJ’s decision as an initial determination, which would be subject to review.

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Facebook’s experiment of emotional contagion raises concerns
By Jenny Choi – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

On June 17, 2014, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences released a study in which Facebook reduced positive and negative posts on News Feeds to observe any changes in the participants’ posts to test whether emotional states are contagious through verbal expressions. Many have criticized Facebook for the experiment,  finding that Facebook has deceived its users, violated past Consent Orders, and stretched the users’ terms of service agreements too far.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Ken Winterbottom

Access to nude photos is a ‘perk’ of working at the NSA, Snowden says

Record label slams YouTube star with copyright infringement suit

Study shows women are still underrepresented among technology leaders

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SDNY Holds Bitcoins Fall Under Purview of Federal Money Laundering Statute

By Amanda Liverzani  Edited by Mengyi Wang

The debate surrounding the legal status of Bitcoins continued to heat up, as the Southern District of New York weighed in on whether the virtual currency could be used to launder money under 18 U.S.C. §1956(h). In a July 9, 2014 opinion penned by Judge Forrest in United States v. Ulbricht, the court held that exchanges involving Bitcoins constitute “financial transactions” for purposes of the money laundering statute, noting that “[a]ny other reading would—in light of Bitcoins’ sole raison d’etre—be nonsensical.”

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Aereo Struggles as Supreme Court Finds It Violated Copyright Law
By Jenny Choi – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

On June 25, 2014, in its 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against Aereo, Inc.  The U.S. Supreme Court held that Aereo violated the Copyright Act of 1976 for streaming TV shows shortly after they were broadcast without paying for the copyrighted works.  As a result, Aereo suspended its service and has struggled to find a way to re-operate its business. This decision has not come without criticism, however, as some warn this ad hoc decision could lead to uncertainty in the courts.

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By Davis Doherty

Google Executives Answer for the Sins of Their Users in Italy

PCWorld reports that on Feburary 24, an Italian court convicted three Google executives for violating privacy laws, handing down six-month suspended sentences to each. The ruling arose after a video depicting the bullying of a boy with Down Syndrome was posted to Google Video Italia; Google removed the clip within hours of receiving a complaint from the Italian police, two months after it was first uploaded. Under Italian law, Internet content providers, but not Internet service providers, may be held liable as publishers of user-generated content.

Ars Technica reports on criticism that the decision strikes a blow to Internet freedom. As the New York Times explains, some observers connect the conviction to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s interest in seeing a potential competitor to his media monopoly hindered. The executives plan on appealing the decision.

Businesses Give Yelp a Negative Review, File Class Action

Two class action law firms filed a lawsuit against Yelp Inc. on February 23 on behalf of a nationwide class of small businesses. The plaintiffs allege that Yelp, whose website allows users to post reviews of local businesses, “runs an extortion scheme in which the company’s employees call businesses demanding monthly payments, in the guise of ’advertising contracts,’ in exchange for removing or modifying negative reviews appearing on the website.” The WSJ Law Blog discusses the complaint, and the Bits Blog at the New York Times provides a response from Yelp. The case, Cats and Dogs Animal Hospital Inc. v. Yelp Inc., is currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Strike One for ACTA?

On February 21, BoingBoing and Computerworld reported on the alleged leak of a draft chapter from the secretive negotiations surrounding the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (“ACTA”). Included in the alleged draft is a call for ACTA signatories to establish third party liability for infringement of intellectual property rights, which would allow rights-holders to bring suit against an Internet service provider who “knowingly and materially” aids infringement. The document calls for a requirement that ISPs implement user policies along the lines of a “three strikes rule,” which allows a provider to terminate a user’s Internet access after sending two warning letters. The European Commission expressed opposition to any agreement that would create an obligation to disconnect users.

Posted On Feb - 28 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

California Superior Court Enters Judgement in Anti-SLAPP Suit
By Debbie Rosenbaum – Edited by Steven Primeaux

MagicJack, LP v. Happy Mutants LLC, Case No. CIV 091108 (Sup. Ct. Cal. Marin County, Jan. 5, 2010)
Opinion (hosted by Boing Boing)

On January 5, 2010, the Superior Court of California for the County of Marin entered judgment against plaintiff MagicJack, reiterating its May 2009 holding that MagicJack had not established a probability of prevailing on its claims against Boing Boing and ruling that Boing Boing was entitled to legal fees and costs resulting from MagicJack’s lawsuit. In May, Boing Boing had moved to strike MagicJack’s claims under California’s anti-SLAPP (“strategic lawsuit against public participation”) rule. In its May 2009 holding against MagicJack, the court first noted that MagicJack’s claims targeted protected speech activity because Boing Boing’s statements “involve consumer information affecting a large number of persons.” The court then observed that posting on the Boing Boing site “provides information about [MagicJack's] product not only to the ‘substantial’ number of people who have already purchased the device, but also to other consumers who might be considering purchasing such a device.”

The court’s judgment is available here. The May 2009 ruling is available here. Gizmodo provides an overview of the case. Boing Boing also provides a full account of the events along with hosting all legal documents. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 27 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Board of Patent Appeals affirms rejection of Pfizer’s broadest patent claim to Viagra
By Abby Lauer – Edited by Frank Sabatini

Ex parte Pfizer, Inc., Appeal 2009-004106 (B.P.A.I. Feb. 12, 2010).
Slip Opinion

On February 12, the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences affirmed a Patent Examiner’s rejection of claim 24 of Pfizer’s patent on the erectile dysfunction (ED) drug Viagra.

The Board held that claim 24 of the patent was anticipated in the prior art by descriptions of the herb Yin Yang Huo (Horny Goat Weed). In addition, the Board invalidated the claim based on the judicially created doctrine of obviousness-type double patenting, a doctrine that seeks to prevent unjustified extension of the right to exclude that is limited by the twenty-year patent term. In holding as it did, the Board rejected some of the Examiner’s reasoning but agreed with his ultimate decision to invalidate the claim.

PatentlyO provides an overview of the case. BusinessWeek discusses the impact of the decision on Pfizer and its competitors Eli Lilly & Co. and Bayer AG, the makers of ED drugs Cialis and Levitra respectively. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 24 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

School Punishment of Online Speech: Evans v. Bayer
By Stuart K. Tubis – Edited by Frank Sabatini

Evans v. Bayer, No. 08-61952-CIV-GARBER (S.D. Fla. February 12, 2010)
Slip Opinion

The District Court for the Southern District of Florida granted in part and denied in part defendant’s motion to dismiss. The court dismissed the claim for injunctive relief to prevent Bayer from maintaining records of the suspension and to compel him to revoke the suspension nunc pro tunc. The court held that it cannot compel someone in her personal capacity to take official action. Nonetheless, the court denied defendant’s motion to dismiss the claim for nominal damages, holding that the action was “off-campus activity” and protected by the First Amendment.

A NY Times article provides a general overview of the case. Wired and CNN also provide summaries of the case with limited legal analysis. Jon Katz writes in approval of the opinion emphasizing the frequent underprotection of First Amendment rights in schools. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 22 - 2010 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Joey Seiler

Google Buzz Gets Privacy Groups Talking—and Filing Complaints

When Google launched Buzz, its new social media function, on February 9, the Internet giant moved into Facebook territory by sharing information and connecting social groups. According to the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s complaint to the FTC, Google may have also moved into Facebook territory by violating users’ privacy. (PaidContent covered EPIC’s FTC complaint against Facebook when the company changed its privacy settings in December 2009.) The New York Times provides an overview of the many problems that arose when Buzz made it possible to see a user’s most emailed contacts, including privacy issues for minors and displaying confidential contacts of lawyers and journalists. Ars Technica reports on Google’s efforts to bring Buzz back in line with users’ privacy expectations.

Schools Spy on Kids with Laptops, then Stop in Response to Suit

Harriton High School in Lower Merion Township, PA, has been using the webcams in school-issued laptops to surreptitiously monitor students at home, alleges a complaint filed against Lower Merion School District on February 11. BoingBoing reports that the issue came to light when a student was allegedly disciplined for “improper behavior in his home.” According to Ars Technica, the school says that the technology was only used for the purpose of stopping theft. The school has since disabled the remote access feature entirely.

In Tenenbaum, Defendant Files Reply Brief to Reduce Jury Verdict; Plaintiff Drops Sanctions Against Nesson

Last July, a Boston Federal jury handed down an award of $675,000 against Joel Tenenbaum for infringing copyright in 30 songs by sharing them over Kazaa. Copyrights and Campaigns reports that Tenenbaum filed a reply brief to support his motion to reduce the verdict on February 18. Tenenbaum argues the actual damages are at most $21, based on the 70 cents labels would have received from Apple for an iTunes sale for each of the 30 songs. However, this method of calculation was explicitly rejected in the remittitur in the similar case against Jamie Thomas-Rasset, previously covered by JOLT.

Tenenbaum’s attorney, Harvard Law School Professor Charles Nesson, has made a practice of posting recorded depositions and telephone conversations regarding the case to his blog. JOLT previously covered the RIAA’s reactions as it asked the court to have Nesson pull the recordings. A hearing on the motion was scheduled for February 23, but Copyrights and Campaigns reports that the RIAA has withdrawn its motion for sanctions.

Posted On Feb - 22 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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ITC’s review of an

ITC’s review of an ALJ’s order was not procedurally sound By ...

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Facebook’s experim

Facebook’s experiment of emotional contagion raises concerns By Jenny Choi – ...

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Flash Digest: News i

By Ken Winterbottom Access to nude photos is a ‘perk’ of ...

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SDNY Holds Bitcoins

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang United States v. Ulbricht, ...

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Aereo Struggles as S

Aereo Struggles as Supreme Court Finds It Violated Copyright Law By ...