A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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By Ellora Israni – Edited by Filippo Raso

IMDb is challenging the constitutionality of Assembly Bill 1687 (“AB 1687”), a California law requiring IMDb to remove ages from its website upon request from paid subscribers, claiming that the law violates the First Amendment’s free speech protections.

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Facebook Blocks British Insurance Company from Basing Premiums on Posts and Likes

By Javier Careaga– Edited by Mila Owen

Admiral Insurance has created an initiative called firstcarquote, which analyzes Facebook activity of first-time car owners. The firstcarquote algorithm determines risk based on personality traits and habits that are linked to safe driving. Firstcarquote was recalled two hours before its official launch and then was launched with reduced functionality after Facebook denied authorization, stating that the initiative breaches Facebook’s platform policy.

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Airbnb challenges New York law regulating short-term rentals

By Daisy Joo – Edited by Nehaa Chaudhari

Airbnb filed a complaint in the Federal District Court of the Southern District of New York seeking to “enjoin and declare unlawful the enforcement against Airbnb” of the recent law that prohibits  the advertising of short-term rentals on Airbnb and other similar websites.  Airbnb argued that the new law violated its rights to free speech and due process, and that it was inconsistent with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects online intermediaries that host or republish speech from a range of liabilities.

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Medtronic v. Bosch post-Cuozzo: PTAB continues to have the final say on inter partes review

By Nehaa Chaudhari – Edited by Grace Truong

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“the Federal Circuit”) reaffirmed its earlier order, dismissing Medtronic’s appeal against a decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”). The PTAB had dismissed Medtronic’s petition for inter partes review of Bosch’s patents, since Medtronic had failed to disclose all real parties in interest, as required by 35 U.S.C. §312(a)(2).

 

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California DMV Discuss Rules on Autonomous Vehicles

DOJ Release Guidelines on CFAA Prosecutions

Illinois Supreme Court Rule in Favor of State Provisions Requiring Disclosure of Online Identities of Sex Offenders

Research Shows Concerns for Crucial Infrastructure Information Leaks

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Federal Circuit Invalidates Software Patent As Mere Mental Process
By Albert Wang – Edited by Chinh Vo

CyberSource Corporation v. Retail Decisions, Inc., No. 2009-1358 (Fed. Cir. August 16, 2011)
Slip Opinion

The Federal Circuit affirmed the United States District Court for the Northern District of California’s grant of summary judgment, agreeing that plaintiff CyberSource’s patents were invalid for ineligible subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

Writing for a unanimous panel, Judge Dyk held that CyberSource’s method of verifying credit card transactions by matching up Internet addresses represented an abstract process, doable entirely within the human mind and thus not amenable to patent. The court also invalidated CyberSource’s patent for the actual program in its computer readable medium, characterizing the patent claim as a mere enshrining of an unpatentable method in object code.

Patently-O provides an overview of the case. TechDirt characterizes the decision as part of a broader trend, derived from Bilski, against “bogus” software patents. Ars Technica also takes a favorable view of the result, but characterizes the Federal Circuit’s human-capability test as an artificial distinction. (more…)

Posted On Sep - 6 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Despite First Amendment Challenge, Seventh Circuit Allows High School Sports Association to Exclusively License Broadcasting Right

By Abby Lauer – Edited by Andrew Segna

Wis. Interscholastic Athletic Ass’n v. Gannett Co., Inc., No. 10-2627 (7th Cir. Aug. 24, 2011)
Slip Opinion

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, which had granted summary judgment to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Associate (WIAA) in a declaratory judgment action against local news media company Gannett Co., Inc.

The Seventh Circuit held that it is constitutional for the WIAA, a state actor, to exclusively license the right to broadcast tournament games played by member schools. In so holding, the court rejected Gannett’s argument that WIAA’s contract, which grants American Hi-Fi the exclusive right to stream tournament games and requires consent and payment for third-party broadcasts of entire games, violates the First Amendment.

The State Bar of Wisconsin provides an overview of the case. Techdirt criticizes the decision, expressing concern that the Seventh Circuit has created a new intellectual property right. (more…)

Posted On Sep - 5 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

District Court Requires Warrant for Cell Phone Location Data

By Michael Hoven – Edited by Jonathan Allred

In the Matter of an Application of the United States of America for an Order Authorizing the Release of Historical Cell-Site Information, 10-MC-897 (E.D.N.Y. Aug. 22, 2011)

Slip opinion

The United States District Court of the Eastern District of New York denied the government’s request to order Verizon Wireless to turn over 113 days of customer location data which, according to the government, was relevant to a criminal investigation.

The court held that the Fourth Amendment covered cell phone location data and that law enforcement would need to show probable cause and receive a warrant to access such information. The court decided that cell phone users have a reasonable expectation of privacy that deserves protection from government intrusion. In so holding, the court applied an exception to the third-party-disclosure doctrine that would otherwise give law enforcement access to non-content information (such as location data) that users have already divulged to a third party (such as a service provider), concluding that disclosure of cumulative cell phone location data would be as intrusive as disclosure of the content of cell phone communications.

Ars Technica provides an overview of the case. Techdirt applauds the decision’s protection of cell phone users’ privacy. Wired notes that action by the Supreme Court or the Senate could favor government access over user privacy and limit the effect of the court’s ruling. (more…)

Posted On Aug - 29 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

District Court Rules that DMCA Safe Harbors Apply to Cloud-Storage Music Locker Service Liable for Indirect Infringement

By Andrew Crocker – Edited by Jonathan Allred

Capitol Records, Inc. v. MP3tunes, LLC, 07 Civ. 9931 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 22, 2011)

Slip opinion

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled on competing motions for summary judgment in a copyright infringement case brought by EMI, Inc. against cloud-storage locker service MP3tunes and its executive Michael Robertson. The court granted EMI’s motion for summary judgment of contributory infringement against MP3tunes for not removing specific infringing material from users’ accounts and direct infringement against Robertson for personally downloading infringing material, while granting in part MP3tunes’ motion for summary judgment on its entitlement to safe harbors under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (“DMCA”).

The court ruled that MP3tunes had satisfied the threshold requirement for safe harbors granted to service providers in the DMCA by establishing a policy for dealing with repeat infringers among other requirements, but it found that MP3tunes had not done enough to respond to takedown notices from EMI regarding MP3tunes users’ infringement. MP3tunes’ locker service allows users to upload music from their personal collections and play these songs back from any computer. MP3tunes also operates sideload.com, a website (and an accompanying web plugin) that allows users to search for new music and “sideload” it directly to their locker for storage and playback. Sideload.com also aggregates music sideloaded by users, serving as a resource for discovering new music. When MP3tunes received EMI’s takedown notice, it removed links to the infringing content from sideload.com, but it did not delete songs that had been sideloaded from these links to individual user accounts. Relying heavily on precedent from Viacom v. YouTube, 718 F. Supp. 2d. 514 (S.D.N.Y. 2010), which was previously covered by the Digest, the court held that although MP3tunes was obligated to remove only those copyrighted works that were described with sufficient precision in EMI’s takedown notice, it should have removed copies of these works from users’ accounts as well. As a result, the court ruled that EMI was entitled to summary judgment on the claim that MP3tunes was liable for contributory infringement for these specific works.

Eric Goldman’s Technology & Marketing Law Blog provides an overview of the case. The Washington Post and the New York Times both agree that the court’s application of DMCA safe harbors to MP3tunes’ service will be welcome news to Apple, Amazon, and Google, all of whom have recently introduced cloud music storage locker services.

(more…)

Posted On Aug - 29 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Esther Kang

Steve Jobs Resigns As Apple CEO

Steve Jobs announced his resignation as CEO of Apple on Wednesday, reports The Wall Street Journal. In his resignation letter, Jobs wrote, “I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know.” Tim Cook, who had been Apple’s COO since 2005, has replaced Jobs. Many have raised concerns about the future of the company following Jobs’ departure, according to The Huffington Post. The Guardian reports that as of Thursday, Apple stock had dropped by 3% after Jobs’ announcement.

Facebook, RIM, and Twitter Meet with UK Government about Recent Riots

Reuters reports that on Thursday, UK Home Secretary Theresa May met with representatives from Facebook, RIM, and Twitter to discuss the role of social media in the recent British riots. The talks focused on building cooperation between the companies and the government to restrict criminal activity on social networks, but the UK government did not seek to impose any strict limitations on Internet services. According to PCWorld, Facebook released a statement welcoming the government’s efforts to “keep people safe” rather than “imposing new restrictions,” the company also recognized that at times, it must be more active when “dealing with situations that are heightened or sensitive such as the UK riots.”

RIAA Appeals District Court’s Reduction of Damages in File-Sharing Case

As Ars Technica reports, the RIAA has appealed the reduction of damages from $1.5 million to $54,000 in its suit against Jammie Thomas-Rasset to the Eighth Circuit. The case, filed in 2007, has already gone through three trials, the first two resulting in jury verdicts of copyright infringement and damages of $1.92 million and $1.5 million, respectively, until the district judge held the latter award unconstitutional. According to Techdirt, the RIAA bases its appeal on the correct interpretation of the word “distribution” in the Copyright Act and whether it covers merely making a copyrighted work “available.”

Court Rules that Ban on Teacher-Student Communication on Non-Work-Related Sites Violates the First Amendment

Ars Technica reports that a Missouri court has enjoined a new law that would have penalized teachers who communicate with students through “non-work-related” sites, which include Facebook and Twitter. The Volokh Conspiracy comments on the legal merits of the case and agrees with the court that the law was overly broad, prohibiting even communication between family members in some instances. In response to the public outcry against the law and the court’s ruling, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has called for the law to be repealed, as well as other provisions not enjoined by the court to be removed, according to Yahoo News.

Posted On Aug - 28 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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