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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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DRIP Bill Expands UK’s Data Surveillance Power

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Insue Kim

House of Lords passed the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (“DRIP”) on July 17, 2014. DRIP empowers the UK government to require all companies providing internet-based services to UK customers to retain customer metadata for 12 months. It also expands the government’s ability to directly intercept phone calls and digital communications from any remote storage. Critics claim the bill goes far beyond what is necessary and its fast-track timeframe prevents meaningful discussion.

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Federal Circuit Grants Stay of Patent Infringement Litigation Until PTAB Can Complete a Post-Grant Review

By Kyle Pietari – Edited by Insue Kim

Reversing the district court’s decision, the Federal Circuit granted a stay of patent infringement litigation proceedings until the PTAB can complete a post-grant patent validity review. This was the court’s first ruling on a stay when the suit and review process were happening concurrently.

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First Circuit Explains Judgment Against File-Sharer Tannenbaum
By Eric Engle  – Edited by Miriam Weiler

Sony BMG Music Entertainment et al. v. Tannenbaum, Case No. 07cv11446-NG (Dist. Mass., Dec. 7, 2009)
Memorandum and Order

The U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts elaborated on its July 27 summary judgment against Joel Tannenbaum, holding that file sharing for personal use was not presumptively fair under the Fair Use doctrine.  In so holding, the court suggested that Tannenbaum could have escaped liability with a more tailored fair use argument, but his expansive argument failed.

The Copyrights and Campaigns Blog provides an overview of the case and its commentary. Ars Technica criticizes the decision as being badly litigated and missing a chance to extend the fair use doctrine to encompass sampling music prior to purchase or space-shifting to store purchased music more efficiently. Wired.com defends Professor Nesson’s litigation strategy.

(more…)

Posted On Dec - 17 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Jyoti Uppuluri

Spanish Law Won’t Allow Website Takedowns Without Court Order

On December 4, Slashdot reported that Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero announced the Spanish Government would not take down websites without judicial authorization, contrary to language in a draft of Spain’s Sustainable Economy Act. The Prime Minister’s statement came as a response to a widely published online manifesto issued on December 2 by “a group of journalists, bloggers, professionals, and creators” opposed to the draft, which restricted “expression, information and access” to the Internet. Minister of Culture Ángeles González Sinde met with Internet experts and authors of the manifesto prior to the Prime Minister’s announcement, but continued fears about the draft law prompted the next day’s statement from the highest level of government.

EFF and Samuelson Clinic Sue Government Agencies over Social Networking FOIA Requests

Ars Technica reported on December 2 that the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Berkeley’s Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic filed suit in the Northern District of California against six governmental departments. The lawsuit comes after the failure of these governmental groups to respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding their use of social media in pursuing investigations. Ars Technica notes that the EFF and Samuelson Clinic hope that the requests will “clarify the policy and highlight any potential for illegal overreach by the government.”

Sprint Responded to Millions of Law Enforcement Requests for Customer Information

Ed Felten at Freedom to Tinker directs readers to a post by Chris Soghoian, which discusses the Sprint Manager of Electronic Surveillance Paul Taylor’s statement that the company has provided customer GPS information to law enforcement officials over eight million times in the course of a year. Soghoian notes that this statement and other data support the conclusion that “[t]he vast majority of the government’s access to individuals’ private data is not reported.”

Posted On Dec - 8 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Second Patent Case in a Year Ordered Transferred from E.D. Texas
By Stephanie Weiner – Edited by Jad Mills

In re Hoffman-La Roche Inc., et al., No. 911 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 2, 2009)
Slip Opinion

On December 2, 2009, a Federal Circuit panel granted Hoffman-La Roche’s petition for a writ of mandamus ordering the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to transfer a patent infringement suit brought by Novartis to the Eastern District of North Carolina.  The Federal Circuit found that district court “clearly abused its discretion” in denying petitioners’ motion to transfer the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a).  This is the second case within the year that the Federal Circuit has ordered transferred out of the Eastern District of Texas on mandamus.  See In re TS Tech USA Corp., 551 F.3d 1315 (Fed. Cir. 2008).

Legal Pad says there was “no earthly reason” for the case to be in the Eastern District of Texas.  Harness, Dickey & Pierce’s legal blog points out that this may portend an easier road for defendants seeking to transfer venue from the Eastern District of Texas, a district considered to be very plaintiff-friendly.  Patently-O summarizes the case. (more…)

Posted On Dec - 7 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Affirms: Spam Patent is Obvious
By Gary Pong – Edited by Jad Mills

Perfect Web Technologies, Inc. v. InfoUSA, Inc., No. 2009-1105 (Fed. Cir. Dec. 2, 2009).
Slip Opinion

The Federal Circuit affirmed the Southern District of Florida’s decision granting summary judgment to invalidate plaintiff’s U.S. Patent No. 6,631,400 (“‘400 patent”) due to the obvious nature of the asserted claims under 35 U.S.C. § 103.

The Federal Circuit held that the ‘400 patent failed the KSR test for obviousness. The patent specification sets out a series of steps for delivering a prescribed quantity of e-mails to targeted recipients. In so holding, the court noted that the claim was so simple and obvious that “ordinary skill in the relevant art required only a high school education and limited marketing and computer experience.” Furthermore, such a case would not require expert opinion and may rely on the common sense available to the person of ordinary skill.

Patently-O provides an overview of the case. The Patent Prospector features a thorough analysis of the judicial opinion. (more…)

Posted On Dec - 6 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Eric Engle

Prosecutors Drop Controversial “Cyberbullying” Case: Possible Appeal?

On November 20, Wired reported that the federal prosecutors in the Lori Drew cyberbullying case did not plan to appeal Drew’s acquittal. The trial judge reversed Drew’s criminal conviction by a jury, holding that criminal penalties for violating a website’s terms of service would be unconstitutional. Although Drew won’t have to further defend against criminal charges for her alleged harassment of a teenage girl who later committed suicide, she might still be liable for civil penalties if the teenage girl’s family decides to sue.

UK Possibly Increasing Standards for Libel Jurisdiction

Britain has long had plaintiff-friendly libel laws relative to the United States and other common-law countries. As a result, plaintiffs will often seek to bring their libel cases in the UK, even if another country might be more closely connected to the facts of the case. However, the availability of Britain as a forum for libel claims may be narrowing – Citizen Media Law Blog reports that a recent High Court decision dismissed a libel claim concerning a posting on a South African magazine’s website, reasoning that the country’s ties to the case were insufficient when only “about [four] visits might have been made by one or more visitors based in the UK.” Although the holding is not permanent British law unless either Parliament or the British Supreme Court endorses it, the decision may signal tougher jurisdictional requirements for British libel claims.

Woman Fighting Insurer After Facebook Posting Leads to Denial of Benefits

CBC News reports that a Quebec woman has had insurance benefits for depression cancelled after publishing vacation photos. The insurance agent claimed that photos of her enjoying her vacation were evidence that she wasn’t depressed. The woman is planning to challenge the denial, and her lawyer has described the Facebook investigation as inappropriate. In response to criticisms about Facebook postings as evidence of mental condition, the insurer stated: “We would not deny or terminate a valid claim solely based on information published on websites such as Facebook.”

ACLU Launches dotRights.org

The Stanford Center for Internet and Society reports that the ACLU of Northern California has launched an online educational resource on privacy and free speech in the internet. The site includes a retro-style video, Facebook quiz, and the chance for developers and legal activists to get involved.

Posted On Nov - 29 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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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 ...

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DRIP Bill Expands UK

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Insue Kim HL Bill 37 ...

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Federal Circuit Gran

By Kyle Pietari – Edited by Insue Kim VirtualAgility, Inc., v. ...