A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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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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Ninth Circuit Rejects Fox’s Request to Shut Down Dish Services, Despite Aereo Decision

By Sheri Pan – Edited by Insue Kim

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Fox’s motion for a preliminary injunction.  Fox argued that the technologies would irreparably harm Fox because they violate copyright laws, but the Ninth Circuit ruled that the district court did not err in finding that the harm alleged by Fox was speculative, noting that Fox had failed to present evidence documenting such harm.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Patrick Gutierrez

Senate passes bill to make cell phone unlocking legal

ABA urges lawyers to stop pursuing file sharing lawsuits

FBI cautions that driverless cars may be used to assist criminal behavior

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By Tyler Lacey

Gamer Appeals Ban from Sony’s Playstation 3 Network

On September 22, 2009, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California dismissed Erik Estavillo’s lawsuit against Sony. Fox40.com reports that Estavillo was banned from Sony’s Playstation 3 Network after allegedly uttering “racial and homophobic slurs to other online gamers.” Estavillo alleged that his freedom of expression was abridged, and likened Sony’s network to a company town. The district court dismissed Estavillo’s First Amendment claims, stating: “Sony’s Network is not similar to a company town. The Network does not serve a substantial portion of a municipality’s functions, but rather serves solely as a forum for people to interact subject to specific contractual terms.” Estavillo recently appealed the dismissal to the Ninth Circuit and has also filed a second lawsuit against Sony.

German Government Pledges to Protect Online Journalism in Germany with a “New Kind of Copyright”

On October 29, 2009, the New York Times reported that Germany’s governing coalition “has pledged to create a new kind of copyright to protect online journalism” with the goal of “level[ing] the playing field with Internet companies like Google.” German publishers fear that Google may be “exploiting their content to build lucrative businesses without sharing the rewards.” Google aggregates news from many news outlets on its Google News website; however, Google News operates in Europe without collecting any advertising revenue. Although “[d]etails of how the proposal would work have not been spelled out,” analysts believes that the new copyright scheme may allow online journalists to “claim royalties for the use of their content by Google or other online ‘aggregators’ of news.” In support of the new scheme, counsel for the German Newspaper Publishers Association argues that there is “no fundamental right to information for free on the Internet.”

United Kingdom to Crack Down on Online Piracy; Could Lead to Outright Disconnection of Pirates

On October 28, 2009, the BBC reported on new legislation that will come into force in the United Kingdom in April 2010. Although “the details of it would need to be hammered out at European level,” the legislation will impose bandwidth restriction on suspected pirates. If necessary, more restrictions will be introduced in the spring of 2011 that could completely disconnect the suspected pirates from the Internet. The legislation already faces challenge from ISP TalkTalk, which has created a “Don’t Disconnect Us” campaign and threatened litigation. Although the legislation is designed to protect the United Kingdom’s creative content industries, legislators emphasize that the long-term solution is for “the industry to educate users and to offer new and cheaper ways to download content.”

Posted On Oct - 31 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Jyoti Uppuluri

Nokia Sues Apple for Patent Infringement Related to iPhone

On October 22, Nokia filed a suit against Apple in Delaware federal court, alleging that the iPhone infringes patents held by Nokia. The New York Times reports that the specific patents deal with the GSM and UMTS wireless standards utilized by the iPhone for voice and data communication, both of which were developed in part by Nokia. The Wall Street Journal notes that the suit might be a strategic response to the iPhone’s increasing momentum in Europe and Asia. Nokia could gain a two-percent royalty on each iPhone sold if the suit succeeds.

Tennessee Couple Is Entitled to Unmask Anonymous Blogger

On October 8, a Tennessee state court held in Swartz v. Does that a couple is entitled to know the identity of the individual who posted critical statements about them in an online blog. Ars Technica notes that the blogger’s claim to protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act likely failed because the blog induced readers to spy on the Swartzes and report back on the blog. The Citizen Media Law Project points out that the legal standard used by the judge in this case was “highly protective of anonymous online speech,” but that the Swartzes provided “sufficient evidence in support of their claims of wrongdoing to outweigh the anonymous blogger’s right to anonymity.”

Posted On Oct - 28 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Charges against Craigslist for their “Adult Services” section dismissed by Illinois District Court
By Ye (Helen) He – Edited by Eric Engle

Dart v. Craigslist, Inc., No. 09 C 1385 (N.D. Ill. Oct. 20, 2009)
Opinion

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois held, on Craigslist’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, that Craigslist is not liable for the content posted by its viewers. The court cited Section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act, concluding that Craigslist, as an Internet classified ads service provider, is immune to civil liability for third party content. The court found Craigslist analogous to an ISP or phone service provider and thus not liable for users’ content and conduct, as opposed to, as plaintiff contended, a newspaper or magazine which may be held liable for its ads.

Bloomberg.com and Eric Goldman’s Technology & Marketing Law Blog summarize the case.

(more…)

Posted On Oct - 24 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Facebook, Inc. v. Power Ventures, Inc.
By Gary Pong – Edited by Eric Engle

Facebook, Inc. v. Power Ventures, Inc., Case No. 08-cv-05780-JF (N.D. Cal. Oct. 22, 2009)
Order (Hosted by SPAM NOTES)

The United States District Court for the Northern District of California has granted a motion by Facebook to dismiss counter-claims and strike affirmative defenses in its ongoing case against Power Ventures (Power.com). In his order, United States District Judge Jeremy Fogel wrote that Power.com’s answer and counter-claim relied on legal conclusions which were not directly supported by factual allegations. Judge Fogel went on to note that antitrust claims, like those made by Power.com, “require a ‘higher degree of particularity in the pleadings.’” The order gives Power.com 30 days to amend its pleading.

TechCrunch provides an overview of the issues involved in this case. The Financial Times and Eric Goldman’s Technology & Marketing Law Blog comment on the decision. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 24 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal District Court Rules Ringtones Not Public Performance
By Debbie Rosenbaum – Edited by Eric Engle

In re: In the Matter of the Application of Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless, Case Nos. 09-cv-07074 & 41 Civ. 1395 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 14, 2009)
Opinion (Hosted by EFF)

The Southern District of New York has ruled that cell phone ringtones do not constitute a public performance, and thus mobile phone carriers do not need to pay performance royalties under the Section 110(4) of the Copyright Act.  The court also dismissed the argument that cell phone carriers publicly perform when they reproduce and download a ringtone to a phone.

United States District Judge Denise Cote dismissed the music industry argument that a ringtone is like a concert hall when it begins ringing/playing in public, instead determining that playing music in public, when done without any commercial purpose, does not infringe copyright.   In so holding, the court ruled that cell phone users are not liable for royalty payments and that carriers are not secondarily liable.  Judge Cote reasoned that the exemption Section 110(4) applies because cell phones announce phone calls and are not sources of commercial public entertainment.

Ars Technica and Wired.com provide an overview of the case.  Both EFF and CDT applaud the decision as a major win for consumers and fair use. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 20 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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