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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Olga Slobodyanyuk

ICANN responds to terrorism victims by claiming domain names are not property

D.C. District Court rules that FOIA requests apply to officials’ personal email accounts

Class-action lawsuit brought against ExamSoft  in Illinois

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Federal Circuit Applies Alice to Deny Subject Matter Eligibility of Digital Imaging Patent

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang

In Digitech Image Technologies, the Federal Circuit embraced the opportunity to apply the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Alice to resolve a question of subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. §101. The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment on appeal, invalidating Digitech’s patent claims because they were directed to intangible information and abstract ideas.

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Unlocking Cell Phones Made Legal through Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Insue Kim

Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act allows consumers to unlock their cell phones when changing service providers, but the underlying issue of “circumvention” may have broader implications for other consumer devices and industries that increasingly rely on software.

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SDNY Magistrate Grants Government Search Warrant for Full Access to Suspect’s Gmail Account in Criminal Investigation

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Travis West

In an opinion that conflicts with decisions from the DC District Court and the District of Kansas, a SDNY magistrate granted the government’s search warrant for full access to a criminal investigation suspect’s Gmail account.

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

In 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 the evidence was insufficient to decide whether the plaintiffs had standing to bring a claim regarding storage of digital copies for preservation purposes.

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By Travis West

Icon-newsNSA responds to ABA demand for clarification regarding surveillance of privileged communications

After revelations that intelligence agencies may be spying on privileged communications between lawyers and their clients, the American Bar Association (“ABA”) wrote a letter to the National Security Agency (“NSA”) demanding that the agency clarify its policies regarding the collection of potentially confidential information. The ABA expressed concern that the NSA may be infringing on “the bedrock legal principle” of attorney-client privilege. The NSA responded that it “has afforded, and will continue to afford, appropriate protection to privileged attorney-client communications,” pointing, as an example, to its Section 702 Minimization Procedures for collecting data in a criminal proceeding under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. 50 U.S.C. § 1881a.

In response, ABA President James Silkenat voiced the organization’s appreciation for “the NSA’s expression of respect for the attorney-client privilege” and indicated that the ABA “looks forward to continuing a constructive dialogue” with the agency. At the same time, as reported by Lawfare Blog, the ABA now offers a course for lawyers on how to prevent spying on their communications – both “abroad and at home.” The Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”) expressed disappointment with the NSA’s lack of clarity in its response to the ABA and with the ABA’s quiet acceptance of that response. With respect to government surveillance of privileged communications, the EFF predicts that the “only real dialogue now can be in courtrooms and in Congress.”

United States to turn over control of Domain Name System

In a surprising move, the United States National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) announced that it would be turning over control of the root Domain Name System (“DNS”) to international control in 2015. Currently, the DNS is run by the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”), who received the contract to run the system from the NTIA, a subsidiary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The DNS comprises technology that translates a human-readable website name, such as “www.google.com” to a device-readable IP address, like 66.233.160.0. The controller of the DNS possesses great power, since it could remove a domain name and thus make it impossible for people to find the associated website. While the United States has not exercised that power, many countries have feared the possibility.

The United States has planned to relinquish control of the root DNS to the international community since the 1990s, originally hoping for the transition to take place in 2000. The recent announcement comes shortly before the April 2014 ICANN meeting, at which Brazil was expected to propose its own DNS, which would have lead to a fracturing of the Internet. The United States’ relinquishing control of the DNS should scuttle those efforts. However, the United States did not announce what form of governance will now oversee the DNS, raising questions about which companies or international organizations have the technical expertise required to administer the the system.

Turkey bans Twitter with limited success

Within hours of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s promise to “wipe out” Twitter, Turkey’s courts ordered Twitter blocked nationwide. The court order arrived shortly after recordings allegedly showing corruption in Erdogan’s inner circle appeared on social media. The ban – accomplished by a change in the Domain Name Service (“DNS”) hosted by Turkish network providers – initially proved ineffective. Almost 3 million tweets were posted in Turkey in the first 24 hours following the ban, and Twitter itself posted workarounds to the DNS ban. However, the Turkish government has now extended the block to the IP addresses of Twitter in Turkey, which has forced users to install Tor or a VPN client to get around the ban.

Posted On Mar - 26 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Jenny Choi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

Vederi, LLC v. Google Inc., No. 2013-1057 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 14, 2014)
Slip Opinion

Photo By: Kathy McGrawCC BY 2.0

On March 14, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed and vacated the United States District Court for the Central District of California’s decision entering summary judgment in favor of Google, Inc. The district court had held that Google’s “Street View” product did not infringe asserted patents of Vederi, LLC. because its images are a curved representation of the world and thus not elevation views. The Federal Circuit held that the district court erred in narrowly interpreting “substantially elevation,” based on extrinsic evidence, to cover only flat images. Vederi, slip op. at 9. After analyzing intrinsic evidence, the Federal Circuit held that “substantially elevation” covered both flat and spherical images. Id. at 10. Consequently, the Federal Circuit vacated the summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings. Id. at 14. The Federal Circuit noted that it preferred claim construction based on intrinsic evidence and interpretation that “gives meaning to all the terms of the claim.” Id. at 10.

Bloomberg and Wiley Rein, LLP provide a short summary of the case. PatentlyO also provides an overview of the case and cites Vederi as an example of the Federal Circuit’s continuing denial of any direct patent-related input from Judge Kozniski, who is Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and who sat by designation in deciding on summary judgment in Vederi at the district court. The Wake Forest Journal of Business & Intellectual Property Law provides background on the case’s initial filing in 2010. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 25 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Zoe Bedell – Edited by Gea Kang

Photo By: satanoidCC BY 2.0

On March 13, 2014, the San Antonio City Council pre-approved a long-term lease that would allow Google to begin construction to bring Google Fiber to the city. While Google has not yet chosen San Antonio as a destination for its fiber network, the city’s leaders hope that the lease will encourage Google to do so. Wired discusses the city’s move.

Google’s high-speed Internet service is currently available in Kansas City, Missouri, and Provo, Utah. Google has also announced plans to expand to Austin, Texas, and will be considering thirty-four additional cities in nine different metropolitan areas for further expansion. The company has established selection criteria that will speed up the review process and ensure that construction can proceed quickly. For instance, Google asks interested cities to provide details on existing infrastructure and to review local permitting processes. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 25 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Mark Verstraete — Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

Greene v. MtGox Inc., No. 1:14-cv-1437 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 27, 2014)
Complaint hosted by Scribd

Joyce . MtGox Inc. (Mar. 14, 2014), No. cv-14-500253-00CP (Can. Ont. Sup. Ct. J.)
Complaint hosted by Ars Technica

Photo By: fdecomiteCC BY 2.0

Putative class action suits have been filed against Mt. Gox—the now defunct online bitcoin exchange—in both the United States and Canada. In Febrauary 2014, Mt. Gox halted withdrawals after being hit with a sustained distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. Several days later, it filed for bankruptcy when 850,000 bitcoins were stolen.

The U.S. suit, Greene v. MtGox Inc., No. 1:14-cv-1437 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 27, 2014), proposes two classes of Plaintiffs:

(1) “Payment Class: All persons in the United States who paid a fee to Mt. Gox to buy, sell, or otherwise trade bitcoins.”

(2) “Frozen Currency Class: All persons in the United States who had bitcoins or Fiat Currency stored with Mt. Gox on February 7, 2014.”

Complaint, Greene, at 10. The two proposed classes allege several causes of action against Mt. Gox, including consumer fraud, negligence, and conversion. In their negligence claim against Mt. Gox, the plaintiffs allege that Mt. Gox breached its “duty to employ procedures to detect and prevent the improper access and misuse of Plaintiff’s and the Classes’ bitcoins,” and that this breach caused the “Plaintiff and the Payment Class [to] suffer economic injury and other damages.” Id. at 19.

Ars Technica provides commentary on the complaint. Reuters also discusses Mt. Gox’s decision to file for bankruptcy in the wake of this complaint. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 24 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Albert Chen – Edited by Sheri Pan

In re Application of the FBI for an Order Requiring the Prod. of Tangible Things, No. BR 14-01 (FISA Ct. Mar. 7, 2014)
Slip opinion

On March 7, 2014, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (“FISA Court”) denied the government’s request to amend a January 3, 2014 FISA order (“Primary Order”) to indefinitely extend the five-year limit on retaining metadata collected by the National Security Agency (“NSA”). Id. at 12.

The court reasoned that an indefinite retention period would violate privacy interests while failing to substantially improve national security. It rejected the government’s arguments that retention was necessary for it to meet its preservation obligations to plaintiffs in civil litigation suits involving the NSA.

Ars Technica provides an overview of the case. Emptywheel and Techdirt provide commentary.

(more…)

Posted On Mar - 19 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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Flash Digest: News i

By Olga Slobodyanyuk ICANN responds to terrorism victims by claiming domain ...

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Federal Circuit Appl

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Unlocking Cell Phone

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Insue Kim On July 25, ...

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SDNY Magistrate Gran

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Creating full-text searchable database of copyrighted works is “fair use” By ...