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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Personal entry on MySpace admitted into evidence in Indiana murder case

By Kassity Liu – Edited by Stephanie Weiner

Clark v. State, No. 43C01-0705-FA-127 (Ind. Oct. 15, 2009).
Opinion

On October 15, the Supreme Court of Indiana affirmed a murder conviction and sentence, rejecting the defendant’s claims on appeal, including an argument that the trial court improperly admitted as character evidence an entry he made online on his MySpace page.  The defendant claimed the admission was in violation of the Indiana Rules of Evidence.

Internet Cases and the WSJ Law Blog provide an overview of the case. Evidence Prof Blog criticizes the court’s reasoning on the MySpace entry issue, noting that the evidence was likely admitted in violation of Indiana Rule of Evidence 404(a), not considered by the court. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 19 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Delaware District Court Distinguishes Posting and Publication for Purposes of the Copyright Act.

By Ian C. Wildgoose Brown – Edited by Stephanie Weiner

Moberg v. 33T LLC, Civil No. 08-625(NLH)(JS) (D. Del. Oct. 6, 2009).
Opinion

On October 6, the United States Court for the District of Delaware ruled in a case of first impression that a photograph posted to the Internet from a foreign server is not a “United States work” within the meaning of section 411 of the Copyright Act, and thus need not be registered in the U.S. in order to bring suit for infringement. 17 U.S.C § 411(a). Håkan Moberg, a Sweden-based photographer, brought a copyright infringement action against 33T, LLC, a Delaware corporation, and Cedric and Erwan Leygues, France-based website operators, for unauthorized use of photographs he had displayed on a German website in 2004.  The court denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss, allowing the photographer to go forward with his suit without having to first register his copyright in the United States.

Loeb & Loeb LLP provides an overview of the case. Ex©lusive Rights suggests that the outcome was largely inconsequential. But CyberLaw Currents sees the case as significant for international copyright law. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 18 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Davis Doherty

Freedom of Speech Prevails in UK Thanks to Twitter

On October 12, the UK-based newspaper The Guardian reported it was unable to report on a question asked of a minister during Parliamentary proceedings due to “legal obstacles, which cannot be identified.” Political bloggers and tweeters quickly responded, reporting the question was related to the oil-trading company Trafigura, which is under investigation for allegedly dumping toxic waste in the Ivory Coast. Within hours, Trafigura rose to the top of the Twitter “trending topics.” The resulting publicity led the company to relax the terms of its court-ordered gag rule. On October 13, the Guardian reported the details of Trafigura’s “super-injunction,” a gag order so broad that it prevented the newspaper from revealing the injunction’s existence.

Copyright Treaty a Secret, Unless You’ve Got Connections

The next round of negotiations for the multinational Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (“ACTA”) is scheduled to run November 4 through November 6 in Korea, but the United States Trade Representative is being coy about its contents. Wired reports that although the language of the treaty is classified, forty-two individuals from the private sector are allowed access to its contents under a nondisclosure agreement. Their names, including both industry and public interest organization representatives, were revealed after Knowledge Ecology International requested the information under the Freedom of Information Act.

Winner of Patent Suit Against Microsoft Sues Internet Giants

Eolas, an internet technology company that won a patent-infringement suit against Microsoft in 2003, is now taking action against the rest of the high-tech world. Ars Technica and CNET reported on October 6 that Eolas, which holds two patents related to web browser plug-in technology, is suing twenty-three other companies for infringement in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. After withstanding Microsoft’s legal challenges to its patent in the 2003 case, Eolas is looking to repeat its success against the likes of Apple, Amazon, Google, Yahoo, and YouTube. However, a Supreme Court decision in the upcoming case Bilski v. Doll may reduce Eolas’ chances at court if software patents are weakened.

By Davis Doherty

Freedom of Speech Prevails in UK Thanks to Twitter

On October 12, the UK-based newspaper The Guardian reported it was unable to report on a question asked of a minister during Parliamentary proceedings due to “legal obstacles, which cannot be identified.” Political bloggers and tweeters quickly responded, determining the question was related to the oil-trading company Trafigura, under investigation for allegedly dumping toxic waste in the Ivory Coast. Within hours, Trafigura rose to the top of the Twitter “trending topics.” The resulting publicity led the company to relax the terms of its court-ordered gag rule. On October 13, the Guardian reported the details of Trafigura’s “super-injunction,” a gag order so broad that it prevented the newspaper from revealing the injunction’s existence.

Copyright Treaty a Secret, Unless You’ve Got Connections

The next round of negotiations for the multinational Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is scheduled to run November 4 through November 6 in Korea, but the United States Trade Representative is being coy about its contents. Wired reports that although the language of the treaty is classified, forty-two individuals from the private sector are allowed access to its contents under a nondisclosure agreement. Their names, including both industry and public interest organization representatives, were revealed after Knowledge Ecology International requested the information under the Freedom of Information Act.

Winner of Patent Suit Against Microsoft Sues Internet Giants

Eolas, an internet technology company that won a patent-infringement suit against Microsoft in 2003, is now taking action against the rest of the high-tech world. Ars Technica and CNET reported on October 6 that Eolas, which holds two patents related to web browser plug-in technology, is suing twenty-three other companies for infringement in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. After withstanding Microsoft’s legal challenges to its patent in the 2003 case, Eolas is looking to repeat its success against the likes of Apple, Amazon, Google, Yahoo, and YouTube. However, a Supreme Court decision in the upcoming case Bilski v. Doll may reduce Eolas’ chances at court if software patents are weakened.

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

Back to Drawing Board for Pa. State Legislature in Protecting Trademark Holders
By Brittany Blueitt – Edited by Stephanie Weiner

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Omar, No. J-162A-B-2008 (Pa. Oct. 5, 2009)
Majority Opinion (Baer, J.)
Concurring Opinion (Castille, J.)
Dissenting Opinion (Eakin, J.)
Dissenting Opinion (Greenspan, J.)

On October 5, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania affirmed two consolidated Centre County Court of Common Pleas decisions dismissing criminal trademark counterfeiting charges on the ground that Pennsylvania’s Trademark Counterfeiting Statute, 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4119, is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.  The court held that the statute is unconstitutional because it criminalizes a substantial amount of speech protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.  Commonwealth v. Omar, No. J-162A-B-2008, slip op. at 10 (Pa. Oct. 5, 2009).

IP Spotlight provides an overview of the case. CNBC features an extended analysis of the decision.  The Madisonian declares the decision overly formalistic. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 16 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Court Rules That Software License Transfers Ownership
By Kate Wevers – Edited by Anthony Kammer

Vernor v. Autodesk, Inc., No. C07-1189RAJ (W.D. Wash., Sept. 30, 2009)
Opinion

On September 30, the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington granted, in part, Vernor’s motion for summary judgment against Autodesk.After Autodesk became aware of Vernor’s attempts to sell copies of its copyrighted software, AutoCAD, on eBay, it invoked the takedown provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, causing Vernor to be barred from selling anything on eBay for a month. Vernor sued, seeking, among other remedies, declaratory judgment that these sales were not in violation of copyright. In granting summary judgment for Vernor, the Court held that a customer who had acquired AutoCAD packages pursuant to Autodesk’s software license agreement (“License”) became an owner of the physical copies of the software with the right to resell the AutoCAD packages under the first sale doctrine (17 USC § 109(a)).

The Court also accepted that the owner was protected from claims of contributory copyright infringement by 17 USC § 117. The Court had previously considered very similar issues in the context of Autodesk’s earlier motion to dismiss. See Vernor v. Autodesk, Inc., 555 F. Supp. 2d 1164 (W.D. Wash. 2008)).

A selection of briefs and relevant court documents are available here. The Technology & Marketing Law Blog provides a useful overview and analysis of the case. The outcome was heralded as pro-consumer by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, but Blog Nauseum suggests that the decision is not much of a win for consumers. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 12 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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