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 Judge Rules Instant Message Modified Contract
By Andrew Crocker – Edited by Jad Mills

CX Digital Media, Inc. v. Smoking Everywhere, Inc., No. 09-62020-Civ (S.D. Fla. Mar 23, 2011)
Slip opinion
hosted by Scribd.com

Last month, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida ruled in favor of plaintiff CX Digital Media, Inc. in a contract dispute with Smoking Everywhere, Inc.

The district court found that an instant message conversation between an employee of CX Digital, an online advertising referral provider, and the Vice President of Marketing at Smoking Everywhere, an electronic cigarette manufacturer, constituted a modification of the companies’ contract for CX Digital to provide online advertising referrals for Smoking Everywhere’s promotional sales offer.  The verdict resulted in an award of over $1.2 million in damages plus accrued interest and attorney’s fees for CX Digital.

The Technology and Marketing Law Blog provides an overview of the case. Techdirt notes that while it may be surprising that instant messaging can constitute contract negotiation, courts regularly find that informal discussions are binding in this way. (more…)

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

By Lauren Henry

Music Industry Disputes the Legality of Amazon’s Media Storage Locker

Last week, Amazon debuted a new music storage storing and streaming service, which enables users to store their music in the cloud and view their content on other devices using an Android app. Ars Technica reports that the music content industry disputes Amazon’s right to offer this service without securing additional licenses. While Amazon has declares its right to provide the service without further licensing, Engadget reports that Amazon might be negotiating licensing agreements behind closed doors. The Guardian suggests that this innovation could change and liberate the way consumers interact with media, and positions Amazon to remain an industry leader in cloud computing. Musicweek notes that since Amazon’s user experience is technically imperfect, other companies with similar models — including Apple and Google — threaten to encroach upon the new ground Amazon broke.

Google to Implement Privacy Program under Google Buzz Settlement

On Wednesday, the FTC announced that it reached a settlement with Google regarding the company’s privacy practices during its rollout of Google Buzz, a social network and microblogging web application. FindLaw discusses the major elements of the settlement agreement, including the implementation of a privacy program dedicated to consumer privacy risk identification and fixes, which will be subject to third-party audits every two years for the next two decades. In an editorial, the Los Angeles Times suggested that this settlement “defines for the industry what the FTC expects of all companies,” and should be heeded by other companies engaged in social networking. Google’s director of privacy issued an apology and promised to improve the company’s privacy practices via the official Google blog.

Facebook Hit with $1 Billion lawsuit over “Third Intifada” Page

TechCrunch reports that Mark Zuckerburg and Facebook have been sued for $1 billion under allegations of assault and negligence, after Facebook removed a page calling for a third Palestinian intifada too long after the page was created. Facebook commented that its policy of permitting free speech led it to permit the page to remain until it became dominated by calls for violence; the page had initially been a forum for peaceful protest. The complaint accuses the defendants of acting tortiously to “further their revenues and the net worth” of the company. TechCrunch and Slate note that the lawyer behind the lawsuit, Larry Klayman, is no stranger to high profile, controversial litigation, having sued Hilary Clinton, the so-called Ground Zero Mosque, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and his own mother.

 

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

Appropriation artist found to have infringed copyrights after failing to show transformative use
By Matthew Becker – Edited by Chinh Vo

Cariou v. Prince, No. 08 Civ. 11327 (DAB) (S.D.N.Y. March 18, 2011)
Slip Opinion
hosted by Scribd

In a closely watched copyright case, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York granted summary judgment for the plaintiff, Patrick Cariou, ruling that the appropriation artist Richard Prince, in conjunction with the Gagosian Gallery, infringed Cariou’s copyrighted works.

The Southern District held that Prince’s works, paintings and collages that incorporated significant portions of Cariou’s published photographs, were not entitled to defense under the doctrine of fair use. Most relevant in this analysis was a consideration of the purpose and character of the use, with a focus on whether Prince’s works were “transformative,” requiring that they “in some way comment on, relate to the historical context of, or critically refer back to the original works.” The court concluded from Prince’s testimony that he did not have an interest in the original meaning of Cariou’s photographs, but simply wanted to reproduce them to send his own message, and therefore the transformative content of his works was “minimal at best.”

The NYT Arts Beat provides an overview of the case. The Art Law Blog criticizes the decision for its narrow interpretation of transformative use, noting that other cases, such as Blanch v. Koons, 467 F.3d 244 (2d Cir. 2006), have found works to be transformative even when they did not comment directly on the original copyrighted work. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 3 - 2011 1 Comment READ FULL POST

Federal Judge Rejects $125m Google Books Settlement
By Philip Yen – Edited by Chinh Vo

The Authors Guild, et al. v. Google Inc., No. 05 Civ. 8136 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 22, 2011)
Opinion
hosted by The Authors Guild

Circuit Judge Denny Chin, sitting for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, rejected the $125 million Google Books class action settlement agreement between the Internet giant and groups representing authors and publishers. The court said that the deal went “too far” and held that the settlement was not fair, adequate, and reasonable.

Under Rule 23(e) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a settlement of a class action requires approval of the court. This will only be given if the court determines that the settlement was “fair, adequate, and reasonable.” Joel A. v. Giuliani, 218 F.3d 132, 138 (2d Cir. 2000). Although recognizing the many benefits that the Google Book Project could yield, the district court identified a number of countervailing policy considerations that weighed against approving the agreement. In particular, the court was concerned that the proposed settlement would release claims well beyond the scope of the pleadings, overreach into copyright regulation (a realm better left to Congress), give Google a monopoly on certain types of books, and implicate international law. Additionally, the court found that the plaintiffs had not adequately represented the interests of certain class members.

The Copyright Litigation Blog provides an overview of the case. The Electronic Frontier Foundation praises the court’s acknowledgment of privacy concerns and class action analysis, but takes issue with some of the its treatment of copyright law. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 2 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Rules Federal Law Trumps State Law in Interpretation of Patent Ownership Rights
By Flora Amwayi – Edited by Jonathan Allred

Abraxis Bioscience, Inc. v. Navinta LLC, 2009-1539, 2011 WL 873298 (Fed. Cir. Mar. 14, 2011)
Slip Opinion

The Federal Circuit denied a petition for an en banc rehearing of a Federal Circuit panel order dismissing Abraxis’ patent infringement case against Navinta. The court dismissed the case on the grounds that Abraxis did not have standing to sue for infringement since it did not own the patents at the time the original complaint against Navinta was filed. The original panel order hinged on whether interpretation of patent ownership should be governed by New York state law (as outlined in choice of law provisions) or by federal rules of patent ownership and assignment (Federal Circuit law). See 35 U.S.C. § 261.

By denying the en banc rehearing, the court affirmed the panel’s holding that the resolution of ownership and assignment question is an issue of Federal Circuit law since it determines a plaintiff’s standing to sue for patent infringement. In so holding, the court stated that “state law cannot retroactively override federal law to revive failed agreements.”

The Patent Law Blog provides an overview of the case. The Patent Prosecutor criticizes the decision as a refusal to correct the Federal Circuit’s intrusion into state contract law. (more…)

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