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Google Appeals Ruling that Use of Java APIs in Android Violates Oracle’s Copyrights

By Katherine Kwong– Edited by Ashish Bakshi

On October 6, Google filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the Court to rule on whether copyright protections extend to the software’s “system or method of operation,” such as application programming interfaces (APIs). Google urges the Court to overturn the Federal Circuit’s previous decision, arguing that allowing long-term copyrights on systems and methods of operations would stifle innovation and creativity.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Ariane Moss

Microsoft Tax Banned in Italy

California Responds to Data Breaches by Strengthening Privacy Laws

EU Court Rules Embedding Is Not Copyright Infringement

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Google Appeals Ruling That Use of Java APIs in Android Violates Oracle’s Copyrights

By Katherine Kwong – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

On October 6, Google filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the Court to rule on whether copyright protections extend to the software’s “system or method of operation,” such as APIs. Google urges the Court to overturn the Federal Circuit’s previous decision, arguing that allowing long-term copyrights on systems and methods of operations would stifle innovation and creativity.

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UN Report Finds Government Mass Surveillance Violates Privacy

By Olga Slobodyanyuk – Edited by Jesse Goodwin

The UN Report from the Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights found that government Internet mass surveillance violates Article 17 of the ICCPR by impinging individuals’ privacy.

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Functional Claim Elements Must Be Backed by Sufficient Structural Guidance

By Asher Lowenstein – Edited by Mengyi Wang

The Federal Circuit found that patent claim terms that offer no guidance to structure and are solely functional are means-plus-function terms and indefinite under § 112(f).

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By Alissa Del Riego*
Edited by Miriam Weiler
Editorial Policy

The FTC’s new Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (“the guidelines”), regulating blog postings that endorse products, take effect December 1, 2009. These guidelines represent the first time since 1980 that the FTC has updated its policies to adapt to new social media and the ever-growing presence of advertisement on the Internet. The guidelines seek to provide consumers with enough information to allow them to distinguish between an online reviewer’s personal opinion about a product and a reviewer’s opinion whose objectivity may be questionable. The guidelines require bloggers to disclose any material relationship they might have with a company whose product they are endorsing online. Failure to disclose could result in disciplinary action (probably a fine) not only for the blogger, but also for the advertiser or manufacturer whose product the blogger is rating. Though the guidelines also address celebrity endorsements, this Comment will focus on the guidelines’ effect on blogging and other online social media.

The guidelines have received a lukewarm reception. Though some commentators have noted that the regulations are long overdue, bloggers and advertisers alike have voiced concerns and objections. This Comment evaluates the new guidelines by acknowledging their necessity, exploring their reach to determine whether they have gone beyond optimal regulation, and finally concluding that they have not.  Part I establishes consumers’ need for additional information when reading cyber reviews. By examining the language of the relevant guidelines and the illustrative examples provided by the FTC, Part II explores the guidelines, their breadth, and the parties affected. Part III analyzes the leading arguments against the guidelines and identifies additional arguments touching upon their regulatory efficiency. Part IV concludes, finding the guidelines a necessary and benign constraint given the lack of information available to online consumers. (more…)

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

It’s once again that time of year: The Digest will be taking a short break from our regular coverage over the coming weeks as our Staff Writers head home for a well-deserved holiday break.

While we take our hiatus from regular coverage, we have the pleasure of re-introducing our Comments feature. Comments are longer opinion pieces on especially significant issues. These pieces are written entirely by members of our staff, on topics they believe warrant closer examination and study. Each week for the rest of December and the beginning of January, we will publish one or two Comments that we have worked on over the semester. We have some especially interesting pieces this winter and we hope you enjoy them!

Also stay tuned for previews of articles that will be published in our print edition next month.

We’ll be back shortly after the New Year with our usual coverage.

We sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed our work this year! Happy holidays!

The Digest Staff

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

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
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