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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By Nathan Lovejoy

Lime Wire Damages Limited To One Statutory Damage Award Per Work

Judge Kimba Wood ruled on March 10th that the statutory damages provision of the Copyright Act authorizes only one damage award per work infringed rather than one award for every infringement. Wood noted that had she adopted the record industry plaintiff’s interpretation the potential damages against the file-sharing software company would be “more money than the entire recording industry has made since Edison’s invention of the phonograph in 1877.” Wood granted summary judgment against Lime Wire in May, and issued an injunction in October which required Lime Wire to cease distribution of its popular program. The trial for damages is set for May 2nd.

AT&T’s Acquisition of T-Mobile May Face Serious Scrutiny

An FCC official indicated to the Wall Street Journal that AT&T’s planned acquisition of T-Moble — which would make the company the largest mobile phone service, surpassing Verizon — would undergo serious scrutiny, saying “[i]t will be a steep climb.” This likely comes as no surprise to AT&T, as the WSJ notes elsewhere that “AT&T seems to understand what it’s up against.” The acquisition deal was announced last week.

Netflix’s Customer Data Practices Challenged

Five plaintiffs have alleged that Netflix has violated the Video Privacy Protection Act (“VPPA”) through its practice of collecting and retaining records of streaming and rental activity of its customers. The VPPA mandates that video rental companies destroy old records that contain personally identifiable information. This law was passed in the wake of Judge Robert Bork’s Supreme Court nomination hearings, during which his video rental history was published.

Righthaven Lawsuit Dismissed On Fair Use Grounds

At a hearing last week, U.S. District Judge James Mahan said that he would dismiss a copyright infringement claim brought by the private enforcement outfit Righthaven on behalf of the Las Vegas Review Journal (“LVRJ”). After the Oregon-based non-profit Center for Intercultural Organizing posted a full-text copy of a LVRJ article on their website, Righthaven filed suit last August without any prior contact or take-down requests. In November, Judge Mahan requested that the parties brief the fair use issue. Righthaven’s for-profit approach to copyright enforcement has been heavily criticized; Mahan’s ruling was welcomed by critic EFF, who represent defendants in other Righthaven cases. Righthaven has filed 250 lawsuits since March 2010, and has suffered one other loss on a fair use claim.

Posted On Mar - 26 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Requires Pleading with Particularity in False Marking Lawsuit
By Raquel Acosta – Edited by Jonathan Allred

In re BP Lubricants USA Inc., No. 960 (Fed. Cir. March 15, 2011)
Slip Opinion

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit granted in part the petition for a writ of mandamus filed by BP Lubricants USA Inc. (“BP”), reversing in part the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, which had denied BP’s motion to dismiss on the grounds that the particularity requirement of Fed. R. Civ. P 9(b) was not met.

The Federal Circuit held that in qui tam false marking suits, cases must be plead with particularity in accordance with Rule 9(b) requirements regarding the circumstances constituting fraud or mistake. The court goes on to state that conclusory allegations are not entitled to an assumption of truth, citing Exergen in support of their holding that a proper pleading cannot merely aver substantive elements of a fraud complaint. Exergen Corp. v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 575 F.3d 1312, 1327 (Fed. Cir. 2009) (holding in cases involving fraud, plaintiff must plead in specific detail the “who, what, when, where, and how” of the circumstances surrounding the intent to deceive). The court reasoned that there must be facts in support of the allegation that BP acted with knowledge or intent to defraud the public. Merely alleging that BP dealt with patents often enough that they knew or should have known the patents had expired was insufficient.

The Inventive Step Blog provides an overview of the case. PatentlyO presents a brief legal analysis on why this decision establishes that the recent influx of false marking lawsuits will not be a lasting trend. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 23 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Tim Grayson

White House Presses for Copyright Reform, Privacy “Bill of Rights”

On Wednesday, the White House released a 20-page white paper (PDF), aimed at helping Congress tackle the increasingly complex issues surrounding copyright and intellectual property laws. As CNET reports, one of the paper’s main purposes was to urge Congress to definitively establish streaming unauthorized media as a felony. Making such “illegal streaming” a felony would empower the FBI to tap the phones, Internet connections, and other communication methods employed by those suspected of such activity. The administration also expressed its support for a new privacy “bill of rights.” The suggested legislation would be aimed at protecting consumers from increasingly invasive data collecting practices that are not expressly illegal under current law.

Former FCC Boss to Become Chief Cable Lobbyist

Ars Technica reports that Michael Powell — who ran the FCC under George W. Bush from 2001 until 2005 — will be the new head of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the nation’s principal cable lobby. Powell’s most defining moment as FCC chair was a series of somewhat bizarre remarks (video) regarding the agency’s role in closing the “digital divide.” Powell, the son of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, replaces Kyle McSlarrow, who left the NCTA earlier this month in order to join Comcast/NBC Universal.

Microsoft Teams up with Feds to Stop Spam

Working in concert with federal law enforcement agencies, Microsoft seized computer equipment across the country designed to cripple the “botnet” Rustock. The raids were part of a civil lawsuit Microsoft filed in federal court, alleging that spam distributed by the botnet harms the company’s products and reputation. Rustock was estimated to be responsible for about 40% of all botnet spam, which in turn accounts for the vast majority of all spam. Microsoft is known for its tough-on-botnet-spam stance, suggesting earlier this year that infected computers be banned from accessing the Internet.

Posted On Mar - 20 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Ninth Circuit Vacates Injunction in Keyword Advertising Case
By Kaethin Prizer – Edited by Kassity Liu

Network Automation, Inc. v. Advanced Systems Concepts, Inc., No. 10-55840 (9th Cir. Mar. 8, 2011)
Slip Opinion

The Ninth Circuit vacated the preliminary injunction granted by the district court to Advance Systems Concepts (“Systems”) in a trademark infringement case involving the use of keyword advertising.

The court found that the lower court erred in its analysis of whether Network Automation’s keyword advertising, which targeted the name of its competitor Systems’ software, created a likelihood of consumer confusion. The district court had prioritized the “Internet troika” factors that were emphasized by this court in Brookfield Commc’ns, Inc. v. West Coast Entm’t Corp., 174 F.3d 1036, 1054 (9th Cir. 1999). The circuit court disagreed with this approach, holding that the “troika” factors should not be the controlling factors for all cases of trademark infringement that involve the internet, and added that the “troika” factors may only be appropriate for domain name disputes. In so holding, the court emphasized that “[w]e must be acutely aware of excessive rigidity in applying the law in the Internet context; emerging technologies require a flexible approach.”

IP Law Chat gives an overview of the case. Public Citizen and Eric Goldman provide thorough analyses of the decision. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 15 - 2011 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Andrew Crocker

Supreme Court to Hear “Major Test of Copyright Power”

SCOTUSblog reports that the Supreme Court has granted certiorari in Golan v. Holder to consider a challenge to the federal law that restored U.S. copyrights to certain foreign works that had previously been in the public domain. The petitioners are “orchestra conductors, educators, performers, film archivists, and motion picture distributors” who claim to have relied upon the formerly public domain works. The petitioners have twice appealed to, and been denied by, the United States Circuit Court for the Tenth Circuit. In its next term, the Supreme Court will rule on both arguments rejected by the Tenth Circuit — that the law violates both the First Amendment and the Copyright Clause of the Constitution. According to Publisher’s Weekly, the works restored to copyright include “symphonies by Shostakovich and Stravinsky, books by Virginia Woolf, artwork by Picasso, and films by Fellini and Hitchcock.”

JOLT Digest has previously reported on filing of the writ of petition for certiorari, the Tenth Circuit’s original ruling in Golan, the district court’s subsequent decision, and the Tenth Circuit’s most recent decision.

Sony Subpoenas IP Records of Visitors to PS3 Jailbreak Site

Wired reports that a magistrate judge in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California has granted Sony’s subpoena request to require a website host to turn over IP addresses of visitors to a New Jersey hacker’s site. George Hotz, the site owner, posted encryption keys and other software that allow owners of Sony’s Playstation 3 (“PS3”) to “jailbreak” the console. Sony argues that Hotz violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s prohibition on distributing tools that allow circumvention of technological copy protections, since jailbreaking the PS3 allows owners to run pirated games. The court also granted Sony the right to subpoena related information from Hotz’s accounts on Twitter, YouTube and Blogger.

Lime Wire Settles Suit with Music Publishers

Bloomberg reports that a group of music publishers, including EMI and Warner Brothers, has settled their lawsuit against Lime Wire LLC, creator of the now defunct file-sharing service LimeWire. The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed. Last year, in a suit brought by the Recording Industry Association of America (“RIAA”), Lime Wire was found liable for copyright infringement and forced to shut down. According to CNET, the music publishers filed suit after the RIAA ruling — as did a separate group of record labels, whose suit is still pending. The Hollywood Reporter notes that in the pending suit, Lime Wire has been attempting to use discovery “to show that [labels’] claims of revenue losses are exaggerated.”

Techcrunch Using Facebook “Real Name” Commenting System

Techcrunch announced recently that it is the latest in a series of major sites to use a Facebook-based plugin for user comments on the site’s posts. Because the plugin requires a Facebook account to post, users’ comments will now be associated with their real names, and the comments will be added to their Facebook feed by default. Although Techcrunch says it is responding to “trolls and spammers,” PC Mag wonders if the lack of anonymity will have chilling effects on online debate. Additionally, on the Huffington Post Larry Magid points out that the move further isolates users who choose not to register for Facebook accounts.

Posted On Mar - 13 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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