A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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U.S. Marshals Service Uses Airborne “Dirtboxes” to Collect Cell Phone Data

By Katherine Kwong – Edited by Mengyi Wang

The U.S. government has been using “dirtboxes” to collect cell phone data. The program, designed for criminal suspect surveillance, is accused of also collecting cell phone data on numerous Americans not suspected of any crime. While many commentators express concern about the program’s legality, others argue that the program is an effective method of catching criminals.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News In Brief

By Henry Thomas

Ads For Content Scheme Held To Be Abstract Idea, Not Patentable Process

Federal Circuit Limits Application of Collateral Estoppel in Patent Litigation

Electronics Company Avoids Patent Enforcement By Directing Sales Outside U.S.

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Silk Road 2.0 Takedown Indicates Law Enforcement May Have Developed a Method to Trace Hidden Tor Websites

By Steven Wilfong — Edited by Travis West

The complaint filed against Blake Benthall, the alleged operator of Silk Road 2.0, indicates that the FBI identified a server that was used to host the popular drug market website, despite the fact that the website’s location was hidden by the Tor anonymity software.  Law enforcement may have developed a method of compromising Tor anonymity, a possibility that would prove useful in future operations, but that also raises concerns for legitimate users.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Ken Winterbottom

Motion to Dismiss in Hulu Patent Infringement Suit Affirmed

“Virtual Classroom” Patent Infringement Case Remanded for Further Determination

Attorney Publicly Reprimanded for Circulating Email from Judge

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Spain Passes a “Google Tax,” Analysts Predict it Will be Short-Lived

By Michael Shammas — Edited by Yixuan Long

Spain recently amended its Intellectual Property Law and Code of Civil Procedure to levy fees on aggregators that collect snippets of other webpages. It is at least the third example of a European government fining search aggregators to support traditional print publishing industries, a practice often labeled a “Google tax” because of the disproportionate impact such laws have on the search giant. Some analysts are already predicting that Spain’s new law will fail.

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By Dr. Jur. Eric Engle, LLM[i]
Edited by Gary Pong
Editorial Policy

New technologies have made types of searches possible which could never have been envisioned when the Fourth Amendment was proposed to prohibit unreasonable search and seizure. With remote listening, infrared imaging, and, now, wireless technologies, it is possible to detect movements of people within buildings with no discernible physical impact on the surveilled person’s life.[ii] Are remote searches reasonable? Do they require a warrant?[iii] In my opinion, courts should treat these sorts of remote detection techniques (“surveillance”) as searches subject to the Fourth Amendment’s requirement of reasonableness.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution expressly guaranties that:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The Fourth Amendment was incorporated by the Fourteenth Amendment to apply directly to the states, even though many protections against search and seizure at state common law were more extensive than the Fourth Amendment.[iv] The general rule is that the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unwarranted searches does not apply where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.[v] That leads to the question of when a person has reason to believe that he or she is “in private” as opposed to “in public”. This will depend both on the facts of the case and on social reality.[vi] For example, different cultures within the United States have different senses of what is “public” and what is “private”, and those senses are constantly evolving.[vii] However, one bright line stands out: searches of homes without warrants are presumptively unreasonable because “[a]t the very core [of the Fourth Amendment] stands the right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion.” [viii] (more…)

Posted On Dec - 29 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Andrew Segna, JD ‘12
Edited by Lee Welling
Editorial Policy

Video games have evolved from a niche hobby to an important mainstream form of entertainment and artistic expression in the United States. A May 2009 Ars Technica article stated that Americans are more likely to spend time playing video games then going to see a movie. Video games can now be considered a peer of music, movies, and television. As in these other industries, there has been a recent movement outside of big-budget and high-profile games. Small development teams with limited resources have begun producing unique games that push the boundaries of gameplay and story-telling. Current independent developers grew up on the personal computer (PC) and are familiar with its open nature, meaning that with the PC developers can have unfettered control over their products’ creation and distribution.

This open nature is not without flaws, such as piracy. In response to these flaws, developers have begun moving to other platforms, most importantly the Xbox 360 and the iPhone. The popularity of these devices and their ease of use present an enormous opportunity for independent developers. The evolution of these platforms, however, also presents a significant impediment to the growth of independent games. The flawed free and restrictive natures of the Xbox 360 and the iPhone threaten the financial success of independent games. In contrast, Microsoft’s control over the Xbox 360 and Apple’s control over the iPhone enables these two platform holders to achieve their own goals. The interests of the platform holder and independent developers often do not align, which negatively impacts the latter entity. Independent developers are so intent on producing profitable games that they focus on surviving on the platform instead of changing its structure for the betterment of their peers. In order to overcome the harms of these platforms, this Comment will argue that a legal aid organization should guide independent developers in overcoming Microsoft’s and Apple’s status as repeat players in their respective platforms. (more…)

Posted On Dec - 22 - 2009 1 Comment READ FULL POST

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
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U.S. Marshals Servic

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Silk Road 2.0 Takedo

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Spain Passes a “Go

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