A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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The Court of Justice of the European Union Finds the Harbor No Longer Safe

Written by: Ann Kristin Glenster - Edited by: David Nathaniel Tan

This fall, the Court of Justice of the European Union delivered a landmark ruling,  holding that the Safe Harbor Agreement on the handling of personal data by U.S. companies in Europe was invalid. This article will give a brief overview of the case, and explore the salient issues to which the European Court took umbrage. Finally, it will attempt to sketch out some possible consequences of the ruling, and the options that now face E.U. and U.S. legislators.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Yiran Zhang – Edited by Olga Slobodyanyuk

Senators Introduce a Bill which Requires Social Media Companies to Report Terrorist Activity

New EU Copyright Rules Left Possibility for Google Tax

COP21 Reached an “Ambitious and Balanced” Deal on Climate Change

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By David Nathaniel Tan – Edited by Adi Kamdar

Software Pirate Settles Suit Via YouTube

After Paris Attacks, FCC Chairman Calls for Expanded Wiretap Laws

Hoverboards Declared Illegal in New York City

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Belgian Court Demands that Facebook Stop Tracking Non-Members

By Mila Owen – Edited by Kayla Haran

The Belgian Privacy Commission requested a cessation order against Facebook regarding their practice of placing “datr” cookies on devices of non-Facebook users to track activity on other Facebook pages or on pages containing the “like” or “share” button. The court ruled that this tracking violates the Belgian Privacy Act because it amounts to the collection and “processing of personal data.”

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Facebook not liable for discrimination against Sikhs in India

By Ann Kristin Glenster – Edited by Yaping Zhang

By dismissing Sikhs for Justice Inc.’s case against Facebook for discrimination by blocking the group’s page in India, the United District Court of Northern California maintains the neutrality of interactive online providers and exempts them from liability under Title II of the Civil Rights Act.

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By Sharona Hakimi

Gates Denounces WikiLeaks disclosure of sensitive documents from Afghanistan

On July 29, Wired and the New York Times reported that Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen publicly condemned WikiLeaks for publishing 75,000 secret documents relating the Afghanistan War.  During a Pentagon press briefing, Mullen said that the activists who run WikiLeaks “might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier” or an Afghan partner whose identity was exposed. Though the documents did not seem to have strategic value, Gates stated that because of the “massive breach,” “[t]actics, techniques and procedures will become known to our adversaries.” Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has defended his website as providing a truthful portrait of the situation in Afghanistan, and said the organization held back thousands of documents for security reasons. The FBI is currently assisting in an internal departmental investigation to determine the source of the leak.

Google StreetView not liable in UK for WiFi snooping

Ars Technica reported that the British Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has found that information captured from WiFi networks by the Google StreetView cars was not “significant” as it did not include “meaningful personal details.” The ICO issued a statement that, although Google was wrong to collect the information, the data could not be linked to an “identifiable person” and thereby cause harm. The ICO and other international agencies are still investigating Google StreetView to see if Google has broken any data privacy laws.

The DOJ sues Oracle for fraudulent software sales

CNET reported that the US Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against Oracle contending that the company defrauded the government by offering software discounts that were “far inferior” to those provided to its commercial clients. Oracle and the federal General Services Administrations engaged in a software deal from 1998 to 2006 that resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. Under the contract, Oracle was to offer any improved commercial discounts to the government agencies. The DOJ brought the suit under the False Claims Act in the U.S. District Court for the District of Eastern Virginia.

Posted On Aug - 5 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Fifth Circuit Limits DMCA by Distinguishing Circumvention to Access Software and Circumvention to Violate Copyright
By Ian B. Brooks – Edited by Helen He

MGE UPS Systems, Inc. v. GE Consumer and Indus. Inc., No. 08-10521 (5th Cir. July 20, 2010)
Slip Opinion

The Fifth Circuit affirmed the ruling of the District Court for the Northern District of Texas, which dismissed MGE UPS Systems Inc.’s (“MGE”) Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) claim against Power Maintenance International, Inc. (“PMI”) and General Electric Company (“GE”) pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P 50(a).

The Fifth Circuit held that the DMCA’s provisions apply to protections designed to prevent infringement of copyrighted material and not protection from mere access to that material.  Thus, the circumvention of a protection measure that fails to shield the copyrighted material from being read and copied is not a violation of the DMCA.  The court further noted that once a protection measure has been circumvented, the DMCA no longer applies to the use of that work.

Barry Sookman provides an overview of the case and an analysis of the court’s ruling.  Info/Law has a critical discussion of the DMCA in light of this case’s holding. (more…)

Posted On Aug - 2 - 2010 1 Comment READ FULL POST

Ninth Circuit reverses court order granting toymaker Mattel ownership of Bratz doll brand
By Abby Lauer – Edited by Janet Freilich

MGA Entertainment, Inc. v. Mattel, Inc., No. 09-55673 (9th Cir. July 22, 2010)
Slip Opinion

In a decision making headlines across the nation, the Ninth Circuit reversed the Central District of California, which had given Mattel ownership rights to the Bratz doll brand after a jury found that the designer who created the dolls was working for Mattel when he conceived the idea. Along with ownership of the Bratz brand, the district court also ordered Bratz manufacturer MGA to pay Mattel $10 million in damages.

The Ninth Circuit held that MGA had significantly improved the value of the Bratz brand as a result of its investment in the product, development efforts, and marketing since the dolls were first sold in 2001. Writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski maintained that it would not be equitable to completely revoke MGA’s ownership of the billion-dollar Bratz line, even if development of the brand may have started with a misappropriated idea. In so holding, Judge Kozinski stated that a significant portion – if not all – of the jury’s verdict and damages award should be vacated, and that the entire case will probably have to be retried.

Bloomberg provides an overview of the case. The Wall Street Journal offers additional commentary about the prolonged legal battle between Mattel and MGA to determine the rightful owner of the Bratz brand. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 31 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Chinh Vo

Republican Senators Draft Bill in Opposition to FCC’s Net Neutrality Regulations Plans

CNET reports that a group of Republican senators, led by Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, is sponsoring a new bill designed to thwart the FCC’s plans to regulate broadband providers. The bill, dubbed the Freedom for Consumer Choice Act, would allow the FCC to impose requirements on the broadband industry only if marketplace competition is inadequate, giving the agency authority similar to the Department of Justice’s ability to enforce antitrust. As JOLT has previously reported, many members of Congress have expressed concern over the FCC’s attempt to impose Net neutrality rules by reclassifying broadband as a telecommunications service, following the decision in Comcast Corp. v. FCC limiting the agency’s jurisdiction over broadband services.

Lawyers Drop Suit Against Scribd Featuring Novel Application of Copyright Act

Wired reports that lawyers have dropped a copyright infringement lawsuit against document-sharing website Scribd. The case, filed last September by children’s writer Elaine Scott after one of her books appeared on Scribd, had been closely watched because Scott’s lawyers sought a novel application of the Copyright Act. In addition to attacking the site for failing to block the unauthorized upload, Scott’s lawyers claimed Scribd’s copying and insertion of her copyrighted work into its filtering system — to prevent future unauthorized uploads — was itself a violation of the Copyright Act. Many university sites, social networks, and user-generated content sites employ similar filtering methods that compare uploaded materials to a database of copyrighted works.

Cell Phone Group Files Suit to Block San Francisco Radiation Ordinance

PCWorld reports that CTIA, an international group representing the wireless telecommunications industry, has sued the city of San Francisco in an attempt to block a recently-enacted ordinance requiring cell phone retailers to post how much radiation their devices emit. The complaint, filed in the Northern District of California, argues that the city exceeded its authority by passing regulations related to an issue already addressed by the FCC. According to CTIA, the ordinance conflicts with federal law because the heightened labeling requirements undermine the FCC’s determination that all FCC-compliant cell phones are safe. The suit also alleges that the city ordinance violates the Communications Act by imposing a condition for entry to the wireless market — a power the Act limits to the federal government.

Posted On Jul - 27 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Ninth Circuit Argues for Less Stringent Test for Protecting Anonymous Online Commercial Speech
By Kathryn Freund – Edited by Janet Freilich

In re: Anonymous Online Speakers, No. 09-71265 (9th Cir. July 12, 2010)
Opinion

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied writs of mandamus appealing the District Court of Nevada’s order to disclose the identities of anonymous online posters. Although the Circuit Court denied the writs of mandamus for procedural reasons, the decision provides a discussion of Free Speech protection of commercial speech posted on the Internet.

Judge McKeown held that the District Court committed no clear error in ordering the release of the identities of three anonymous online speakers. In discussing the various tests for protecting anonymous speech, she stated that the District Court applied too stringent a standard for commercial speech by relying on the test announced in Doe v. Cahill, 884 A.2d 451 (Del. 2005), which involved political speech. The court noted that the First Amendment affords less protection to commercial speech, and thus the balancing test between discovery and Free Speech should be based on “the nature of the speech,” with commercial speech subject to less stringent protection. In re: Anonymous Online Speakers, at *9920. In the discussion, the court noted the likelihood of an increasing number of cases involving anonymous online commercial speech and the lack of appellate decisions involving such discovery disputes.

The Internet Cases blog provides an overview of the decision and points out the significance of the case as the third federal circuit court case to address the issue of online anonymity. Citizen Media Law Project provides a more extensive overview and questions whether the Ninth Circuit’s definition of commercial speech will reduce free speech protection for “legitimate consumer criticism.” (more…)

Posted On Jul - 27 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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