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Whack-a-troll Legislation

Written by Asher Lowenstein     —   Edited by Yaping Zhang

Patent assertion entities’ extensive litigation activities in different states enables to assess the efficacy of the proposed bills against legal strategies these trolls, such as MPHJ Technology, have engaged in. The legal battles confirm some of the concerns about the usefulness of proposed regulatory measures.

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3D Systems and Formlabs Settled Two-Year Patent Dispute

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Yaping Zhang

On December 1, 3D Systems and Formlabs settled their two-year legal dispute over the 520 Patent infringement. Terms of the settlement are undisclosed. The patent covered different parts of the stereolithographic three-dimensional printing process, which uses a laser to cure liquid plastic. 3D Systems was granted the ‘520 Patent in 1997. Formlabs views the settlement as enabling it to continue its expansion and keep developing new products.

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Privacy Concerns in the Sharing Economy: The Case of Uber 

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim

Recent revelations about Uber’s disconcerting use of personal user information have exposed the numerous weaknesses in Uber’s Privacy Policy. The lack of regulation in the area, coupled with the sensitive nature of personal information gathered by Uber, makes the issue one requiring immediate attention of policy makers.

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San Francisco Court Considers Google’s Search and Ad Services Free Speech

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas

A San Francisco court dismissed a lawsuit against Google, treating Google’s search and advertisement services as constitutionally protected free speech. The lawsuit alleged an antitrust violation based on unfavorable treatment of a website in Google’s search results, and on the withdrawal of third-party advertisement from the website. In throwing out the lawsuit, the court applied California’s “anti-SLAPP” law, which allows quick dismissal of lawsuits against acts protected as free speech.

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EU Unitary Patent System Challenge Unsustainable: Advocate General

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union has rendered an opinion on Spain’s challenges to regulations implementing the European Unitary Patent System. The Advocate General opines that the challenges must be dismissed as the system is intended to provide genuine benefit in terms of uniformity and integration, and safeguard the principle of legal certainty, while the choice of languages reduces translation costs considerably.

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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

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
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Whack-a-troll Legisl

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