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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Federal District Court Rules Ringtones Not Public Performance
By Debbie Rosenbaum – Edited by Eric Engle

In re: In the Matter of the Application of Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless, Case Nos. 09-cv-07074 & 41 Civ. 1395 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 14, 2009)
Opinion (Hosted by EFF)

The Southern District of New York has ruled that cell phone ringtones do not constitute a public performance, and thus mobile phone carriers do not need to pay performance royalties under the Section 110(4) of the Copyright Act.  The court also dismissed the argument that cell phone carriers publicly perform when they reproduce and download a ringtone to a phone.

United States District Judge Denise Cote dismissed the music industry argument that a ringtone is like a concert hall when it begins ringing/playing in public, instead determining that playing music in public, when done without any commercial purpose, does not infringe copyright.   In so holding, the court ruled that cell phone users are not liable for royalty payments and that carriers are not secondarily liable.  Judge Cote reasoned that the exemption Section 110(4) applies because cell phones announce phone calls and are not sources of commercial public entertainment.

Ars Technica and Wired.com provide an overview of the case.  Both EFF and CDT applaud the decision as a major win for consumers and fair use. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 20 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Personal entry on MySpace admitted into evidence in Indiana murder case

By Kassity Liu – Edited by Stephanie Weiner

Clark v. State, No. 43C01-0705-FA-127 (Ind. Oct. 15, 2009).
Opinion

On October 15, the Supreme Court of Indiana affirmed a murder conviction and sentence, rejecting the defendant’s claims on appeal, including an argument that the trial court improperly admitted as character evidence an entry he made online on his MySpace page.  The defendant claimed the admission was in violation of the Indiana Rules of Evidence.

Internet Cases and the WSJ Law Blog provide an overview of the case. Evidence Prof Blog criticizes the court’s reasoning on the MySpace entry issue, noting that the evidence was likely admitted in violation of Indiana Rule of Evidence 404(a), not considered by the court. (more…)

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

Delaware District Court Distinguishes Posting and Publication for Purposes of the Copyright Act.

By Ian C. Wildgoose Brown – Edited by Stephanie Weiner

Moberg v. 33T LLC, Civil No. 08-625(NLH)(JS) (D. Del. Oct. 6, 2009).
Opinion

On October 6, the United States Court for the District of Delaware ruled in a case of first impression that a photograph posted to the Internet from a foreign server is not a “United States work” within the meaning of section 411 of the Copyright Act, and thus need not be registered in the U.S. in order to bring suit for infringement. 17 U.S.C § 411(a). Håkan Moberg, a Sweden-based photographer, brought a copyright infringement action against 33T, LLC, a Delaware corporation, and Cedric and Erwan Leygues, France-based website operators, for unauthorized use of photographs he had displayed on a German website in 2004.  The court denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss, allowing the photographer to go forward with his suit without having to first register his copyright in the United States.

Loeb & Loeb LLP provides an overview of the case. Ex©lusive Rights suggests that the outcome was largely inconsequential. But CyberLaw Currents sees the case as significant for international copyright law. (more…)

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

By Davis Doherty

Freedom of Speech Prevails in UK Thanks to Twitter

On October 12, the UK-based newspaper The Guardian reported it was unable to report on a question asked of a minister during Parliamentary proceedings due to “legal obstacles, which cannot be identified.” Political bloggers and tweeters quickly responded, reporting the question was related to the oil-trading company Trafigura, which is under investigation for allegedly dumping toxic waste in the Ivory Coast. Within hours, Trafigura rose to the top of the Twitter “trending topics.” The resulting publicity led the company to relax the terms of its court-ordered gag rule. On October 13, the Guardian reported the details of Trafigura’s “super-injunction,” a gag order so broad that it prevented the newspaper from revealing the injunction’s existence.

Copyright Treaty a Secret, Unless You’ve Got Connections

The next round of negotiations for the multinational Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (“ACTA”) is scheduled to run November 4 through November 6 in Korea, but the United States Trade Representative is being coy about its contents. Wired reports that although the language of the treaty is classified, forty-two individuals from the private sector are allowed access to its contents under a nondisclosure agreement. Their names, including both industry and public interest organization representatives, were revealed after Knowledge Ecology International requested the information under the Freedom of Information Act.

Winner of Patent Suit Against Microsoft Sues Internet Giants

Eolas, an internet technology company that won a patent-infringement suit against Microsoft in 2003, is now taking action against the rest of the high-tech world. Ars Technica and CNET reported on October 6 that Eolas, which holds two patents related to web browser plug-in technology, is suing twenty-three other companies for infringement in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. After withstanding Microsoft’s legal challenges to its patent in the 2003 case, Eolas is looking to repeat its success against the likes of Apple, Amazon, Google, Yahoo, and YouTube. However, a Supreme Court decision in the upcoming case Bilski v. Doll may reduce Eolas’ chances at court if software patents are weakened.

By Davis Doherty

Freedom of Speech Prevails in UK Thanks to Twitter

On October 12, the UK-based newspaper The Guardian reported it was unable to report on a question asked of a minister during Parliamentary proceedings due to “legal obstacles, which cannot be identified.” Political bloggers and tweeters quickly responded, determining the question was related to the oil-trading company Trafigura, under investigation for allegedly dumping toxic waste in the Ivory Coast. Within hours, Trafigura rose to the top of the Twitter “trending topics.” The resulting publicity led the company to relax the terms of its court-ordered gag rule. On October 13, the Guardian reported the details of Trafigura’s “super-injunction,” a gag order so broad that it prevented the newspaper from revealing the injunction’s existence.

Copyright Treaty a Secret, Unless You’ve Got Connections

The next round of negotiations for the multinational Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is scheduled to run November 4 through November 6 in Korea, but the United States Trade Representative is being coy about its contents. Wired reports that although the language of the treaty is classified, forty-two individuals from the private sector are allowed access to its contents under a nondisclosure agreement. Their names, including both industry and public interest organization representatives, were revealed after Knowledge Ecology International requested the information under the Freedom of Information Act.

Winner of Patent Suit Against Microsoft Sues Internet Giants

Eolas, an internet technology company that won a patent-infringement suit against Microsoft in 2003, is now taking action against the rest of the high-tech world. Ars Technica and CNET reported on October 6 that Eolas, which holds two patents related to web browser plug-in technology, is suing twenty-three other companies for infringement in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. After withstanding Microsoft’s legal challenges to its patent in the 2003 case, Eolas is looking to repeat its success against the likes of Apple, Amazon, Google, Yahoo, and YouTube. However, a Supreme Court decision in the upcoming case Bilski v. Doll may reduce Eolas’ chances at court if software patents are weakened.

Posted On Oct - 17 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Back to Drawing Board for Pa. State Legislature in Protecting Trademark Holders
By Brittany Blueitt – Edited by Stephanie Weiner

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Omar, No. J-162A-B-2008 (Pa. Oct. 5, 2009)
Majority Opinion (Baer, J.)
Concurring Opinion (Castille, J.)
Dissenting Opinion (Eakin, J.)
Dissenting Opinion (Greenspan, J.)

On October 5, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania affirmed two consolidated Centre County Court of Common Pleas decisions dismissing criminal trademark counterfeiting charges on the ground that Pennsylvania’s Trademark Counterfeiting Statute, 18 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 4119, is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad.  The court held that the statute is unconstitutional because it criminalizes a substantial amount of speech protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.  Commonwealth v. Omar, No. J-162A-B-2008, slip op. at 10 (Pa. Oct. 5, 2009).

IP Spotlight provides an overview of the case. CNBC features an extended analysis of the decision.  The Madisonian declares the decision overly formalistic. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 16 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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