A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Olga Slobodyanyuk

ICANN responds to terrorism victims by claiming domain names are not property

D.C. District Court rules that FOIA requests apply to officials’ personal email accounts

Class-action lawsuit brought against ExamSoft  in Illinois

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Federal Circuit Applies Alice to Deny Subject Matter Eligibility of Digital Imaging Patent

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang

In Digitech Image Technologies, the Federal Circuit embraced the opportunity to apply the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Alice to resolve a question of subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. §101. The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment on appeal, invalidating Digitech’s patent claims because they were directed to intangible information and abstract ideas.

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Unlocking Cell Phones Made Legal through Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Insue Kim

Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act allows consumers to unlock their cell phones when changing service providers, but the underlying issue of “circumvention” may have broader implications for other consumer devices and industries that increasingly rely on software.

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SDNY Magistrate Grants Government Search Warrant for Full Access to Suspect’s Gmail Account in Criminal Investigation

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Travis West

In an opinion that conflicts with decisions from the DC District Court and the District of Kansas, a SDNY magistrate granted the government’s search warrant for full access to a criminal investigation suspect’s Gmail account.

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Creating full-text searchable database of copyrighted works is “fair use”
By Yixuan Long- Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

In a unanimous opinion delivered by Judge Parker, the Second Circuit held that under the fair use doctrine universities and research libraries are allowed to create full‐text searchable databases of copyrighted works and provide such works in formats accessible to those with disabilities. The court also decided that the evidence was insufficient to decide whether the plaintiffs had standing to bring a claim regarding storage of digital copies for preservation purposes.

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By Tyler Lacey

Law Enforcement Using Cell Phone Data During Investigations, Privacy Laws Yet to Catch Up

On July 5, The New York Times posted an analysis of the use of cell phone forensics by law enforcement. According to the article, major cell phone service providers receive hundreds of requests each month from law enforcement agencies for data that can be used to track a user’s cell phone. Many of these requests are not backed by search warrants that require a showing of probable cause that a crime has been committed. The article reported that since September 12, 2001, federal prosecutors in New Jersey alone have used cell phone data without search warrants in 98 investigations, resulting in 83 prosecutions. The article also reports that civil liberties groups such as the ACLU are concerned about the loss of privacy caused by modern cell phone technology in combination with the failure of federal privacy law to properly catch up and regulate cell phone tracking.

RIAA Seeks Order Requiring Harvard Professor to Remove “Unauthorized and Illegal” Recordings From Website

On July 6, Wired.com reported that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is seeking a court order requiring Harvard Law School Professor Charles Nesson to remove recordings of depositions and telephone conversations regarding an ongoing music piracy lawsuit from his blog. The RIAA argues that the recordings are “unauthorized and illegal,” but Professor Nesson insists that the privacy laws that allegedly prevent him from posting the recordings are “outrageously unconstitutional.” Professor Nesson had previously failed to obtain permission to broadcast a live webcast of the trial.

Network Management Company Tells Canadian Agency Net Neutrality Doesn’t Exist; Regulations Inevitable

On July 6, the CBC reported that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission held hearings during which representatives from industry and consumer advocacy groups offered their views on the proper way to regulate how internet service providers (ISPs) can manage network traffic. Sandvine, a company that sells traffic management technology to ISPs, said that network congestion disproportionately affects certain types of internet services, and that traffic management could potentially alleviate the inequality. Sandvine argued that net neutrality does not exist because of these inequalities in network traffic, and that network traffic should be managed by ISPs to prioritize certain types of packets. The Public Interest Advocacy Centre stated that packet inspection of the type made possible by Sandvine raises privacy concerns because it allows ISPs to identify the type of applications used by their customers in addition to other personal information. The group warned “there will be abuse” if such prioritization is allowed.

Posted On Jul - 10 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

RIAA wins overwhelming copyright and sanctions victory against Usenet.com

By Sharona Hakimi – Edited by Anthony Kammer
Arista Records LLC v. Usenet.com, Inc., June 30, 2009, No. 07 Civ. 8822
Opinion

On June 30, 2009, a New York District Court granted summary judgment for the Recording Artist Association of America (RIAA) in its case against Usenet.com.  Judge Harold Baer of the Southern District of New York held the website liable for direct, contributory, and vicarious copyright infringement.  Additionally, Judge Baer issued discovery sanctions against Usenet.com for engaging in a wide array of litigation misconduct that included wiping hard drives, sending witnesses to Europe to avoid depositions, and stonewalling legal questionnaires.  A magistrate judge will soon determine the appropriate remedies.

Ars Technica summarizes the litigation, providing background to the case and the history of the website.  Greg Sandoval of cnet news offers a short recap of the case.  Billboard.biz writer Ben Sheffner outlines the potential precedential impact of the decision.  The RIAA released a statement regarding the victory on its Music Notes Blog.

(more…)

Posted On Jul - 9 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Brian Kozlowski

Lori Drew “Cyberbullying” Conviction Thrown Out

The Los Angeles Times reports that on July 2nd, a federal judge dismissed the case against “cyberbully” Lori Drew, saying that the clear terms of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) preclude a guilty verdict. The Lori Drew case received widespread media attention eight months ago when the 50 year-old mother was found guilty of “unauthorized computer access” under the CFFA for aiding her daughter in creating a fake MySpace account that led to another girl’s suicide. The guilty verdict was ardently criticized for criminalizing violations of websites’ terms of service, which few users actually read when creating accounts, essentially allowing websites to make their own law.

China’s Mandatory Client-Side Censoring Program Delayed

Only a day before the previously announced July 1st deadline, the Chinese government announced, through official news agency Xinhua, a delay in the requirement that PC makers pre-install a web-filtering program called “Green Dam Youth Escort.” The Wall Street Journal reports that the project is not abandoned, but merely delayed. Green Dam was first released several months ago as a pornography-filtering program and didn’t evolve into a requirement until the beginning of June, much to the chagrin of PC manufacturers. After the University of Michigan discovered serious security holes, which would open computers to remote code execution, PC manufacturers began to worry about liability issues and possibly acquiring reputations for supporting censorship. So far, only Sony has shipped computers with the software pre-installed in advance of the July 1st deadline.

Supreme Court Allows Remote Storage DVR

Ars Technica and Wired both report that the Supreme Court declined to hear a final appeal in the Cablevision DVR case on the final day of its term. The Second Circuit had allowed Cablevision to continue offering its customers a recording system that is different from traditional recording only in that it stores the customers’ recordings of copyrighted content remotely on Cablevision’s servers. Because the consumer maintains control over the recordings, rather than accessing an on-demand library provided by Cablevision, the court ruled that the recordings were still fair use. Television networks called the case the most important since the 1984 ruling that consumer VHS recording of copyrighted movies falls under fair use. The Supreme Court’s silence aligns with the filing by the Obama administration suggesting that this case was not the appropriate forum to “clarify” the legal issues of fair use.

Another Nesson-RIAA Continue to Clash over File-Sharing

As reported by Ars Technica, Harvard Law professor Charlie Nesson is once more facing off against the RIAA’s MediaSentry in the illegal file-sharing suit against Joel Tenenbaum. Tenenbaum, like Jammie Thomas-Rasset before him, is accused of sharing songs illegally on KaZaa. Nesson and his associates aim to try the same legal tactic that has failed them in the past, namely attempting to discredit the evidence brought by the RIAA as being gathered illegally. The high-profile cases, including controversial high damage awards and internal defense disputes, have been part of a larger attempt to establish solid legal precedent, or prompt a legislative solution, for future file-sharing disputes.

Posted On Jul - 4 - 2009 1 Comment READ FULL POST

Tenth Circuit Affirms Liability for Seller of Private Telephone Records

By Tyler Lacey – Edited by Anthony Kammer
Federal Trade Commission v. Accusearch Inc., June 29, 2009, No. 08-8003
Slip Opinion

On June 29, 2009, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the Wyoming District Court, holding that Accursearch’s sale of private telephone records on its Abika.com website constituted an unfair practice in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA) and granted summary judgment for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Dan Gooden of The Register provides an overview of the opinion. Eric Goldman criticizes the court’s opinion on his Technology & Marketing Law blog. Although Goldman doubts that “the literal holding of this case is all that troubling to most folks” he believes that the court “muddles the discussion” of each of the CDA immunity prongs.  In particular, Goldman believes that the court erred when it decided that “develop” was essentially synonymous with “publish” for the purposes of analyzing CDA immunity. Goldman describes the opinion as a “major carveback of [the CDA]‘s coverage” and predicts problems for online retailers that republish third-party content. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 4 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Ninth Circuit Holds Anti-Spyware Software Company is Protected by Communications Decency Act Sec. 230 Immunity

By Dmitriy Tishyevich-Edited by Anthony Kammer
Zango, Inc. v. Kaspersky Lab, Inc., June 25, 2009, No. 07-35800.
Slip Opinion

On June 25, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for Kaspersky Lab, which distributes software that filters and blocks malicious programs.  The Ninth Circuit held that Kaspersky qualified for civil liability immunity under the Communications Decency Act Sec. 230(c)(2)(B) and rejected Zango’s argument that Sec. 230 immunity was limited only to Internet content providers.

The E-Commerce and Tech Law Blog summarizes the opinion. Eric Goldman provides another summary, agreeing with the outcome, but pointing out some questions the decision left open.
(more…)

Posted On Jul - 1 - 2009 1 Comment READ FULL POST
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Flash Digest: News i

By Olga Slobodyanyuk ICANN responds to terrorism victims by claiming domain ...

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Federal Circuit Appl

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang Digitech Image Technologies, ...

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Unlocking Cell Phone

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Insue Kim On July 25, ...

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By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Travis West In the Matter ...

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