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DOJ Indicts Nine for Zeus Malware Theft From Online Bank Accounts
By Emma Winer – Edited by Sheri Pan

United States v. Penchukov

Last week, the Department of Justice released a previously sealed indictment against alleged conspirators in an international scheme that stole millions of dollars from online bank accounts. The conspirators allegedly infected thousands of computers with “Zeus” malware, which captured passwords, bank account numbers, and other online banking information. Two of the defendants were arraigned in Nebraska after being extradited from the United Kingdom.

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European Court of Justice Invalidates Data Retention Directive
By Paul Klein – Edited by Alex Shank

In a preliminary ruling requested by courts in Ireland and Austria, the European Court of Justice found that Directive 2006/24/EC was invalid. The Grand Chamber recognized the legitimacy of retaining telecommunications data as a means to combat serious crime and terrorism, but it ultimately held that the far-reaching scope of the Directive disproportionately affected individual privacy under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

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Google to Supreme Court: Snagging Data from Unsecured Wi-Fi is Perfectly Legal
By Michael Shammas – Edited by Mary Schnoor

Google has filed a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to label its Street View cars’ collection of unencrypted Wi-Fi traffic legal, appealing the Ninth Circuit’s decision that Google may have violated the federal Wiretap Act. Google believes unencrypted Wi-Fi traffic should be classed as “radio communications” accessible to the public.

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Mozilla Announces Resignation of Recently Appointed CEO Brendan Eich Following Controversy over Gay Marriage Opposition
By Sheri Pan – Edited by Corey Omer

On April 3, Mozilla Corporation (“Mozilla”), a subsidiary of the non-profit Mozilla Foundation most widely known for producing the Firefox browser, announced that its CEO of less than two weeks, Brendan Eich, has resigned, after pressure from Mozilla employees, bloggers, and developers who opposed his appointment in light of a $1000 donation that he made in 2008 in support of Proposition 8, a ballot measure that sought to ban gay marriage in California.

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Flash Digest: News In Brief
By Emma Winer

Third Circuit Vacates Hacker Conviction for Improper Venue

French Unions and Employers Agree to Curb After-Hours Work Email

Limited Sale of Google Glass Slated For April 15

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District Court Judge Rules Evidence of Suicide Admissible in Lori Drew MySpace Case
By Leocadie Welling – Edited by Nicola Carah
United States v. Drew, 08-CR-582
 
On November 14, 2008, Judge George Wu of the District Court for the Central District of California indicated at hearing that he would admit evidence of 13-year-old Megan Meier’s suicide at the upcoming trial of Lori Drew.  Judge Wu further indicated that although he was admitting the evidence, he would issue a jury instruction specifying that the case against Drew is not about Meier’s suicide and that Drew is not charged with causing the suicide.

Drew is charged with conspiracy and with three counts of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”), 18 U.S.C. § 1030, after creating a fake MySpace account, purporting to be a teenaged boy.  Drew, along with others, contacted Meier through MySpace, befriending the girl and eventually entering into a “relationship” online. Drew subsequently broke the relationship off and Meier committed suicide shortly thereafter.  On Monday, November 10, Judge Wu indicated in pretrial conference that he was inclined to exclude evidence of Meier’s suicide on the grounds of lack of relevance and potentially prejudicial effects on the jury.  On Friday November 14, after hearing counsels’ arguments, Judge Wu ruled that the evidence was admissible.  No order has yet been issued explaining Judge Wu’s reasoning.

The Citizen Media Law Project hosts court documents. For background on the case, The New York Times featured a summary of the events leading up to Meier’s death in November 2007 and the WSJ Law Blog has posted several items on the subsequent case.

The AP covers Judge Wu’s decision to admit evidence of Meier’s suicide, reporting that he said he was convinced many jurors would already be aware of the suicide from news reports or a recent Law & Order episode that contained similar facts.   

GW Law professor Orin Kerr, wrote in May in favor of granting Drew’s motion to dismiss the case.  He argues that the that the CFAA’s criminal prohibition against accessing a computer “without authorization” should not be interpreted as extending to instances of individual violations of a website’s Terms of Service. Professor Kerr has since joined Drew’s defense team. 

Concurring Opinions wrote a piece in May largely agreeing with Kerr’s conclusion but slightly diverging in its reasoning, and wrote recently arguing that the case should not be going to trial.  Simple Justice also covers the recent ruling to admit the evidence.  

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Posted On Nov - 20 - 2008 Comments Off READ FULL POST

The Fed, Treasury Department Release Joint Final Rule Implementing UIGEA
By Linda Tieh – Edited by Dmitriy Tishyevich

Federal Reserve Board
Department of the Treasury 
Federal Register Notice

On November 12, 2008, the Department of Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board, in consultation with the Department of Justice, jointly published final rule 12 C.F.R. Part 233, implementing the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (“UIGEA”) of 2006.   The UIGEA prohibits gambling businesses from knowingly accepting payments in connection with unlawful Internet gambling, including payments made through credit cards, electronic transfers, and checks.  The final rule requires U.S. financial firms participating in certain payment systems to establish and implement written due diligence policies and procedures that are reasonably designed to prevent transactions in connection with unlawful Internet gambling.  The Treasury Department has said that “unlawful Internet gambling” generally covers making a bet that involves use of the Internet and is unlawful under applicable federal or state laws in the jurisdiction where the bet is initiated, received, or otherwise made.  The rule is effective as of January 19, 2009, and compliance by companies is required by December 1, 2009.

The Department of the Treasury has issued a press report on the final rule. 

Reuters suggests that Republican lawmakers, who controlled Congress in 2006, passed the UIGEA in hopes of having a rule issued before Bush leaves office in January, and notes that its passage cost Europe’s online gambling companies billions in lost market value as they had to withdraw from providing service to the U.S., one of their most lucrative markets. The Associated Press reports that the final regulation drew criticism from Democrats who believe financial services companies will be burdened. 

Poker News Daily likewise criticizes the regulations as “midnight rule-making” by the Bush Administration, arguing that the final rule leaves unclear which gaming activities are legal and which are not. The Poker Players Allinace (PPA), a poker grassroots advocacy group, agrees the rule failed to clarify the differences between legal and illegal gambling activities. 

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Posted On Nov - 18 - 2008 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Supreme Court Rules for Navy in Use of Sonar in Training Exercises
By Jared Frisch – Edited by Dmitriy Tishyevich
Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
Supreme Court of the United States, November 12, 2008, No. 07-1239
Slip Opinion

The Supreme Court reversed a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and vacated in part a preliminary injunction that had restricted sonar training operations by the US Navy. The training operations were alleged to damage marine life in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (“NEPA”). The Court applied an equitable balancing test, determining that the likelihood of irreparable injury to the environment was outweighed by the public interest and the Navy’s interest in “effective, realistic training of its sailors.”

Mainstream reporting on the Supreme Court decision can be found at New York Times and the Associated Press.  Further commentary following the case is available at Slashdot and ScotusBlog.

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Posted On Nov - 17 - 2008 2 Comments READ FULL POST

Harry Potter Lexicon Defendant Files Notice of Appeal
Notice of Appeal (hosted by Justia)

On November 7, 2008, defendant RDR Books filed a notice of appeal to the Second Circuit from the September 9, 2008 decision of the S.D.N.Y., which permanently enjoined its publication of the Harry Potter Lexicon book and awarded plaintiffs Warner Brothers and J.K. Rowling statutory damages of $6,750.

Previously: Harry Potter Lexicon Found to Infringe J.K. Rowling’s Copyright

Posted On Nov - 11 - 2008 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Court Declares “Grand Theft” Crime Free
By Briahna Gray – Edited by Miriam Weiler

E.S.S. Entertainment 2000, Inc., v. Rock Star Videos, Inc., November 5 2008, No. 06-56237
Slip Opinion

On November 5, 2008 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Central California District Court summary judgment ruling to dismiss the case brought by the operators of a Los Angeles strip club (“E.S.S.”) against Rock Star Videos (“Rockstar”), the manufacturer of the Grand Theft Auto video games, for trademark infringement and unfair competition under the Lanham Act, California Business and Professions Code § 14320 and § 17200 and California common law.

E.E.S. had argued that Rockstar’s imitation of the strip club’s logo within the virtual world of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas had no artistic relevance and would mislead consumers, confusing them as to whether EES had endorsed or associated itself with the digital rendition. In resolving this claim, the court applied a balancing test to weigh Trademark interests against First Amendment rights, stating that the Lanham Act applies to artistic works “only where the public interest in avoiding consumer confusion outweighs the public interest in free expression” Rogers v. Grimaldi, 875 F.2d 994, 999 (2d Cir. 1989) (emphasis in the original).

The ruling affirming summary judgment in favor of the popular game has drawn attention from a number of commentators. The authors at Techdirt.com applaud the decision. Coverage is also offered by Gamastura.com, Techdirt.com and Filewrapper.com summarize the case. RealDealDocs.com lists other legal challenges Grand Theft Auto has faced in the past six years.

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Posted On Nov - 10 - 2008 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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DOJ Indicts Nine for

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European Court of Ju

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Google to Supreme Co

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By Emma Winer Third Circuit Vacates Hacker Conviction for Improper Venue The ...