A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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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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Supreme Court Weighs Patent Eligibility of Software
By Mary Schnoor — Edited by Elise Young

The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l, a case with the potential to determine whether, or when, computer-implemented inventions (i.e., software) are patent-eligible subject matter. Many commentators hope the Court will use this case as an opportunity to clarify what makes an invention an “abstract idea” that is ineligible for patenting.

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Expelled Lawsuit Dropped

Lennon v. Premise Media Corp. (S.D.N.Y.)

The suit filed by Yoko Ono and the children of John Lennon against the producers of Expelled, a motion picture that used a clip of the song “Imagine” without permission, was withdrawn and dismissed last month.  However, Anthony Falzone, Executive Director of Stanford’s Fair Use Project and counsel for defendants, notes:

[T]he right result came far too late. The mere pendency of these cases caused the film’s DVD distributor to shy away from releasing the full film — the version that includes the Imagine segment. So the film goes out on DVD on October 21 in censored form, illustrating the damage that even an unproved and unsupported infringement claim can do.

Previously: District Court Denies Yoko Ono Lennon’s Motion for Injunctive Relief

Posted On Oct - 7 - 2008 Comments Off READ FULL POST

District Court Vacates Verdict and Damages in File-Sharing Copyright Infringement Case, Grants New Trial
By Dmitriy Tishyevich - Edited by Bradley Hamburger

Capitol Records Inc. v. Thomas
D. Minn., September 24, 2008, No. 06‐1497
Order (provided by EFF)

On September 24, 2008, Chief Judge Michael Davis of the United States. District Court, District of Minnesota, issued an order in Capitol Records Inc. v. Thomas (formerly Virgin Records America, Inc. v. Thomas) vacating a jury’s October 2007 copyright infringement verdict and award of $222,000 in damages to members of the Recording Industry Association of America (“RIAA”) and granting the defendant, Jammie Thomas, a new trial. The vacated award was the first jury trial victory for the RIAA in a federal copyright infringement case against an individual since it began litigation against alleged peer-to-peer users in 2003.

In the original trial, plaintiff recording companies alleged that defendant Jammie Thomas had infringed twenty-four of their copyrighted sound recordings by downloading and making them available via the Kazaa peer-to-peer file sharing network. Judge Davis instructed the jury that the “act of making copyrighted sound recordings available for electronic distribution on a peertopeer network, without license from the copyright owners, violates the copyright owners’ exclusive right of distribution, regardless of whether actual distribution has been shown.” The jury found that Thomas had willfully infringed on all twenty-four of the plaintiff’s sound recordings, and awarded statutory damages of $9,520 per violation ($220,000 in total damages). On May 15, 2008, however, Judge Davis issued an order stating that he was contemplating granting a new trial due to the possibility that the jury instruction at issue constituted a manifest error of law. Both parties briefed the issue, and Judge Davis allowed submission of five amicus briefs.

Eric Bangeman at ArsTechnica provides a summary of the order.

Corryne McSherry of the Electronic Frontier Foundation applauds Judge Davis’ call to lower the Copyright Act’s statutory damages.

David Kravets of the Wired “Threat Level” blog notes that the decision “nullified an almost foolproof method for the RIAA,” but suggests that it simultaneously “replaced it with another” by holding that the music files downloaded by RIAA investigators can form the basis for an infringement claim.

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Posted On Oct - 1 - 2008 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Rejects Point of Novelty Test for Design Patent Infringement
By Anna Lamut — Edited by Stephanie Weiner

Egyptian Goddess v. Swisa
CAFC, September 22, 2008,
Slip Opinion

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the decision of the District Court for the Northern District of Texas, which had granted summary judgment in favor of Swisa, Inc, finding that no jury could reasonably find Swisa’s nail-buffer design infringed Egyptian Goddess’s design patent.

A panel of the Federal Circuit had upheld the District Court’s decision on August 29, 2007, applying the “point of novelty” test for design patent infringement. On November 26, the Federal Circuit vacated the panel’s decision, deciding to hear the appeal en banc to determine the proper standard for assessing claims of design patent infringement.

The point of novelty test states that “the accused device must appropriate the novelty in the patented device which distinguishes it from the prior art.” Sears, Roebuck & Co. v. Talge, 140 F.2d 395, 396 (8th Cir.1944). This test requires that in order to find infringement, a court must attribute the similarity of two items to the novelty which distinguishes the patented device from the prior art. By contrast, the “ordinary observer” test, established in 1871 in Gorham Co. v. White looks for substantial similarity between the two designs, as taken from the viewpoint of an ordinary observer familiar with the prior art. The Federal Circuit held that the point of novelty test should no longer be used to assess claims of design patent infringement, favoring the ordinary observer test instead. (more…)

Posted On Sep - 27 - 2008 1 Comment READ FULL POST

Virginia State Supreme Court Holds Anti-Spam Statute Unconstitutionally Overbroad
By Jay Gill — Edited by Nicola Carah

Jaynes v. Commonwealth of Virginia
Supreme Court of Virginia, September 12, 2008, No. 062388
Slip Opinion

The Supreme Court of Virginia overturned the conviction of prolific spammer Jeremy Jaynes, unanimously reversing not only the Virginia state court of appeals, but its own earlier holding in the case. In doing so, the court held that the Virginia anti-spam statute under which Jaynes was convicted was unconstitutionally overbroad, as it did not distinguish between commercial and non-commercial instances of anonymous, unsolicited bulk e-mail. The court ruled that non-commercial anonymous bulk e-mail falls squarely within First Amendment protection and that no reasonable construction of the Virginia statute could remedy the constitutional defect.

In a press release praising the decision, the ACLU, which filed an amicus brief in support of Jaynes, wrote, “[s]peech on the Internet deserves no less First Amendment protection than in any other medium.” Jon Praed of the Internet Law Group took issue with the court’s characterization of the situation, telling the Washington Post: “I guess a burglar can break into your home as long as they are reciting the Gettysburg Address.” John Levine, president of the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail, and an expert for the prosecution in Jayne’s jury trial, argues that IP forgery is a red herring and points out that there are a variety of alternatives to send anonymous emails. Nonetheless, he commented, “I don’t see it as a fatal setback for anti-spam law.” According to Levine, Virginia’s statute was unique in prohibiting noncommercial spam, and other statutes, including the federal CAN-SPAM act (which took effect after Jaynes’s arrest), do not contain the flaw that led to the result in this case.
(more…)

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

Harry Potter Lexicon Found to Infringe J.K. Rowling’s Copyright
By Miriam Weiler – Edited by Evie Breithaupt

Warner Bros. Entertainment v. RDR Books
S.D.N.Y, September 8th 2008, No. 07 Civ. 09667 
Slip Opinion (hosted by Justia.com)  

This week, Judge Robert P.  Patterson of Southern District of New York, granted a permanent injunction against Defendant RDR Books (“RDR”) and awarded statutory damages to Plaintiffs Warner Brothers Entertainment, Inc.  and J.K.  Rowling (“Warner Bros.” and “J.K.  Rowling”) for the infringement of Rowling’s Harry Potter books.  In this long awaited decision, the court ruled that RDR’s plan to publish “The Lexicon,” an A-to-Z reference guide to Harry Potter facts written by Steven Vander Ark, infringed upon Rowling’s famous series and two of her other works, Quidditch Through the Ages (2001) and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2001). 

There was no dispute that J.K. Rowling owned the copyright to the Harry Potter series, the film rights of which had been licensed to Warner Bros., and that Steven Vander Ark had originally copied from the books to create an online reference source called “The Harry Potter Lexicon.” The court applied the Ringgold test for substantial similarity, finding that Vander Ark copied a quantity and quality of material sufficient for infringement when he developed the website into a book to be published by RDR. 

Briefs and relevant court documents are available here.

The Wall Street Jounal provides an overview of the case, and the Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law features a thorough analysis of the decision.

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Posted On Sep - 15 - 2008 1 Comment READ FULL POST
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European Court of Ju

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Google to Supreme Co

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Mozilla Announces Re

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Flash Digest: News I

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Supreme Court Weighs

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