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

By Daniel Etcovitch – Edited by Emily Chan

Florida Judge Rules Bitcoin Is Not Equivalent to Money

Illinois Governor Signs Bill Restricting Use of Stingrays

DMCA DRM Circumvention Provision’s Constitutionality Being Challenged

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Yuan Cao – Edited by Frederick Ding

Mere Commercial Benefit Not Enough to Trigger The On-Sale Bar

Technology-Based Software Solution Can Be Patentable 

Patent Disputes about Siri, iTunes, Notification Push, and Location

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Sixth Circuit Finds Privacy Interest in Mugshots under FOIA

By Filippo Raso – Edited by Ariane Moss

A split en banc Sixth Circuit reversed the lower courts’ ruling, holding individuals have a privacy interest in their booking photos for the purposes of Exemption 7(C) of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552. In so doing, the Court overruled Circuit precedent established two decades ago. The case was remanded with instructions to balance the public interests against the individual’s privacy interest.

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The EFF Challenges the DMCA Anti-Circumvention Provision: A First Amendment Fight

By Priyanka Nawathe – Edited by Kayla Haran

On July 21, 2016, the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the United States government to overturn DMCA Section 1201, commonly referred to as the anti-circumvention provision. The EFF argues that this provision, designed to prevent circumvention of “technological protection measures,” actually chills research and free speech, and thus is a violation of the First Amendment.

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By Jaehwan Park – Edited by Kayla Haran

Bipartisan Lawmakers Introduce Bill Encouraging U.S. Government Agencies to Use the Cloud as a Secure Alternative to Legacy Systems

Snapchat Accused of Violating Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Announces New Policy Group to Promote Global Digital Trade

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Supreme Court Declares Animal Cruelty Statute Violates First Amendment
By Debbie Rosenbaum – Edited by Chinh Vo

United States v. Stevens, No. 08–769 (U.S., April 20, 2010)
Slip Opinion

The Supreme Court affirmed the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which had held that 18 U.S.C. § 48, a federal statute criminalizing the commercial production, sale, or possession of depictions of cruelty to animals, was an unconstitutional abridgment of the First Amendment right to freedom of speech and did not serve a compelling governmental interest.

In an 8-1 ruling, the Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a Virginia man who sold dog-fighting videos, holding that the First Amendment does not allow the government to criminalize whole categories of speech and expression that are deemed undesirable. The Court said that 18 U.S.C. § 48 was too broad because while some depictions of animal cruelty were appropriately exempted from the statute, other speech that should be protected, such as “most hunting videos” and photos of out-of-season hunting, was not.

Briefs and relevant court documents are available at the First Amendment Center. NPR, the Wall Street Journal, and the LA Times provide overviews of the case. The Volokh Conspiracy and the Constitutional Law Prof Law Blog analyze the decision. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 23 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Sixth Circuit Upholds Ohio Anti-Pornography Statute
By Avis Bohlen – Edited by Dmitriy Tishyevich

American Bookseller’s Foundation for Free Expression v. Strickland, Nos. 07-4375/4376 (6th Cir., April 15, 2010)
Opinion

On April 15, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed an Ohio district court’s decision to enjoin the enforcement of an anti-pornography child protection statute, Ohio Revised Code § 2907.31(D)(1), which criminalizes displaying or disseminating harmful materials to juveniles.  The court held that as narrowly construed by the Supreme Court of Ohio, the statute does not violate either the First Amendment or the Commerce Clause of the Constitution.

The Sixth Circuit had previously certified the question as to the scope of the statute to the Ohio Supreme Court.  The Ohio Supreme Court issued its response on January 27, holding that the statute only applies to personally directed electronic communications, such as instant messages, private chat rooms, and person-to-person emails, and not to generally accessible communications on the Internet, like websites or public chat rooms.  In upholding the statute, the Sixth Circuit concluded that the “Internet provisions,” criminalizing the electronic transmission of harmful material to juveniles if the sender “knows or has reason to believe” the recipients to be juveniles, are not unconstitutionally overbroad.  Further, though the court held that the statute does not trigger strict scrutiny because it does not affect constitutionally protected speech among adults, it noted in dicta that it would survive even strict scrutiny because it was narrowly tailored to promote a compelling government interest.  The court also held that the statute does not violate the Commerce Clause.

Cyberlaw Cases provides an overview and history of the case through the Ohio Supreme Court’s January decision. The AP offers an overview of the Sixth Circuit’s decision.  Both the Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray and groups affiliated with the coalition of publishers and Web site operators that challenged the constitutionality of the statute claimed some degree of victory after the ruling. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 21 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Affirms Exclusion and Cease-and-Desist Orders against GPS Chipmaker
By Gary Pong – Edited by Dmitriy Tishyevich

SiRF Tech., Inc. v. ITC, Appeal 2009-1262 (Fed. Cir., Apr. 12, 2010).
Slip Opinion

The Federal Circuit affirmed a decision by the International Trade Commission (“ITC”), which found that SiRF Technology, Inc. (“SiRF”) violated 19 U.S.C. § 1337 by unlawfully importing and selling Global Positioning System (“GPS”) devices that infringed upon patents owned by Global Locate, Inc. and Broadcom Corp. (collectively, “Global Locate”).

The Federal Circuit held that: (1) Global Locate had standing to sue for infringement, even though one of the patents in question had been automatically assigned to the inventors’ previous employer under an employment agreement; (2) SiRF’s GPS chips had directly infringed the patents in question; and (3) the asserted method claims were directed to patentable subject matter under the In re Bilski “machine-or-transformation” test because it was tied to a particular machine – the GPS receiver.

The ITC Law Blog provides an overview of the case and its history. Patently-O features an analysis of the decision and the Patent Prospector has excerpted the key parts of this decision.  (more…)

Posted On Apr - 19 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Tyler Lacey

Bank Programmer Pleads Guilty to ATM Hacking

On April 13, 2010, Wired reported that Bank of America employee Rodney Reed Cavelry pleaded guilty to one count of unauthorized computer access, after installing software on more than 100 ATMs that allowed him to steal more than $304,000 over a seven-month period last year. Bank of America identified Caverly’s theft internally, and was able to recover at least $167,000 in cooperation with the United States Secret Service. Bank of America had employed Cavelry since 2007 to write “application software and troubleshooting programs.” Cavelry will face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 when he is sentenced this summer.

Canadian Regulator Warns Against Foreign Ownership of Telecommunications Companies

On April 13, 2010, The Toronto Star reported that the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) warned against allowing majority foreign ownership of Canadian telecommunications companies. Konrad von Finckenstein, CRTC’s chairman, argued that a proposed law allowing additional foreign investment in telecommunications companies would create a “branch plant communications industry” in Canada. Complicating the matter is the fact that Canada’s leading telecommunications companies are also broadcasting companies, which are subjected to additional cultural regulations on minimum levels of Canadian content. von Finckenstein believes that “there is no way to separate telecoms from broadcasters,” and that the best strategy is to “to create uniform rules that would apply to both industries, and to keep control firmly in Canadian hands.”

Italian Judge Explains Rationale for Guilty Verdicts in Illegal Video Case

On April 13 CNET reported on Italian Judge Oscar Magi’s 111 page explanation for the guilty verdict that he entered against three Google employees on February 24. Judge Magi believed that “commercial exploitation” was Google’s motive for allowing a video, depicting an autistic teenager being harassed and attacked, to remain online for two months. In response, Google argued that the “conviction attacks the very principles of freedom on which the Internet is built” and indicated that it would appeal the verdicts.

Posted On Apr - 17 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Jyoti Uppuluri

UK Passes Controversial Digital Economy Bill

The Guardian and the Electronic Frontier Foundation reported that on April 8, the U.K. Parliament passed the controversial Digital Economy Bill in a late-night “wash-up” session after just two hours of debate. Two provisions of the bill in particular raised concerns among the citizenry and telecommunications companies in the U.K. The Guardian reports that the bill contains a broad-ranging clause allowing the Secretary of State for Business to block a site that “has been, is being or is likely to be used for or in connection with an activity that infringes copyright.” EFF notes that the bill also includes a provision allowing for the disconnection of the “Internet connection of any household in the U.K. with an IP address alleged to have engaged in copyright infringement.”

30-Year Computer Ban for Sex Offender Overturned by DC Court of Appeals

Wired reported that on April 2, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia vacated a 30-year computer ban imposed on a sex-offender as a condition of his supervised release. The Court stated that the immutable ban on computer use was “substantively unreasonable” and “aggressively interferes with the goal of rehabilitation,” including obtaining employment. Citizen Media Law Project argues that while the overturning of the ban was a good outcome, the reasoning of the court is troublesome due to its implication that a computer ban providing for a shorter duration and probation officer approved waivers would be acceptable.

Spy Network Targeting Indian Government Uncovered

Ars Technica reported that the researchers who previously uncovered GhostNet, a spy network targeting Tibetan exiles, have recently uncovered a separate network targeting the Indian government, among other entities. This network has been traced back to a hacking community in Chengdu, China. The majority of machines attacked by the network are associated with India, including “Indian embassies and consulates,” as well as commercial groups like the Times of India and the New Delhi rail station. The spy network obtained “everything from information on missile systems being developed by India to a list of visas issued by Indian embassies.”

Posted On Apr - 12 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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