A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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By Ellora Israni – Edited by Filippo Raso

IMDb is challenging the constitutionality of Assembly Bill 1687 (“AB 1687”), a California law requiring IMDb to remove ages from its website upon request from paid subscribers, claiming that the law violates the First Amendment’s free speech protections.

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Facebook Blocks British Insurance Company from Basing Premiums on Posts and Likes

By Javier Careaga– Edited by Mila Owen

Admiral Insurance has created an initiative called firstcarquote, which analyzes Facebook activity of first-time car owners. The firstcarquote algorithm determines risk based on personality traits and habits that are linked to safe driving. Firstcarquote was recalled two hours before its official launch and then was launched with reduced functionality after Facebook denied authorization, stating that the initiative breaches Facebook’s platform policy.

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Airbnb challenges New York law regulating short-term rentals

By Daisy Joo – Edited by Nehaa Chaudhari

Airbnb filed a complaint in the Federal District Court of the Southern District of New York seeking to “enjoin and declare unlawful the enforcement against Airbnb” of the recent law that prohibits  the advertising of short-term rentals on Airbnb and other similar websites.  Airbnb argued that the new law violated its rights to free speech and due process, and that it was inconsistent with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects online intermediaries that host or republish speech from a range of liabilities.

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Medtronic v. Bosch post-Cuozzo: PTAB continues to have the final say on inter partes review

By Nehaa Chaudhari – Edited by Grace Truong

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“the Federal Circuit”) reaffirmed its earlier order, dismissing Medtronic’s appeal against a decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”). The PTAB had dismissed Medtronic’s petition for inter partes review of Bosch’s patents, since Medtronic had failed to disclose all real parties in interest, as required by 35 U.S.C. §312(a)(2).

 

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California DMV Discuss Rules on Autonomous Vehicles

DOJ Release Guidelines on CFAA Prosecutions

Illinois Supreme Court Rule in Favor of State Provisions Requiring Disclosure of Online Identities of Sex Offenders

Research Shows Concerns for Crucial Infrastructure Information Leaks

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It’s once again that time of year: The Digest will be taking a short break from our regular coverage over the coming weeks as our Staff Writers take their spring examinations.

While we take our hiatus from regular coverage, we have the pleasure of re-introducing our Comments feature. Comments are longer opinion pieces on especially significant issues. These pieces are written entirely by members of our staff, on topics they believe warrant closer examination and study. From now until May 16th, we will publish one or two Comments every week. We have some especially interesting pieces this May and we hope you enjoy them!

We’ll be back the week of May 16th with our usual coverage.

We sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed our work this year!

- The Digest Staff

Posted On May - 4 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Court Orders District Court to Reconsider Preliminary Injunction on “Catcher in the Rye” Sequel
By Katy Yang – Edited by Kassity Liu

Salinger v. Colting, No. 09-2878-cv (2d Cir. April 30, 2010)
Slip Opinion

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated and remanded the judgment of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, which had granted Salinger’s motion for a preliminary injunction for copyright infringement and unfair competition.

The Second Circuit unanimously held that the Circuit standard for granting preliminary injunctions in copyright cases, applied by the District Court, was inconsistent with the four-factor test “historically employed by courts of equity,” set out in eBay, Inc. v. MercExchange, L.L.C., 547 U.S. 388, 390 (2006), which now replaces the original standard. Although eBay was about a permanent injunction for patent infringement, the Second Circuit also held that it “applies with equal force (a) to preliminary injunctions (b) that are issued for alleged copyright infringement.” In so holding, the court explained that eBay strongly suggests that its scope presumptively extends to injunctions in any context. The court also affirmed the district court’s conclusion that Salinger is likely to prevail on the merits due to substantial similarity between the two works and the likely failure of Colting’s fair use defense. Finally, because the Circuit’s original standard for granting preliminary injunctions in copyright cases has been changed to the eBay standard, the court found it unnecessary to reach the constitutional issue of whether the Circuit’s original standard is an unconstitutional prior restraint on speech.

Bloomberg Businessweek provides an overview of the case and features a thorough analysis of the decision. The Am Law Daily and the New York Times summarize some of the legal issues in the decision. Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society submitted an amicus brief arguing that courts should consider more factors before granting injunctions, which can be found here. (more…)

Posted On May - 2 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Chinh Vo

Supreme Court to Decide on Law Regulating Sale of Violent Video Games to Kids

Wired reports that the Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether states may forbid the sale or rental of violent video games to children. The Court will review a ruling by the Ninth Circuit that struck down a California law, imposing fines for selling “patently offensive” or “morbid” games to people under the age of 18, on First Amendment grounds. Similar laws have been overturned in other states, including Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Oklahoma. According to the New York Times, the decision to hear the case — despite general agreement among lower courts — suggests that some justices intend to reexamine how the First Amendment applies to depictions of violence.

Senators Attack New Facebook Features on Privacy Grounds

TechCrunch and Ars Technica report that a group of four U.S. senators is calling on Facebook to change its privacy policies following the popular social networking site’s launch of major new features last week. Democrats Al Franken, Charles Schumer, Michael Bennet, and Mark Begich, in an open letter to Facebook, warned that the Federal Trade Commission may get involved if the company does not take “swift and productive steps” to protect the privacy of user information. Their primary concerns were the “expansion of publicly available data” that users must opt out of sharing and third-party advertisers’ ability to store user profile data indefinitely. These features, according to the senators, create a “potential gold mine of data for unsolicited advertisements.” The senators also asked the FTC to provide guidelines for the use of private information by social networking sites.

Court Orders Aspiring News Blogger to Reveal Sources

A New Jersey appellate court ruled that a blogger must disclose the sources behind online statements she posted, Wired reports. Shellee Hale was sued for defamation after accusing software company Too Much Media of fraudulent acts against its customers. The statements at issue were not posted on Hale’s own blog, but rather in the comments section of a message board. The appellate court was not convinced by Hale’s defense utilizing a New Jersey shield law, protecting reporters from being forced to reveal their sources, because Hale is not a journalist. The court stated there was no evidence demonstrating conduct consistent with professional news reporting that would warrant application of the newsperson’s privilege. Hale produced no records of her interviews and did not identify herself as a journalist to sources. The court emphasized that “new media should not be confused with news media.”

Posted On Apr - 30 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Kassity Liu

Amazon Files Lawsuit to Protect Consumer Privacy

On April 19, 2010, online retailer Amazon.com filed a lawsuit against the North Carolina Department of Revenue (DOR), asking a federal judge to preempt the DOR’s request for detailed information on consumers’ purchases from the company’s website. CNET and Ars Technica reported that Amazon is pushing back because it believes the DOR’s request violates consumers’ rights under the First Amendment and the Video Privacy Protection Act. In its complaint, Amazon argues that there is “no discernible need” for state tax collectors to know the specific items consumers purchase on its website, stating that the information that Amazon has already handed over — a list of items and “the ZIP code to which the item[s] were shipped” — is sufficient to determine whether the company is in compliance with the state’s tax laws. Amazon fears that full disclosure of consumers’ purchase options would “chill the exercise of customers’ expressive choices” and reduce the company’s overall sales. However, the DOR may consider this information necessary for identifying “residents [who] are skirting paying their sales taxes” on Amazon items, which are subject to state use taxes.

Google Introduces the Government Requests Tool, Paving the Way for Increased Transparency

On April 20, 2010, Wired and the Electronic Frontier Foundation reported the launch of Google’s new feature, the Government Requests Tool. The tool discloses the number of times that individual governments around the world have asked Google to remove content from its websites for reasons other than copyright violations, as well as the number of user information requests. Though far from complete — it does not report some user information requests such as those tied to national security investigations and lacks information on “the number of people named in the requests, whether Google fought the request, or which products the requests apply to” — Google suggests the tool “will add to the long-running debate about how much power law enforcement and governments should have to see what citizens do online.”

First Draft of ACTA Released, Revealing Measures Intended to Curb Online Piracy

On April 21, 2010, Ars Technica reported the release of the first official draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). The Electronic Frontier Foundation notes that ACTA, which originally had been portrayed as an effort to prevent the circulation of physical counterfeit goods, now extends more broadly to cover copyright and the Internet. The ACTA draft contains a number of provisions that extend “beyond those agreed in the 1994 Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property and the 1996 WIPO Copyright Treaty and Performances and Phonograms Treaty.” First, Internet service providers or Internet intermediaries around the world would be obligated to adopt policies that “address the unauthorized storage or transmission of materials protected by copyright.” This would encourage countries to require that ISPs engage in measures such as Internet disconnection and website blocking to address piracy. Second, the United States’ DMCA technical protection measures (TPM) legal framework would apply globally. This would impose a ban on TPM circumvention and circumvention devices, criminalizing even some otherwise fair uses. Third, criminal sanctions may extend to cover a wide range of non-commercial activities under the ACTA’s “broad definition of ‘commercial scale’.” Previous leaks of the ACTA and bracketed areas in the draft indicate that a number of disagreements still exist between the negotiating countries, thus the treaty terms are likely to change in the upcoming months.

Posted On Apr - 25 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

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
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