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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By Jyoti Uppuluri

Public Battle Between Google and China Continues

On March 12, Wired reported that the friction between Google and China over the censorship of search results and issues of cybersecurity is ongoing as Google keeps pushing for greater Internet freedom for users. China’s Minister of Information and Technology, Li Yizhong, told the press “Google has made its case, both publicly and privately,” and explained “[i]f you don’t respect Chinese laws, you are unfriendly and irresponsible, and the consequences will be on you.” Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, stated that he hopes that talks with the Chinese government will yield a result soon.

Netflix Cancels Prize Contest Over Privacy Concerns

On March 12, Ars Technica reported that Netflix has cancelled its second Netflix Prize contest in order settle a lawsuit and alleviate concerns by the Federal Trade Commission. In December, a user sued Netflix, alleging that the data provided by the company to contest participants was insufficiently anonymized. According to Ars Technica, the suit claims that Netflix “violated fair-trade laws and a federal privacy law designed to protect video rental records.” Neil Hunt, Netflix’s chief product officer, stated that company has “reached an understanding with the FTC and ha[s] settled the lawsuit with plaintiffs,” noting that the agreement “involves certain parameters for how [the company] use[s] Netflix data in any future research programs.”

More Freedom for Social Media Services to Operate in Iran, Cuba, and Sudan

On March 10, the Electronic Frontier Foundation reported that the United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) has announced “key amendments” regarding export controls on social media software. The new rules clarify that the export of certain personal communication services and software over the Internet, including “instant messaging, chat and email, [and] social networking,” is now permitted in Iran, Cuba, and Sudan. Prior to these amendments, OFAC’s regulations had been a source of legal ambiguity for companies such as Google and Microsoft, causing them to block some personal communication services in these nations.

Posted On Mar - 16 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

TiVo Wins Five Year Battle Over Patent Infringement with EchoStar
By Katy Yang – Edited by Kassity Liu

TiVo Inc. v. EchoStar Corp., No. 2009-1374 (E.D. Tex., March 4, 2010)
Slip Opinion

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a decision by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, which had found EchoStar in contempt of a permanent injunction order that was issued by the court in an earlier judgment in which two types of EchoStar receivers were found to infringe on TiVo’s time-shift technology patent. The order had required EchoStar “to stop making, using, offering to sell, and selling the receivers”  and “to disable the DVR functionality in existing receivers, with the exception of select receivers that had already been placed with its subscribers.”

The Federal Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in holding contempt proceedings for adjudicating the continued infringement of EchoStar’s redesigned receivers, nor did it commit clear error in finding continued infringement by these receivers. It also held that the district court’s injunction was clear enough to provide reasonable notice of the order to disable the DVR function in all infringing receivers, and upheld the provision of the injunction requiring EchoStar to notify the court of additional redesign attempts and to seek approval before executing a design-around.

Bloomberg and the Associated Press provide overviews of the case.  Gordon Patent Cases summarizes some of the legal issues in the decision, and Beta News provides a detailed comparison of the majority and dissenting opinions. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 14 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Supreme Court Holds That Federal Courts Have Jurisdiction over Unregistered Copyright Claims
By Debbie Rosenbaum – Edited by Gary Pong

Reed Elsevier v. Muchnick, No. 08–103 (U.S. Mar. 2, 2010)
Slip Opinion

In a unanimous 8-0 decision, the United States Supreme Court overturned a Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision which held that the district court lacked jurisdiction to certify either the class or the settlement in a case involving holders of unregistered copyrights. The Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit had held in a sua sponte decision that a copyright holder’s failure to comply with § 411(a)‘s registration requirement deprives a federal court of subject-matter jurisdiction to adjudicate his copyright infringement claim. The Supreme Court disagreed.

Justice Sotomayor did not take part in the decision, perhaps because she was a member of the Second Circuit Court that decided not to rehear the case en banc.  The Supreme Court decision revived a possible $18 million settlement between freelance writers, publishers and electronic database owners, involving payment to freelance writers for online use of their work — even when some writers have not registered their copyright.

The New York Times and TechDirt both provide overviews of the decision.  The Legal Information Institute at the Cornell University Law School provides a detailed analysis of the issues underlying this case. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 5 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Tyler Lacey

RealNetworks Won’t Appeal Decision Declaring Its DVD Copying Software in Violation of DMCA

On March 4, Wired reported that RealNetworks plans to cease litigation of a lawsuit filed by the Motion Picture Association of America (“MPAA”) alleging that its DVD copying software, RealDVD, violates the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”).  RealNetworks had initially planned to appeal a California district court’s decision that the software illegally circumvented the DVD encryption technology, Content Scramble System. However, after two years of litigation, RealNetworks has decided not to appeal in an effort to cut its losses, which according to Wired amount to “millions of dollars, including $4.5 million to reimburse the MPAA for its legal costs.”  Wired argues that “RealNetworks’ admitted defeat solidifies the DMCA’s power.”

Google Obtains Patent on Location-Targeted Advertising Method

Mashable reports that Google obtained a patent for “determining and/or using location information in an ad system” on February 23. The patent, which Mashable characterizes as “broad,” was filed on April 12, 2004.  Mashable also reports that since the patent’s filing date, several companies have started practicing a method of targeting advertisements based on an individual’s location, with AdMob and Quattro Wireless “leading the charge.”  Quattro Wireless has been acquired by Apple, which Mashable notes is “quickly becoming [Google’s] primary rival” in mobile advertising.  The patent abstract states in part that the patented method “may be used in a relevancy determination of an ad” and that “[a]d performance information may be tracked on the basis of location information.”

Canadian Government to Allow Increased Foreign Investment in Telecommunications Industry

On March 4, CBC News reported that the Canadian government is planning to loosen foreign ownership restrictions on telecommunications companies as a part of its new budget proposal.  The new rules will initially allow foreign startups and acquisitions of small companies, and will allow foreign takeovers of larger companies within five years. According to the article, there are currently restrictions in place designed to ensure Canadians are in control of any telecommunications carriers that operate in Canada, including minimum levels of Canadian board membership and ownership of voting shares. Industry experts argue that the old rules are “archaic and anti-competitive,” and are the reason “prices have been high and service levels low.” According to Canada’s Governor General Michaëlle Jean, the new rules will give “Canadian firms access to the funds and expertise they need.”

Posted On Mar - 5 - 2010 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Court Excludes Litigation Fees from Calculation of Damages under DMCA § 512(f).
By Debbie Rosenbaum – Edited by Gary Pong

Lenz v. Universal Music Corp., Case No. 5:07-cv-03783-JF (N.D. Cal., Feb. 25, 2010)
Slip Opinion
(Hosted by the Citizen Media Law Project)

On February 25, 2010, Judge Fogel for the Northern District of California held that a plaintiff suing over a wrongful Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) takedown notice can only recover for damages that were proximately caused by said notice.  This effectively limits the plaintiff’s recovery to attorney’s fees for pre-litigation activities such as the filing of the DMCA counter-notification.  To recover for attorney’s fees incurred in the actual § 512(f) suit, the plaintiff’s only recourse is in 17 U.S.C. § 505 of the Copyright Act – providing that “the court in its discretion may allow the recovery of full costs … [or] reasonable attorney’s fee to the prevailing party.”  In so holding, the court  may actually be discouraging 512(f) plaintiffs from bringing suit by limiting their compensable damages.

Ars Technica and Copyrights & Campaigns provide a general overview of the decision.  The Citizen Media Law Project offers briefs of all portions of the case. (more…)

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