A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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The FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules on Protecting and Promoting Open Internet

By Shuli Wang – Edited by Yaping Zhang

Two weeks after voting on regulating broadband Internet service as a public utility, on March 12, the Federal Communications Commission (”FCC”) released a document (the FCC Order and Rules) on net neutrality, which reclassifies high-speed Internet as a telecommunications service rather than an information service, thus subjecting Internet service providers (ISPs) as common carrier to regulations under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. The purpose of the new rules is to ensure the free flow of bits through the web without paid-for priority lanes and blocking or throttling of any web content.

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White House releases administration discussion draft for Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2015

By Lan Du – Edited by Katherine Kwong

On February 27, 2015, President Obama released an administration draft of a proposed Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act. The proposed bill’s stated purpose is to “establish baseline protections for individual privacy in the commercial arena and to foster timely, flexible implementations of these protections through enforceable codes of conduct developed by diverse stakeholders.”

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Patrick Gallagher

Federal Circuit Affirms Denial of AT&T Motion to Extend or Re-open Filing Period for Appeal in Patent Infringement Suit

In Patent Suit Against Apple, Federal Circuit Affirms in Part, Reverses in Part

Federal Circuit Reverses DNA Sequencing Technology Patent Construction

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Wikimedia Sues NSA for Upstream Surveillance

By Paulius Jurcys – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

Wikimedia Foundation filed a suit against the NSA challenging the constitutionality of upstream surveillance programs, which allow the NSA to communicate by Americans and persons abroad. The claim, which was joined by eight other human rights organizations, challenges NSA’s actions as violations of the First and Fourth Amendments of the US Constitution.

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Florida Considers a Bill Outlawing Anonymous Websites

By Paulius Jurcys – Edited by Anton Ziajka

Florida lawmakers are considering a bill, the “True Origin of Digital Goods Act,”  that would require owners and operators of websites that disseminate “commercial” recordings or audiovisual works to prominently disclose their true names, physical addresses, and telephone numbers or email addresses on the websites. The bill extends to all websites that deal “in substantial part” in disseminating such recordings or audiovisual works, “directly or indirectly,” to Florida consumers.

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By Caity Ross

British Web Tracking Tool Violates European Union Privacy Laws

This Tuesday, the European Union issued a legal warning against Britain for not applying EU data privacy rules to Phorm, a new advertising technology that tracks the Web movements of internet users. BT, Britain’s largest service provider, used Phorm without its customers’ consent during 2006 and 2007. As reported in the New York Times, the European telecommunications commissioner stated that the “European privacy rules are crystal clear: a person’s information can only be used with their prior consent.” The Associated Press describes further actions the European Commission may take if Britain does not adequately enforce European privacy laws.

Proposed Bill Would Remove Sales Tax “Loophole” for Online Purchases

CNET News reports that a congressional bill expected to be introduced early next week “would rewrite the ground rules for mail order and Internet sales.” Under existing law, consumers are responsible for reporting and paying the amount owed for online and mail order purchases under their home state’s sales tax. According to CNET, “California’s Board of Equalization estimates the state lost $1.34 billion in 2003 because residents aren’t paying use taxes–and attributes $208 million of that to online purchases.” The proposed bill could incorporate the Streamlined Sales Tax Agreement, which encourages states to simplify their sales tax codes in order to help online retailers collect sales taxes more easily.

Swedish Anti-File Sharing Law Decreases Traffic, Increases Legal Downloads

Enforcement of Sweden’s Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED) law began on April 1, 2009. The Local notes that the law resulted in a 30% decrease in online traffic, as well as a doubling of legal music downloads. T3 reports that the in response to the IPRED enforcement, The Pirate Bay plans to offer a Virtual Private Network service that will make internet users more anonymous.

Posted On Apr - 17 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

District Court Upholds First Amendment Challenge to the URAA
By Caitlyn Ross – Edited by Stephanie Weiner

Golan v. Holder
D. of Colorado, April 3, 2009, No. 01-cv-01854-LTB
Memorandum Opinion (hosted by the Stanford Fair Use Project)

On April 3rd, the United States District Court for the District of Colorado granted plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, upholding the First Amendment challenge to Section 514 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), codified in 17 U.S.C. §104A. The case was on remand from Golan v. Gonzales (10th Cir.), which instructed the District Court to evaluate the First Amendment implications of restoration.  Judge Lewis T. Babcock held that §104A, which restored copyright in certain foreign works that had previously fallen into the public domain, cannot survive First Amendment scrutiny.

The URAA restored the US copyrights of foreign authors whose works entered the public domain for any reason other than the expiration of a copyright term in the work’s country of origin. The Tenth Circuit determined that the law “altered the traditional contours of copyright protection” by restoring copyrights in works of foreign origin that were previously in the public domain in the United States and therefore the law was subject to First Amendment scrutiny. The court held that once the works entered the public domain, the plaintiffs acquired a vested interest in the speech. On remand, the District Court – which had previously upheld § 104A – held that this provision of the URAA violates the First Amendment insofar as it suppresses parties’ rights to continue using works they had exploited when those works were in the public domain.

According to Anthony Falzone of the Stanford Fair Use Project, which is litigating the dispute, this is “the first time a court has held any part of the Copyright Act violates the First Amendment.” The Technology & Marketing Law Blog provides an overview of the case. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 13 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Second Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Trademark Infringement Suit Against Google
By Debbie Rosenbaum – Edited by Stephanie Weiner

Rescuecom v. Google
Second Circuit, April 3, 2009, 06-4881-cv
Opinion
(hosted by EFF)

On April 3, 2009, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit vacated the District Court for the Northern District of New York’s dismissal of a trademark infringement suit against Google by Rescuecom, Corp., a computer repair firm.

At issue was Google’s AdWords program, which allows advertisers to purchase ads based on the appearance of another (often competing) company’s name in search terms, thus allowing the purchaser’s ads to appear in the search results alongside links to the searched-for company. Also in dispute was Google’s Keyword Suggestion Tool, which recommends potential keywords to advertisers for use in the AdWords program. The key issue was whether Google’s use of Rescuecom’s trademark in both programs constitutes a “use in commerce” under § 1127 of the Lanham Act.

Ars Technica explains that, having distinguished away precedent, the court determined that Google was appropriating trademarked terms. Google’s claim – that it was only using these terms internally as part of its ad-placing algorithm – was dismissed as disingenuous because its Keyword Suggestion Tool was specifically suggesting trademarks to potential ad buyers. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog notes that this may add some clarity to the jumbled law on the use of keywords. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 11 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Evan Kubota

The JOLT Digest is proud to reintroduce the Flash Digest! Flash Digest posts will provide brief summaries of recent news and developments in law and technology, along with links to more in-depth discussions. Flash Digest will allow us to expand our coverage to legal issues that have not yet reached the courts or passed through Congress, but that will likely be of interest to our readers. We have posted Flash Digests in the past, but we hope to make them a more regular occurrence. We hope you find Flash Digest interesting and informative!

- The Digest Staff Editors

Congress Holds Hearing on Digital Piracy

Losses from piracy of copyrighted movies and music amount to $20 billion each year, industry executives and House members asserted at a Congressional field hearing in Los Angeles on Monday. The New York Times describes the panel as recounting “what appeared to be a largely failed effort to stem the illegal sale of copyrighted material in an increasingly wired world.”

Associated Press Declares Policy of Protecting its Content from “Misappropriation”

As reported in the New York Times, the Associated Press has declared it will pursue “misappropriation” and infringement claims against those who do not obtain permission before using its headlines and content. Ars Technica explains that misappropriation, a doctrine developed by the Supreme Court in the 1918 case of International News Service v. Associated Press, effectively grants a short-term monopoly over “hot news” to agencies. Now, more than ninety years later, AP is suing competitor All Headline on a misappropriation theory, alleging that All Headline exploits AP’s stories by rewriting and publishing them without doing its own reporting. The case, Associated Press v. All Headline, is pending in the Southern District of New York.

Proposed Legislation Would Authorize the President to Declare “Cybersecurity Emergency” and Close Portions of the Internet

The Cybersecurity Act of 2009, a bill proposed by Senators Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Snowe (R-Maine) last Wednesday, states that the President may “declare a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic to and from any compromised Federal government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network.” The Act also requires the President to designate an agency to coordinate the “response and restoration” of any such network affected by a “cybersecurity emergency declaration.” In a statement, Senator Snowe called the legislation necessary to avoid risking a “cyber-Katrina.” Mother Jones reports that advocacy groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have raised concerns about the proposed legislation’s effect on Internet users’ privacy rights.

Posted On Apr - 8 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

District Court Applies Bilski to Deny Validity of Business Method Patent Claims
By Evan Kubota – Edited by Caitlyn Ross

Cybersource Corp. v. Retail Decisions, Inc.
N.D. Cal., March 26, 2009, No. C. 04-03268 MHP
Opinion

On March 26, 2009, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California granted defendant Retail Decisions’ motion for summary judgment on the invalidity of two business method patent claims. The ruling invalidated the claims asserted in CyberSource Corp. U.S. Patent No. 6,029,154, titled “Method and system for detecting fraud in a credit card transaction over the Internet.”

California-based CyberSource sued U.K.-based Retail Decisions in 2004, claiming that Retail Decisions’ fraud prevention software products infringed the patent owned by CyberSource.  Retail Decision moved for summary judgment, arguing that CyberSource’s patent failed the Bilski test.

In last year’s In re Bilski decision (covered here by Digest), the Federal Circuit articulated a patentability test requiring that a process either be tied to a machine or apparatus or involve a transformation.  Applying the Bilski test, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel held that plaintiff CyberSource’s claims, both describing processes for detecting credit card fraud in Internet transactions, failed to meet either prong of the “machine-or-transformation” test.

The 271 Patent Blog and patentability analyze the decision in greater detail. Payment Industry Insights has commentary from Retail Decisions’ CEO and its lead counsel. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 5 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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The FCC’s Net Neut

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