A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news

ITC’s review of an ALJ’s order was not procedurally sound
By Mengyi Wang – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit unanimously vacated and remanded a decision of the International Trade Commission (“ITC”), finding that the ITC exceeded its authority in reviewing an administrative law judge’s (“ALJ”) order denying a motion for termination. In so holding, the Court rejected the ITC’s attempt to characterize the ALJ’s decision as an initial determination, which would be subject to review.



Facebook’s experiment of emotional contagion raises concerns
By Jenny Choi – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

On June 17, 2014, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences released a study in which Facebook reduced positive and negative posts on News Feeds to observe any changes in the participants’ posts to test whether emotional states are contagious through verbal expressions. Many have criticized Facebook for the experiment,  finding that Facebook has deceived its users, violated past Consent Orders, and stretched the users’ terms of service agreements too far.



Georgia Supreme Court Takes Chan v. Ellis Appeal to Redefine First Amendment Right on the Internet
By Yixuan Long – Edited by Emma Winer

The Georgia Court of Appeals ordered the appeal in Ellis v. Chan be transferred to the Georgia Supreme Court. Chan, an interactive website owner, appealed the trial court’s permanent protective order, which commanded him to take down more than 2000 posts on his website, and forbade him from coming within 1000 yards of Ellis. The Court of Appeals decided that the case raised significant constitutional issues regarding the First Amendment right on the internet.



Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Ken Winterbottom

Access to nude photos is a ‘perk’ of working at the NSA, Snowden says

Record label slams YouTube star with copyright infringement suit

Study shows women are still underrepresented among technology leaders



SDNY Holds Bitcoins Fall Under Purview of Federal Money Laundering Statute

By Amanda Liverzani  Edited by Mengyi Wang

The debate surrounding the legal status of Bitcoins continued to heat up, as the Southern District of New York weighed in on whether the virtual currency could be used to launder money under 18 U.S.C. §1956(h). In a July 9, 2014 opinion penned by Judge Forrest in United States v. Ulbricht, the court held that exchanges involving Bitcoins constitute “financial transactions” for purposes of the money laundering statute, noting that “[a]ny other reading would—in light of Bitcoins’ sole raison d’etre—be nonsensical.”


Fifth Circuit Holds No Safety Exception to Communications Decency Act ISP Immunity
By Anna Volftsun — Edited by Nicola Carah

Doe v. MySpace, Inc.
Fifth Circuit, May 16, 2008, No. 07-50345
Slip Opinion

On May 16, 2008, the Fifth Circuit unanimously upheld the Western District of Texas, finding Section 230(c)(1) of the Communications Decency Act (“CDA 230”) barred a parent’s claims for negligence and gross negligence against the social networking site, MySpace.com. The suit was brought on behalf of Doe’s 13-year-old daughter, who misrepresented her age to create a profile on MySpace, and was subsequently contacted and allegedly sexually assaulted by a 19-year-old MySpace user.

Julie Doe, a 13-year-old minor, represented her age as 18 when creating a MySpace profile. MySpace defaults all 14-year-old and 15-year-old profiles to “private,” which restricts profile access to confirmed “friends” only. But as a result of Doe’s misrepresentation, her profile was made “public” and viewable by the all other MySpace users, including 19-year-old Pete Solis. Solis contacted Doe, the two exchanged phone numbers, and after communicating several times off-line, arranged a meeting at which Solis allegedly sexually assaulted Doe.

Eric Goldman of the Technology and Marketing Law Blog sees this as a victory for proponents of strong CDA 230 immunity. He notes that several cases leading up to the decision, including Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommates.com, Mazur v. eBay, and Doe v. FriendFinder, Inc., had evinced a trend towards loosening the immunity provided to internet providers under the statute. While Goldman hopes the MySpace decision will discourage plaintiffs from continuing to bring claims against websites for failing to protect or police its users, he remains “flummoxed by the number of cases [he is] seeing involving teens making poor (and, in some cases, life-altering) decisions using MySpace.”

Sam Bayard of the Citizen Media Law Project is more ambivalent about the outcome. While he believes that the CDA 230 is an important protection for internet service providers, he thinks the decision may have gone too far. He paraphrases John Palfrey of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, who noted in an internal email:

“MySpace is a powerful corporate intermediary that has broad ability to control the networked public space it makes available to minors and adults alike, and it doesn’t necessarily serve any of the congressional objectives behind CDA.”

Full Text of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 at the US Government Printing Office.


Posted On May - 31 - 2008 1 Comment READ FULL POST

Seventh Circuit Clarifies Online Service Liability for Illegal Advertisements

By Michelle Yang — Edited by Wen Bu

Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. v. Craigslist, Inc.
Seventh Circuit, March 14, 2008, No. 07-1101
Slip Opinion

On March 14, the Seventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment by the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois for Craigslist, holding that the online bulletin board did not violate the Fair Housing Act by providing “an electronic meeting place” that hosted, among many other things, illegally discriminatory housing advertisements. The opinion by Chief Judge Easterbrook clarified the potential liability of an online service: as Craigslist was not a “speaker” of the illegal information, it was not liable as a publisher.

Eric Goldman
of Technology and Marketing Law Blog analyzes Judge Easterbrook’s reasoning as part of 47 USC 230 Week.
Howard Bashman of How Appealing provides additional links, as well as coverage on the en banc rehearing of a similar case, Fair Housing Council v. Roommates.com, before the Ninth Circuit.
Randy Picker of the University of Chicago Law School Faculty Blog sees the ruling as yet another reason newspapers are dying in the competition against less-strictly-regulated online competitors.
In 2001, Joel Michael Schwarz contributed a JOLT article about liability for third party postings in the context of practicing law over the Internet.


Posted On Mar - 19 - 2008 Comments Off READ FULL POST

House Passes Version of Controversial Wiretapping Legislation Without Telecom Immunity

By Andrew Ungberg — Edited by Wen Bu

H.R. 3773 – Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008
Full Text of House Bill
Full Text of Corresponding Senate Bill
CRS Summary of House Bill
GovTrack Summary (including House vote details)

On Friday, March 14, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 3773, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”) of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008. The House bill, which passed 213-193, would set new rules for governmental “eavesdropping” on phone calls and emails within the United States. Originally introduced in October 2007 by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and several other House Democrats, the bill aims to resolve issues associated with the wiretapping program the Administration created in the wake of September 11, 2001. The House version of the bill would establish restraints for future government action, as well as the procedures for challenging those actions in court.

Unlike the Senate version of the bill, S. 2248, which the Senate passed in February, the House version does not grant immunity from civil liability to telecommunications companies accused of illegally cooperating with government surveillance.

Some other highlights of the bill:

  • Government must seek approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before conducting surveillance.
  • Intelligence agencies are forbidden from reverse-targeting American citizens through surveillance of foreigners.
  • A “Commission on Warrantless Electronic Surveillance Activities” will be established to investigate government surveillance since September 11, 2001.

The Associated Press and OMB Watch report on the passage of the House bill.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) explained more of the process behind the House bill’s passage.
Hugh D’Andrade of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in response to the debate on the FISA amendments, excerpted several opinion pieces on “how surveillance hurts free speech.”


Posted On Mar - 19 - 2008 1 Comment READ FULL POST

Sixth Circuit Affirms Dismissal of § 1983 Claim Arising from Publication of SSN on County Website

By Evan Kubota — Edited by David Lawson

Lambert v. Hartman et al.
Sixth Circuit, February 25, 2007, No. 07-3154
Slip Opinion
District Court Order

On February 25, the Sixth Circuit affirmed a ruling of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio dismissing a § 1983 claim brought against the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts and Board of City Commissioners by a victim of identity theft, after the clerk published the victim’s Social Security number and other identifying information on a publicly accessible website. The court held that potential financial harm alone was insufficient to implicate the “fundamental liberty interest” necessary to trigger a right to informational privacy.

Online commentary on the appellate decision has been light, despite its potentially serious implications.
The Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society elucidated the district court opinion.
The circuit court cited Helen L. Gilbert‘s interesting Chicago Law Review Comment on informational privacy.


Posted On Feb - 27 - 2008 Comments Off READ FULL POST

En Banc Hearing of the Federal Communications Commission on Broadband Network Management Practices
Ames Courtroom, Harvard Law School, February 25, 2007
Full video recording (RealPlayer format)
Full audio recording (RealPlayer format)
Statements of FCC Chairman Martin and Commissioners Copps, Adelstein, Tate, and McDowell

On February 25, Harvard Law School and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society hosted an unusual en banc hearing of the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) at Harvard Law School. FCC held the hearing in response to a Petition for Rulemaking filed by Vuze, Inc., a peer-to-peer video distribution company, objecting to the network management practices of Comcast Corp., a large U.S. Internet service provider. JOLT Digest’s Debbie Rosenbaum recently covered Comcast’s filing in response to the Vuze petition.

The Ames Courtroom reached capacity well before the hearing began, and multiple JOLT Digest staff members were unable to gain access to the hearing. Other media outlets and commentators have, however, extensively reported on the proceedings. A selection of news articles and commentary follows.

Chris Kanaracus of IDG News Service reported extensively on the hearing.
Stephen Labaton of the New York Times and Cecilia Kang of the Washington Post reported on the hearing.
Mark Jewell of the AP reported on accusations that Comcast paid unaffiliated individuals to arrive early, occupy seats in the Ames Courtroom, and applaud after Comcast-friendly testimony.
Matthew Lasar of Ars Technica reports on the hearing from a technical perspective.
The Berkman Center has a roundup of additional links.
Richard Koman of Sci-Tech Today evaluated the testimony of Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen.
Josh Stearns of Save the Internet and Sam Gustin of Conde Nast Portfolio commented on the “astroturfing” allegations.
Finally, Boston entrepreneur Christopher Herot offered detailed commentary on all portions of the proceedings.

Posted On Feb - 27 - 2008 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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ITC’s review of an

ITC’s review of an ALJ’s order was not procedurally sound By ...

Photo By: mkhmarketing - CC BY 2.0

Facebook’s experim

Facebook’s experiment of emotional contagion raises concerns By Jenny Choi – ...


Georgia Supreme Cour

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Flash Digest: News i

By Ken Winterbottom Access to nude photos is a ‘perk’ of ...


SDNY Holds Bitcoins

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang United States v. Ulbricht, ...