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District Court Holds that Internet-Based Television Provider, FilmOn X is Entitled to a Compulsory License

By Anne Woodworth – Edited by Henry Thomas

The U.S. District court for the Central District of California ruled that an online streaming service that rebroadcasted network television fit the definition of a cable company, and was entitled to compulsory licensing under § 111 of the Copyright Act.  The order relied on the Supreme Court’s Aereo decision, which held that internet streaming was fundamentally the same as cable. The ruling conflicts with a Second Circuit case decided on similar facts, and is immediately appealable.

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Data Breach Victims, Rejoice: Seventh Circuit Finds that Threat of Injury is Sufficient for Article III Standing in Data Breach Class Actions

By Brittany Doyle – Edited by Ariane Moss

Last Monday, the Seventh Circuit Courto of Appeals ruled that victims of a data breach had standing to pursue a class action even when they had not suffered direct financial harm as a result of the breach or when they had already been compensated for financial harm resulting from the breach. The opinion reversed a contrary district court decision, which the Seventh Circuit said had incorrectly read the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Clapper v. Amnesty International USA.

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How Far Can Law Enforcement Go When Gathering Email Evidence? Former Gov. Scott Walker Employee Files Petition for Writ of Certiorari

By Kasey Wang – Edited by Ariane Moss

Kelly Rindfleisch is serving a six-month sentence for misconduct in public office while working for then-County Executive Scott Walker. Rindfleisch appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming that the government violated her Fourth Amendment rights while searching her emails for evidence for a different case.

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Russia’s “Right To Be Forgotten” and China’s Right To Be Protected: New Privacy and Security Legislation

By Brittany Doyle – Edited by Ken Winterbottom

The legislatures in Russia and China took steps this month to tighten regulations over Internet companies with access to user data. In Russia, President Vladmir Putin signed a law ensuring a “right to be forgotten” reminiscent of the European Court of Justice’s right to be forgotten ruling of May 2014. And in China, the National People’s Congress released a draft cybersecurity bill that would formalize and strengthen the State’s long-standing regulation of websites and network operators.

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Washington Appeals Court Refuses to Compel Unmasking of Anonymous Avvo Critic Absent Evidence of Defamation

By Leonidas Angelakos – Edited by Olga Slobodyanyuk

The Washington Court of Appeals held that—absent evidence of defamation—a third party website is not required to unmask an anonymous defendant. The court adopted an analysis similar to the widely cited Dendrite test for the showing a defamation plaintiff must make on a motion to compel disclosure of an anonymous defendant’s identity.

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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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