A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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The Court of Justice of the European Union Finds the Harbor No Longer Safe

Written by: Ann Kristin Glenster - Edited by: David Nathaniel Tan

This fall, the Court of Justice of the European Union delivered a landmark ruling,  holding that the Safe Harbor Agreement on the handling of personal data by U.S. companies in Europe was invalid. This article will give a brief overview of the case, and explore the salient issues to which the European Court took umbrage. Finally, it will attempt to sketch out some possible consequences of the ruling, and the options that now face E.U. and U.S. legislators.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Yiran Zhang – Edited by Olga Slobodyanyuk

Senators Introduce a Bill which Requires Social Media Companies to Report Terrorist Activity

New EU Copyright Rules Left Possibility for Google Tax

COP21 Reached an “Ambitious and Balanced” Deal on Climate Change

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By David Nathaniel Tan – Edited by Adi Kamdar

Software Pirate Settles Suit Via YouTube

After Paris Attacks, FCC Chairman Calls for Expanded Wiretap Laws

Hoverboards Declared Illegal in New York City

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Belgian Court Demands that Facebook Stop Tracking Non-Members

By Mila Owen – Edited by Kayla Haran

The Belgian Privacy Commission requested a cessation order against Facebook regarding their practice of placing “datr” cookies on devices of non-Facebook users to track activity on other Facebook pages or on pages containing the “like” or “share” button. The court ruled that this tracking violates the Belgian Privacy Act because it amounts to the collection and “processing of personal data.”

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Facebook not liable for discrimination against Sikhs in India

By Ann Kristin Glenster – Edited by Yaping Zhang

By dismissing Sikhs for Justice Inc.’s case against Facebook for discrimination by blocking the group’s page in India, the United District Court of Northern California maintains the neutrality of interactive online providers and exempts them from liability under Title II of the Civil Rights Act.

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RIAA wins overwhelming copyright and sanctions victory against Usenet.com

By Sharona Hakimi – Edited by Anthony Kammer
Arista Records LLC v. Usenet.com, Inc., June 30, 2009, No. 07 Civ. 8822
Opinion

On June 30, 2009, a New York District Court granted summary judgment for the Recording Artist Association of America (RIAA) in its case against Usenet.com.  Judge Harold Baer of the Southern District of New York held the website liable for direct, contributory, and vicarious copyright infringement.  Additionally, Judge Baer issued discovery sanctions against Usenet.com for engaging in a wide array of litigation misconduct that included wiping hard drives, sending witnesses to Europe to avoid depositions, and stonewalling legal questionnaires.  A magistrate judge will soon determine the appropriate remedies.

Ars Technica summarizes the litigation, providing background to the case and the history of the website.  Greg Sandoval of cnet news offers a short recap of the case.  Billboard.biz writer Ben Sheffner outlines the potential precedential impact of the decision.  The RIAA released a statement regarding the victory on its Music Notes Blog.

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Posted On Jul - 9 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Brian Kozlowski

Lori Drew “Cyberbullying” Conviction Thrown Out

The Los Angeles Times reports that on July 2nd, a federal judge dismissed the case against “cyberbully” Lori Drew, saying that the clear terms of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) preclude a guilty verdict. The Lori Drew case received widespread media attention eight months ago when the 50 year-old mother was found guilty of “unauthorized computer access” under the CFFA for aiding her daughter in creating a fake MySpace account that led to another girl’s suicide. The guilty verdict was ardently criticized for criminalizing violations of websites’ terms of service, which few users actually read when creating accounts, essentially allowing websites to make their own law.

China’s Mandatory Client-Side Censoring Program Delayed

Only a day before the previously announced July 1st deadline, the Chinese government announced, through official news agency Xinhua, a delay in the requirement that PC makers pre-install a web-filtering program called “Green Dam Youth Escort.” The Wall Street Journal reports that the project is not abandoned, but merely delayed. Green Dam was first released several months ago as a pornography-filtering program and didn’t evolve into a requirement until the beginning of June, much to the chagrin of PC manufacturers. After the University of Michigan discovered serious security holes, which would open computers to remote code execution, PC manufacturers began to worry about liability issues and possibly acquiring reputations for supporting censorship. So far, only Sony has shipped computers with the software pre-installed in advance of the July 1st deadline.

Supreme Court Allows Remote Storage DVR

Ars Technica and Wired both report that the Supreme Court declined to hear a final appeal in the Cablevision DVR case on the final day of its term. The Second Circuit had allowed Cablevision to continue offering its customers a recording system that is different from traditional recording only in that it stores the customers’ recordings of copyrighted content remotely on Cablevision’s servers. Because the consumer maintains control over the recordings, rather than accessing an on-demand library provided by Cablevision, the court ruled that the recordings were still fair use. Television networks called the case the most important since the 1984 ruling that consumer VHS recording of copyrighted movies falls under fair use. The Supreme Court’s silence aligns with the filing by the Obama administration suggesting that this case was not the appropriate forum to “clarify” the legal issues of fair use.

Another Nesson-RIAA Continue to Clash over File-Sharing

As reported by Ars Technica, Harvard Law professor Charlie Nesson is once more facing off against the RIAA’s MediaSentry in the illegal file-sharing suit against Joel Tenenbaum. Tenenbaum, like Jammie Thomas-Rasset before him, is accused of sharing songs illegally on KaZaa. Nesson and his associates aim to try the same legal tactic that has failed them in the past, namely attempting to discredit the evidence brought by the RIAA as being gathered illegally. The high-profile cases, including controversial high damage awards and internal defense disputes, have been part of a larger attempt to establish solid legal precedent, or prompt a legislative solution, for future file-sharing disputes.

Posted On Jul - 4 - 2009 1 Comment READ FULL POST

Tenth Circuit Affirms Liability for Seller of Private Telephone Records

By Tyler Lacey – Edited by Anthony Kammer
Federal Trade Commission v. Accusearch Inc., June 29, 2009, No. 08-8003
Slip Opinion

On June 29, 2009, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the Wyoming District Court, holding that Accursearch’s sale of private telephone records on its Abika.com website constituted an unfair practice in violation of the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA) and granted summary judgment for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Dan Gooden of The Register provides an overview of the opinion. Eric Goldman criticizes the court’s opinion on his Technology & Marketing Law blog. Although Goldman doubts that “the literal holding of this case is all that troubling to most folks” he believes that the court “muddles the discussion” of each of the CDA immunity prongs.  In particular, Goldman believes that the court erred when it decided that “develop” was essentially synonymous with “publish” for the purposes of analyzing CDA immunity. Goldman describes the opinion as a “major carveback of [the CDA]‘s coverage” and predicts problems for online retailers that republish third-party content. (more…)

Posted On Jul - 4 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Ninth Circuit Holds Anti-Spyware Software Company is Protected by Communications Decency Act Sec. 230 Immunity

By Dmitriy Tishyevich-Edited by Anthony Kammer
Zango, Inc. v. Kaspersky Lab, Inc., June 25, 2009, No. 07-35800.
Slip Opinion

On June 25, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for Kaspersky Lab, which distributes software that filters and blocks malicious programs.  The Ninth Circuit held that Kaspersky qualified for civil liability immunity under the Communications Decency Act Sec. 230(c)(2)(B) and rejected Zango’s argument that Sec. 230 immunity was limited only to Internet content providers.

The E-Commerce and Tech Law Blog summarizes the opinion. Eric Goldman provides another summary, agreeing with the outcome, but pointing out some questions the decision left open.
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Posted On Jul - 1 - 2009 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Andrew Jacobs

FTC Ready to Regulate Blogs

On June 21, The Washington Post reported that revised FTC advertising guidelines, set to be approved late this summer, will explicitly include blogs within their scope. The guidelines make clear that bloggers must disclose any compensation they receive for product endorsements and that they may be held liable for false claims made in those endorsements. According to the Post, while some bloggers worry about potential chilling effects, others believe that the guidelines will lead to more trust within the blogosphere and increased advertiser comfort with blogs.

City Removes Requirement that Job Applicants Disclose Social Networking Passwords

On June 22, the City Commission of Bozeman, Montana, rescinded a requirement that city job applicants disclose their usernames and passwords for websites such as Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace, the Billings Gazette reports. The requirement was part of Bozeman’s background check consent and release form. The commission’s decision came less than a week after a Montana television station discovered and reported on the policy, which quickly provoked additional coverage and criticism from tech media and legal blogs.

Google’s Italian Court Date Set Back

The AP reports that on June 23, the Italian trial of four Google executives for defamation and privacy law violations was postponed until September due to the absence of an interpreter. Italian prosecutors brought the case seeking to hold Google liable for allowing a video of an autistic child being beaten by his classmates to be posted on YouTube. Though an E.U. law similar to the U.S.’s 47. U.S.C. §230 immunizes internet service providers from liability based on third-party content, the suit was brought under an Italian penal statute which holds content providers responsible for user-generated material, according to the Proskauer Privacy Law Blog. Alessandro del Ninno, an expert on Internet law, says the case is the first of its kind in Europe.

Posted On Jun - 26 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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