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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No Permission Needed to Copyright a Derivative Work

By Adrienne Baker – Edited by Ian C. Wildgoose Brown
Schrock v. Learning Curve Int’l, No. 08-1296 (7th Cir. Sep. 9, 2009)
Opinion

On November 5, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed and remanded a decision of the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, which had ruled that copyright for a derivative work requires permission from the underlying copyright holder to be valid. The district court’s ruling was based on reasoning in Gracen v. Bradford Exchange, 698 F.2d 300 (7th Cir. 1983). The Seventh Circuit instead held that a valid copyright in a derivative work is created by “operation of law” and not by authority of the copyright owner in the underlying work, unless a contract dictates otherwise. Additionally, the court held that there is no heightened standard of originality for copyright protection in a derivative work.

The Exclusive Rights Blog provides an overview of the case. Rebecca Tushnet’s 43(B)log criticizes the circuit court for not explicitly overturning Gracen and asserts photographs of copyrighted material should not be treated as derivative works. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 15 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Tyler Lacey

Convicted Murderer Demands that Wikipedia Remove His Name from Victim’s Article

On November 11, Wired reported that a convicted murderer in Germany has issued a cease-and-desist letter demanding that Wikipedia remove his name from his victim’s Wikipedia article. Wolfgang Werle murdered Bavarian actor Walter Sadlmayr in 1990, and was released on parole in 2007. The letter demands legal fees and compensation for “emotional suffering” caused by the publication of Werle’s name in connection with the murder since his release. German media have already stopped using Werle’s name. Since Wikipedia is an American organization, the Electronic Frontier Foundation describes the issue as “an apparent conflict between the U.S. First Amendment — which protects truthful speech — and German law — which seeks to protect the name and likenesses of private persons from unwanted publicity.”

Senator Criticizes Verizon’s Increased Cancellation Fees as “Anti-Competitive”

On November 10, Ars Technica reported that United States Senator Amy Klobuchar wrote a letter to Verizon, criticizing the company’s announced increase in early cancellation fees for cell phone contracts. Verizon recently announced that, beginning November 15, the fee for cancelling a subsidized smartphone contract would double from a maximum of $175 to $350. Senator Klobuchar, who is a proponent of the Cell Phone Consumer Empowerment Act, called the increase “anti-consumer and anti-competitive.” Senator Klobuchar also wrote a letter to the FCC, asking for an investigation into the competitive and economic impact of the decision on consumers. Verizon noted that consumers can avoid the early termination fees by purchasing smartphones without Verizon subsidies.

United Kingdom Proposes Mandatory Surveillance of Social Networks, Chat Rooms, and Video Games

On November 9, the BBC reported the United Kingdom government has proposed that communication service providers retain records from a variety of new sources including social networks, chat rooms and online games. The move is designed to monitor the parties to and date of each online communication, but not the “actual contents of what was said.” Specific legislation has not yet been introduced, but the proposal includes compensation for the communications providers that must implement the technically challenging requirements. The government has insisted that most concerns about the proposal have only to do with the “detail of what would be done with the information.”

Posted On Nov - 14 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Constitutional Challenge to Gene Patents Survives Motion to Dismiss

By Davis Doherty – Edited by Jad Mills
Assn. for Molecular Pathology, et al. v. USPTO, et al., Case no. 09-CV-4514 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 2, 2009)
Slip Opinion (hosted by Patent Baristas)

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York denied defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiffs’ claim that patents on a human gene violate the First Amendment and Article I of the Constitution for jurisdictional issues, lack of standing, and failure to state a claim.

District Judge Sweet found that the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims challenging the validity of Myriad Genetics’ gene patents provided subject matter jurisdiction and standing to sue the United States Patent and Trademark Office because of the lack of available statutory remedies.  The plaintiffs claim that Myriad’s patents are inappropriate because they cover “products of nature”, and seek invalidation of the patents under the Constitution of the United States. Judge Sweet held that these claims met the stricter pleading standards recently announced in Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937 (2009).  In so holding, the court noted the “novel circumstances presented by this action against the USPTO”: The Patent and Trade Office is generally immune from suit due to the availability of statutory remedies for claims arising from patents. Such remedies do not provide for constitutional claims.

Ars Technica provides a brief overview of the case.  The ACLU, who represents the plaintiffs, writes in support of the decision.  Patent Baristas put forward a more skeptical view of the plaintiffs’ prospects. Patent Docs features a longer analysis of the decision. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 10 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Andrew Jacobs

Court Issues TRO Against Sales of Beatles Music “Simulation”

Ars Technica reports that on November 5, a Central District of California judge issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against BlueBeat.com, a website offering 25-cent downloads and free streaming of thousands of copyrighted songs, most notably including the entire Beatles catalog. The order is part of a suit filed on November 3 by Capitol, EMI, Priority, and Virgin Records, claiming copyright infringement and various state law violations. In its ill-received opposition to the TRO, BlueBeat asserted in part that the sound recordings it sells were not copied from the originals, but instead were “independently developed” through a “psycho-acoustic simulation” process.

New York Files Suit Against Intel

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed an antitrust lawsuit against Intel on November 4, The New York Times and The Washington Post report. The complaint focuses on Intel’s relationships with Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM, asserting that the company has used what amounts to coercion and bribery to ensure the use of its chips over those of its main competitor, Advanced Micro Devices. This is the second antitrust action taken against Intel in the U.S — the first, an FTC administrative complaint, was filed in 1998 and later settled. Since 2005, however, Intel has battled and lost antitrust disputes in the EU, Japan, and South Korea.

Anti-Net Neutrality Bill Introduced in House

On October 30, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) introduced a House bill that would ban the FCC from issuing “any regulations regarding the Internet,” PCMag.com reports. The bill came eight days after the FCC issued its proposed net neutrality rulemaking, and a week after Sen. John McCain introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Blackburn framed the bill as an effort to preserve the Internet as “the last truly open public marketplace”; supporters of FCC regulation counter that the proposed nondiscrimination rule is necessary to preserve that openness.

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

Court Suppresses Email Evidence in Bear Sterns Case
By Stuart K. Tubis – Edited by Jad Mills

U.S. v. Cioffi, et al., Case No. 08-CR-415 (FB) (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 26, 2009)
Slip Opinion (hosted by WSJ)

The Eastern District of New York granted defendant Matthew Tannin’s motion to suppress evidence obtained from his personal Gmail account. Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin were charged with conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud in connection with their roles as Bear Sterns hedge fund managers. Prosecutors obtained a warrant to search Tannin’s personal Gmail account, but the warrant failed to specify what evidence could be seized or to what crimes the evidence must relate.  After some initial difficulty, Google delivered a copy of the email account to the Government. As the Wall Street Journal reported, one email contained a comment that funds Tannin managed could “blow up.” Tannin moved to suppress this evidence on the ground that it violated the Fourth Amendment.

District Judge Block held that the warrant was facially overbroad and thus violated the Fourth Amendment. The Court reasoned that because the warrant itself was not particular as to either the items to be seized or to a particular crime, and because the affidavit was not attached or incorporated into the warrant, the warrant was unconstitutional. The court also held that the warrant did not merit a “good faith” or “inevitable discovery” exception, largely because the executing officers should have known the warrant was overbroad.

The Wall Street Journal provides a brief overview of the case. The Eric Goldman Blog also provides a summary of the case. Orin Kerr of the Volokh Conspiracy criticizes the ruling, saying that the good faith exception should have been granted since the case law was not firmly established at the time of execution. (more…)

Posted On Nov - 6 - 2009 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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