A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Apple Ordered to Pay $533M for Patent Infringement

By Paulius Jurcys – Edited by Saukshmya Trichi

In 2013, Smartflash filed a claim in Southern District of Texas claiming that Apple willfully infringed three of its patents related to digital copyright management, payment method as well as data storage. On February 24, 2015, in Smartflash LLC v. Apple Inc., the federal jury in state of Texas ordered Apple to pay $532.9 million for infringing a patent owned by Texas-based Smartflash Inc.

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A Computer Programmer for Megaupload Pleads Guilty to Copyright Infringement Charges

By Yaping Zhang – Edited by Jenny Choi

On February 13, 2015, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) announced that Andrus Nomm, a computer programmer for Megaupload.com, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison for copyright infringement. Kim Dotcom, a founder of the Megaupload website and a key target of this criminal prosecution and two consecutive civil lawsuits, reacted strongly to the news and sought political recourse with regard to his behaviors.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Anne Woodworth

Report Claims Facebook Privacy Policy in Violation of EU Law

FCC Preempts State Laws Limiting City-Provided Internet Service

Aereo Files Repayment Plan Following Bankruptcy Auction

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief  

By Amanda Liverzani

PTO’s Statutory Interpretation on Patent Term Adjustment Upheld

Federal Circuit Affirms Garmin Fitness Watches Do Not Infringe on Pacing Patents

Online Shopping Cart Patents Deemed Invalid in Infringement Action Against Victoria’s Secret and Avon

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Alleged mastermind behind the undercover trading platform Silk Road convicted in Manhattan court

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Katherine Kwong

On February 4, a federal jury in Manhattan rendered its verdict in the trial against Ross Ulbricht, the person allegedly in charge of the online black market platform Silk Road. The jury found Ulbricht guilty on all charges. The case is important as it represents an attempt by the government to regain control over an area of the internet where tools such as bitcoin and Tor are used to create an online space beyond the reach of the authorities.

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By Emma Winer – Edited by Sheri Pan

Photo By: Images MoneyCC BY 2.0

United States v. Penchukov, No. 11-03074 (D. Neb. July 13, 2012)
First Superseding Indictment
Complaint

On April 11, 2014, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) released a previously sealed indictment against nine alleged conspirators in an international malware scheme that stole millions of dollars from online bank accounts. First Superseding Indictment at 6, United States v. Penchukov, No. 11-03074 (D. Neb. Aug. 22, 2012). The indictment alleged that the conspirators infected thousands of business computers with the “Zeus” malware, which captured passwords, bank account numbers, and other information required to log into online banking systems. Two of the defendants, Yuriy Konovalenko and Yevhen Kulibaba, were arraigned in Nebraska federal court on Friday, after being extradited from the United Kingdom.

Ars Technica provides an overview of the case. PC Magazine, The Register, and Reuters offer additional commentary. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 18 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Paul Klein – Edited by Alex Shank

Photo By: archie4ozCC BY 2.0

Joined Cases C-292/12 and C-594/12, Digital Rights Ireland Ltd v. Minister for Commc’ns, Marine, and Natural Res., (E.C.J. Apr. 8, 2014)
Slip Opinion hosted by Scribd

In a preliminary ruling last week, the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) found to be invalid Directive 2006/24/EC (the “Directive”), which the European Parliament and of the Council had previously adopted. Slip op., at I-26. The Directive required EU members to enact laws mandating that electronic communications service providers retain user data for as long as two years. Id. at I-13. EU lawmakers created the Directive to facilitate the “investigation, detection and prosecution of serious crime,” id. at I-8, particularly organized crime and terrorism. Id. at I-7. The High Court (Ireland) and the Verfassungsgerichtshof (Austria) requested that the ECJ preliminarily rule on the Directive’s validity. Id. at I-3. Both courts have actions before them challenging the legality of national proceedings that accord with the Directive. Id.

The ECJ held that “by adopting Directive 2006/24, the EU legislature has exceeded the limits imposed by compliance with the principle of proportionality in the light of Articles 7, 8 and 52(1) of the Charter [of Fundamental Rights of the European Union].” Id. at I-26. In so holding, the court stated that Directive 2006/24 clashes “with the rights guaranteed by Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter,” and that “the fact that data are retained and subsequently used without the subscriber or registered user being informed is likely to generate in the minds of the persons concerned the feeling that their private lives are the subject of constant surveillance” Id. at I-20. The court identified three major problems with the Directive: 1) the extensive scope of data it would cause to be retained, 2) its failure to sufficiently limit authorities’ access to retained data, and 3) its failure to categorize the retained data in order to distinguish its usefulness and relevance. Id. at I-23–25. Accordingly, the Grand Chamber stated, “Directive 2006/24 entails a wide-ranging and particularly serious interference with those fundamental rights in the legal order of the EU, without such an interference being precisely circumscribed by provisions to ensure that it is actually limited to what is strictly necessary.” Id. at I-25.

Bloomberg provides an overview of and contextualizes the case, noting that the Directive was “drafted in the wake of terrorist attacks in London and Madrid . . . .” Voice of America reports that “some observers consider [the ruling] a nod to the Snowden leaks . . . .” It further notes that the court’s decision could affect trans-Atlantic commerce, as well as “the future of President Barack Obama’s proposed [National Security Agency] reforms on surveillance and data collection.” (more…)

Posted On Apr - 16 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Michael Shammas – Edited by Mary Schnoor

Photo By: Kyle NishiokaCC BY 2.0

Petition for Certiorari, Google Inc. v. Joffe, 2013 WL 6905957 (9th Cir. 2013), petition for cert. filed (No. 13-)
Petition for Certiorari hosted by Santa Clara Law Digital Commons

Disagreeing with the Ninth Circuit’s decision that Google, Inc. (“Google”) possibly violated the Wiretap Act, 18 U.S.C. § 2510 et seq., when its Street View cars collected unencrypted Wi-Fi traffic, Google has filed a petition for a writ of certiorari petitioning the Supreme Court to label its activities legal. Google believes unencrypted Wi-Fi networks should be classified as “radio communications” accessible to the public, akin to AM/FM radio, and that as such its actions were exempt under federal wiretapping law. Petition for Writ of Certiorari, Google, at 2. The case is important not only because of the liability Google could face if its petition is denied, but also because of its implications for future interpretations of the Wiretap Act.

PCWorld and Lexology review the petition. Wired provides background on Google’s Street View program, and Ars Technica recaps the regulatory and legal response. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 14 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Sheri Pan – Edited by Corey Omer

On April 3, Mozilla Corporation (“Mozilla”), a subsidiary of the non-profit Mozilla Foundation most widely known for producing the Firefox browser, announced that its CEO of less than two weeks, Brendan Eich, has resigned. The resignation followed pressure from Mozilla employees, bloggers, and developers who opposed his appointment in light of a $1000 donation that he made in 2008 in support of Proposition 8, a ballot measure that sought to ban gay marriage in California. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 13 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Emma Winer

Icon-newsThird Circuit Vacates Hacker Conviction for Improper Venue

The United States Court of the Appeals for the Third Circuit vacated the conviction and sentence of Andrew “weev” Auernheimer on Friday. United States v. Auernheimer, No. 13-1816 (3d Cir. Apr. 11, 2014), slip opinion hosted by Tor Ekeland. Mr. Auernheimer was convicted in 2012 under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act  (“CFAA”) for disclosing the personal email addresses of 140,000 iPad owners to Gawker. Auernheimer, slip op. at 3, 6. Mr. Auernheimer and a co-conspirator obtained the email addresses of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, among others, by exploiting a security flaw in the AT&T website, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Rather than addressing the issue of whether Auernheimer’s conduct constituted hacking under the CFAA, the Third Circuit panel reversed and vacated the conviction on venue grounds. Id. at 1. Mr. Auernheimer had been tried in New Jersey, the residence of 4,500 of the email address owners, rather than in Arkansas, where he resides. Id. at 6-7. The Court held that this was an improper venue for the trial, as Mr. Auernheimer had not specifically targeted New Jersey and none of the “essential conduct elements” of the crime took place in New Jersey. Id. at 10. The decision stressed the importance of maintaining constitutional protections regarding the forum in which a defendant is tried, even as the rise of the Internet complicates questions of where a crime takes place. The court stated that “as we progress technologically, we must remain mindful that cybercrimes do not happen in some metaphysical location that justifies disregarding constitutional limits on venue.” Id. at 22. According to ArsTechnica, the Justice Department will review its remaining options in the prosecution of Mr. Auernheimer. Orin Kerr, attorney for Mr. Auernheimer, provided additional commentary in The Washington Post.

French Unions and Employers Agree to Curb After-Hours Work Email

A new deal struck by French labor unions and employers limits the use of work email after the end of the work day, affecting approximately 250,000 workers in the consulting, technology and polling sectors, The New York Times reports. Although French law limits the workweek to 35 hours, the rise of technological innovations such as smart phones has put increasing pressure on employees in certain fields to be available and responsive during nighttime hours. The new agreement protects the legally mandated 11 hours of rest time for workers under French law. Under the agreement, different companies can develop their own policies to fulfill the requirement. Ars Technica notes that the German company Volkswagen previously established a similar measure, requiring the shut down of Blackberry servers during after-work hours in order to protect the leisure time of workers.

Limited Sale of Google Glass Slated For April 15

Google announced that a limited sale of Google Glass, a new wearable computer, will take place on April 15, 2014. The device, which resembles a pair of glasses, performs many of the functions of a smart phone, allowing owners to take photos, check email, and use navigational tools. So far, the technology has been available only to those invited to be early users. The one-day sale will make the technology available to the broader public, Ars Technica reports. The devices will be sold for $1,500 through the Google Glass website. As reported by The New York Times, the device has already been the source of controversy, with some lawmakers raising privacy concerns regarding the devices’ ability to covertly record people in public places. The Guardian, CNN , JOLT Digest and others have analyzed the potential privacy issues.

Posted On Apr - 13 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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