A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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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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Amazon.com’s Search Results Generate Triable Consumer Confusion Issue

By Yaping Zhang – Edited by Henry Thomas

Last Monday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that watch manufacturer Multi Time Machine could continue pressing its trademark challenges against Amazon.com, concluding that a jury could find that Amazon had created a likelihood of consumer confusion under an “initial interest confusion” theory.

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Observing Mauna Kea’s Conflict

Written by: Aaron Frumkin

Edited by: Anton Ziajka

Believing the machinery desecrates their sacred summit and the scarce natural resources it shelters, native Hawaiians have opposed telescope development on Mauna Kea. While it seems that their beleaguered resistance to telescope development will fail yet again with the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT), this Note attempts to articulate their best arguments in hopes of properly framing the social costs associated with the great scientific and technological gains that TMT will surely provide.

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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

By Mary Schnoor — Edited by Elise Young

Photo By: Yuri SamoilovCC BY 2.0

Transcript of Oral Argument, Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l (No. 13-298)
Transcript of Oral Argument

The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank Int’l, a case with the potential to determine whether, or when, computer-implemented inventions (i.e., software) are patent-eligible subject matter. Many commentators hope the Court will use this case as an opportunity to clarify what makes an invention an “abstract idea” that is ineligible for patenting. The en banc Federal Circuit ruled that the method at issue was not eligible for a patent, but a majority could not agree on a standard for this decision. CLS Bank Int’l v. Alice Corp., 717 F.3d 1269 (Fed. Cir. 2013).

In the course of the arguments, Justice Breyer identified a “Scylla and Charybdis” the Court will have to navigate: if it is too easy to obtain a patent that simply claims “tak[ing] an idea that’s abstract and implement[ing] it on a computer,” there is a risk that “instead of having competition on price, service and better production methods, we’ll have competition on who has the best patent lawyer.” Transcript of Oral Argument at 16. On the other hand, if the bar for patent eligibility is set too high, “you rule out real inventions with computers.” Id. Commentators, like Adam Liptak of the New York Times, agree that the Supreme Court will likely rule for CLS Bank International (“CLS”) but narrowly, thus avoiding the potential invalidation of the majority of software patents and the approach urged by Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli. Id. at 44–45.

SCOTUSblog and PatentlyO analyze the oral arguments, and Patent Docs offers a review of the briefs on both sides. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 10 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Corey Omer

Icon-newsApple v. Samsung — Round 2

Last week in San Jose, California, lawyers for Apple and Samsung squared off as the second major trial between the two mobile technology giants took off. Apple seeks roughly $2 billion in damages — $40 per allegedly infringing Samsung device sold in the United States — for violation of five of its mobile software patents. Samsung claims that Apple violated two of its own patents. The last time Apple and Samsung sparred over patents, Apple secured a decisive victory, and Samsung was ordered to pay $930 million in damages. The damages order can be found here.

Brian X. Chen of the New York Times notes that many of the patented features at issue have become “mainstays on mobile devices”: unified search, slide-to-unlock, remote video transmission, and data tapping among others.

Professor Mark P. McKenna of Notre Dame has also highlighted that “Google’s been lurking in the background of all these cases because of the Android system. . . . Several people have described the initial battle between Samsung and Apple as really one between Apple and Google.” Indeed, some of the contested features were put on the Samsung devices by Google through its Android operating system, rather than by Samsung itself. Google’s Android operating system—the main competitor to Apple’s iOS—runs on more than a billion devices worldwide, and an Apple victory against Samsung could require Google to make changes to several important Android features.

Block v. eBay — Misinterpreting Terms of Service

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected a plaintiff’s stretched reading of eBay’s user agreement in Block v. Ebay, Inc., No. 12-16527 (9th Cir. Apr. 1, 2014). The court unanimously affirmed the district court’s ruling that neither of the contested provisions constitutes a promise by eBay.

The plaintiff attacked eBay’s “Automatic Bidding System”—which incrementally increases a user’s bid in response to other users’ bids until the user’s specified maximum bid is reached—as a violation of two user agreement terms. Block, slip op. at 3. First, eBay’s User Agreement states that eBay is “not involved in the actual transaction between buyers and sellers.” Id. at 5. Second, the agreement provides that “[n]o agency . . . relationship is intended or created by this Agreement.” Id. at 4.

Eric Goldman suggests that “[w]hile this case reached a good result, it offers a good cautionary tale for contract drafters–especially lawyers drafting contracts for successful online businesses whose bank accounts are like honeypots to plaintiffs’ lawyers with an insatiable appetite for someone else’s cash.”

GrubHub Goes Public

Late last Thursday, online food ordering company GrubHub (owner of food-delivery services Seamless.com and Menupages.com; NYSE: GRUB) priced its initial public offering of 7.4 million shares at $26 per share. On Friday, the shares soared, finishing the day with a 31% gain and leaving the company valued at $2.7 billion.

With 3.4 million “Active Diners” and over 28,000 affiliated restaurants paying GrubHub a commission each time a customer places an order through one of its websites, GrubHub appears to be booming. Yet not everyone is confident that GrubHub’s operating and financial conditions justify its present market valuation. Forbes’ Peter Cohan, for instance, suggests resisting “tak[ing] a bite of GrubHub’s IPO.”

Tweet Away, Turkey

Last Wednesday, Turkey’s Constitutional Court ruled that the country’s ban on Twitter violated the right to free expression, and it demanded that citizens’ access to the website be restored. Prime Minister Erdogan’s office responded on Thursday by lifting the ban, which, Gul Tuysuz and Laura Smith-Spark of CNN report “began hours after Erdogan threatened to ‘eradicate’ Twitter at a campaign rally on March 20, blaming social media for fueling anti-government rhetoric.”

On Friday, a court in Ankara also lifted a total ban on YouTube, which was imposed less than a week after the Twitter ban. The court nevertheless decided to continue to block 15 specific YouTube links. It remains unclear when access to the video streaming website will in fact be restored.

Posted On Apr - 7 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Ken Winterbottom – Edited by Husam El-Qoulaq

Photo By: DouglasCC BY 2.0

The Brazilian Chamber of Deputies passed a bill last week enshrining citizens’ rights to privacy and freedom of expression online. The groundbreaking bill, known as the Marco Civil da Internet, has been called an “Internet Bill of Rights.” The Brazilian Senate will vote on the proposed legislation this month, according to Index on Censorship.

The bill as passed represents a victory for tech juggernauts Google and Facebook, who successfully lobbied for dropping the provision that would have required them to store data collected from Brazilian citizens on servers within Brazilian territory. President Dilma Rousseff, who had been committed to the local storage requirement in the wake of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks, dropped the provision to secure passage of the rest of the bill, Bloomberg reports. Foreign companies storing and managing data on Brazilian citizens are still required to “respect Brazilian law,” but commentators have noted that this provision may be unenforceable in practice for jurisdictional reasons. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 6 - 2014 6 Comments READ FULL POST

By Michelle Goldring – Edited by Sheri Pan

Photo By: photosteve101CC BY 2.0

Capitol Records, Inc. v. MP3tunes, LLC, No. 07 Civ. 9931 (WHP) (S.D.N.Y. May 14, 2013)
Slip Opinion hosted by Justia.com

EMI was awarded $41 million last week following a jury trial that found Michael Robertson, the CEO of MP3tunes, a now defunct cloud music storage service, guilty of copyright infringement. The verdict followed a 2013 order issued by the United States District Court in the Southern District of New York that altered several previous rulings in an earlier order issued by the same court in October 2011. Capitol Records, Inc. v. MP3tunes, LLC, No. 07 Civ. 9931 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 25, 2011) at *1, Slip Opinion hosted by beckermanlegal.com. The court vacated summary judgment rulings on claims by plaintiff Capitol Records, since acquired by EMI, against MP3tunes for contributory infringement liability under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and red-flag knowledge of infringement Id. at *3–4. The court vacated the 2011 rulings after the Viacom International, Inc. v. YouTube, Inc., 676 F.3d 19 (2d. Cir. 2012) decision by the Second Circuit, which overturned part of an earlier decision central to the 2011 order. The court also denied an inducement cause of action for lack of evidence, as well as a motion for reconsideration on whether MP3Tunes infringed on EMI-owned cover art by displaying it on the service. Capitol Records at *5–6.

Ars Technica provides an overview of the order that preceded the damages trial. Reuters provides a brief overview of the order, as well as the history and arguments of the underlying case. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 5 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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How Far Can Law Enfo

By Kasey Wang – Edited by Ariane Moss State v. Rindfleisch, ...

Russia & China Cropped

Russia’s “Right

By Brittany Doyle - Edited by Ken Winterbottom The legislatures in ...

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Washington Appeals C

By Leonidas Angelakos – Edited by Olga Slobodyanyuk Thomson v. Doe, ...

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Amazon.com’s Searc

By Yaping Zhang – Edited by Henry Thomas On July 6, ...

Photo By: Jeff Ruane - CC BY 2.0

Observing Mauna Kea'

Written by: Aaron Frumkin Edited by: Anton Ziajka I.     Introduction Perched quietly atop ...