A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Aereo Struggles as Supreme Court Finds It Violated Copyright Law
By Jenny Choi – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

On June 25, 2014, in its 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against Aereo, Inc.  The U.S. Supreme Court held that Aereo violated the Copyright Act of 1976 for streaming TV shows shortly after they were broadcast without paying for the copyrighted works.  As a result, Aereo suspended its service and has struggled to find a way to re-operate its business. This decision has not come without criticism, however, as some warn this ad hoc decision could lead to uncertainty in the courts.

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DRIP Bill Expands UK’s Data Surveillance Power

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Insue Kim

House of Lords passed the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (“DRIP”) on July 17, 2014. DRIP empowers the UK government to require all companies providing internet-based services to UK customers to retain customer metadata for 12 months. It also expands the government’s ability to directly intercept phone calls and digital communications from any remote storage. Critics claim the bill goes far beyond what is necessary and its fast-track timeframe prevents meaningful discussion.

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Federal Circuit Grants Stay of Patent Infringement Litigation Until PTAB Can Complete a Post-Grant Review

By Kyle Pietari – Edited by Insue Kim

Reversing the district court’s decision, the Federal Circuit granted a stay of patent infringement litigation proceedings until the PTAB can complete a post-grant patent validity review. This was the court’s first ruling on a stay when the suit and review process were happening concurrently.

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Ninth Circuit Rejects Fox’s Request to Shut Down Dish Services, Despite Aereo Decision

By Sheri Pan – Edited by Insue Kim

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Fox’s motion for a preliminary injunction.  Fox argued that the technologies would irreparably harm Fox because they violate copyright laws, but the Ninth Circuit ruled that the district court did not err in finding that the harm alleged by Fox was speculative, noting that Fox had failed to present evidence documenting such harm.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Patrick Gutierrez

Senate passes bill to make cell phone unlocking legal

ABA urges lawyers to stop pursuing file sharing lawsuits

FBI cautions that driverless cars may be used to assist criminal behavior

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By Samantha Rothberg

Icon-newsChinese National Sentenced to 12 Years in U.S. Prison for Selling Pirated Software

Chinese citizen Xiang Li was sentenced to 12 years in a U.S. federal prison for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and criminal copyright infringement, Bloomberg reports. Li operated a website, “Crack 99,” which sold more than $100 million worth of pirated software between 2008 and 2011. He was arrested in Saipan, a U.S. territory, after traveling there to sell software to undercover federal agents. According to prosecutors, Li is the first Chinese national to be “apprehended and prosecuted in the U.S. for cybercrimes he engaged in entirely from China.”

Songwriters’ Rights Group BMI Sues Pandora Over Fee Dispute

Broadcast Music Inc. (“BMI”), an organization that collects royalties on behalf of music publishers and songwriters when their works are played in public, filed suit in federal court against Pandora, the Internet radio service, the Wall Street Journal reports. Earlier this week, Pandora purchased a small radio station in South Dakota and argued that this move entitles it to pay BMI the reduced royalty fees that traditional radio broadcasters pay. BMI decried Pandora’s move as a “brazen effort to artificially drive down its license fees.” The organization sued for a judicial declaration of the rates that Pandora must pay when it plays an artist’s song.

Google Argues Wi-FI is “Radio Signal” in Street View Case

Google urged the Ninth Circuit to overrule a judge’s 2011 finding that its Street View program had violated the federal Wiretap Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2510–2522, by collecting private data over unencrypted wi-fi signals, Bloomberg reports. Google argues that transmissions over an open wi-fi signal are equivalent to public radio transmissions, and the interception of a radio transmission or any “form of electronic communication readily accessible to the general public” is not illegal under the Wiretap Act. Attorney Elizabeth Cabraser, who represents the consumers who won the initial ruling, argued that the Wiretap Act exception was intended to protect ham radios used for communicating over long distances, and not wi-fi networks, which are broadcast over very short distances. She urged the court to reject Google’s “attempt to create a loophole to serve its own purposes.”

New York Aims to Crack Down on 3D Gun Printing

A New York city councilman introduced legislation on Wednesday that would make it illegal for anyone other than a licensed gunsmith to manufacture guns using a 3D printer, reports CNET. The bill would require legal manufacturers to register the guns with police within 72 hours of creation. The New York State Legislature and U.S. Congress have both recently introduced similar legislation, and a California state senator has announced plans to do the same. The surge in legislation stems from the worry that untraceable, undetectable plastic guns could be anonymously printed by anyone with a 3D printer and the necessary software. Last month, that vision took a step closer to reality when the non-profit organization Defense Distributed announced that it had created the world’s first 3D-printed handgun, the “Liberator.”

Posted On Jun - 16 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Leaked Surveillance Programs Reveal Large-Scale Data Collection

By Michelle Sohn – Edited by Katie Mullen

Photo By: darkuncleCC BY 2.0

Last week, the Guardian revealed two top-secret U.S. programs—Verizon metadata collection and PRISM—that allow the National Security Agency (“NSA”) to conduct domestic surveillance on a massive and unprecedented scale. The first program was conducted with an order from the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The court order required Verizon to provide the NSA with all “telephony metadata” created by Verizon for communications within the U.S. as well as between the U.S. and abroad. The order specified a three month period, but could have been one of several similar orders. Metadata includes the phone numbers, location, and duration of Verizon users’ calls, but not the actual content of conversations. The order also prohibited Verizon from disclosing any information about this program or the order’s existence. The second program, PRISM, allows the government direct access to participating companies’ servers. A wide range of data can be culled from the servers, including email, video and voice chat, and file transfers. Major companies allegedly participating in Prism include Yahoo, Facebook, Skype, and Google. Spokespersons from these companies have denied participation. PRISM can target user communications outside the U.S. and communications involving people outside the U.S.

NPR summarized an interview on the two surveillance programs with former NSA director, General Michael Hayden, who largely praised the program as “an accurate reflection of balancing our security and our privacy.” The New Yorker criticized the court-ordered metadata collection program, declaring, “The problem, then, is not just secrecy, but meta-secrecy. The government let the public think that certain words mean one thing, while operating on the idea that they mean another.” Congress has initiated new oversight proceedings on the programs. (more…)

Posted On Jun - 15 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Hart v. Electronic Arts, Inc.
By Samantha Rothberg – Edited by Alex Shank

Hart v. Electronic Arts, Inc., No.  11–3750 (3d Cir. May 21, 2013)
Slip opinion

In a 2-1 opinion authored by Judge Joseph A. Greenaway, Jr., the court held that former college athlete Ryan Hart’s interest in protecting his identity outweighed EA’s First Amendment rights. Hart, slip op. at 61. In determining how to strike the proper balance between the right of publicity and the First Amendment, the court adopted the “transformative use” test, which has its roots in copyright law. Id. at 51.

Reuters provides an overview of the case and discusses the implications for a similar case pending in the Ninth Circuit. The Electronic Frontier Foundation criticizes the decision for failing to protect freedom of speech and for treating the right of publicity as a form of intellectual property rather than as a more limited right to control the commercial use of one’s identity. Marc Edelman of Forbes, however, celebrates the decision as “a big win for athletes and entertainers everywhere” that will make it easier for celebrities to protect against the unlicensed use of their image by video game developers. (more…)

Posted On Jun - 10 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Trailblazing Email Privacy Bill Proposed in Texas
Mary Grinman – Edited by Natalie Kim

H.B. No. 2268

Photo By: André NattaCC BY 2.0

On May 27, 2013, the Texas State Senate and House both signed H.B. 2268. The legislation requires state law enforcement agents to secure a warrant before accessing emails and other “electronic customer data” in “electronic storage.” H.B. 2268 at 3–4. It also permits state courts to serve warrants on out-of-state service providers as long as they do “business in [Texas] under a contract . . . with a resident of [Texas], if any part of that contract . . . is to be performed in [Texas].” Id. at 9. With this requirement, the bill closes the loophole of the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which allows warrantless access to emails opened or older than 180 days. Unless Governor Rick Perry vetoes the bill by June 16, 2013, the bill will pass and go into effect on September 1.

Texas Rep. John Frullo originally authored the bill, with support from civil liberties organizations such as the Texas Electronic Privacy Coalition. Prior to the bill’s passage, the Senate amended it to allow “an authorized peace officer” to “require a provider . . . to disclose . . . information revealing the identity of customers . . . [and] information about a customer’s use of the applicable service[,] without giving subscriber or customer notice” as long as he obtained an administrative subpoena, a grand jury subpoena, a warrant, a court order, or the consent of the customer. See Senate Amendments Printing Analysis, at 5–6. The legislation is designed to “extend[] the jurisdiction of district judges by granting them privileges to issue data search warrants beyond the physical boundaries of the state for computer data searches only.” Senate Committee Report at 1.

Texas Legislature Online provides a summary of the history surrounding the bill. Ars Technica calls the bill “unprecedented,” and describes it as “the nation’s strongest email privacy bill.” RT states that the bill could be “a roadmap to updating the [federal] 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA),” which only requires a warrant for recent and unopened emails. Pub. L. No. 99-508, 100 Stat. 1848 (Oct. 21, 1986),codified at 18 U.S.C. §§2510-22, 2701-11, 3121-26. However, Bloomberg BNA reminds its readers that the federal government will retain the authority to “access older emails without a warrant.” (more…)

Posted On Jun - 8 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Flash DigestBy Katie Mullen

ITC Ruling May Bar Sales of Some Apple Products in the US

This week, the International Trade Commission found that Apple infringed a Samsung patent relating to 3G wireless technology and the capacity to transmit various services correctly at the same time, the BBC reports. This ruling may mean that some older models of the iPad and iPhone can no longer be sold in the United States. However, a spokesperson for Apple said, “Today’s decision has no impact on the availability of Apple products in the United States.” The company plans to appeal.

Child Pornography Suspect Granted Temporary Reprieve from Decrypting Hard Drive

This Tuesday, a federal judge in Wisconsin lifted a court order requiring child pornography suspect Jeffrey Feldman to decrypt his hard drives for the FBI, writes CNET. The judge gave the reprieve in response to an emergency motion by Feldman’s attorney for additional time to prove that the order would violate Feldman’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Judge Rudolph Randa temporarily lifted threats of contempt of court and jail time and asked for additional briefs on the matter from the attorneys in the case. A hearing is likely to take place in the fall.

White House Calls for Curbing Patent Troll Litigation

President Obama announced plans this week to take action against businesses that buy up patents with the sole aim of suing entities for infringement, often called “patent trolls,” the New York Times reports. The administration has called for Congress to limit lawsuits against consumers and businesses that use technology. Further, the White House proposed that judges should award attorneys’ fees to defendants who win unwarranted patent cases and would like to make it more difficult for businesses to convince the government to ban the importation of products that potentially rely on patented technology. Finally, the president plans to issue an executive order to improve training for patent examiners.

Apple and Patent Troll Suing Apple Potentially Represented by the Same Lawyer

Apple has essentially been sued by its own law firm. The company discovered that one of the lawyers for Flatworld Interactive LLC, an alleged patent troll who filed a lawsuit claiming that Apple’s touchscreen swipe technology had infringed its patent, was in fact a lawyer for one of its own preferred law firms as well, writes Ars Technica. As a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, John McAleese had access to a huge amount of Apple’s confidential data, though he was not involved in any cases involving Apple and claims not to have accessed it. At time same time, his wife was an owner of Flatworld, and he helped her draft several documents outlining and implementing the plan to file suit against Apple, or to sell the patent so others could do so.

Posted On Jun - 7 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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