A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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The FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules on Protecting and Promoting Open Internet

By Shuli Wang – Edited by Yaping Zhang

Two weeks after voting on regulating broadband Internet service as a public utility, on March 12, the Federal Communications Commission (”FCC”) released a document (the FCC Order and Rules) on net neutrality, which reclassifies high-speed Internet as a telecommunications service rather than an information service, thus subjecting Internet service providers (ISPs) as common carrier to regulations under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. The purpose of the new rules is to ensure the free flow of bits through the web without paid-for priority lanes and blocking or throttling of any web content.

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White House releases administration discussion draft for Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2015

By Lan Du – Edited by Katherine Kwong

On February 27, 2015, President Obama released an administration draft of a proposed Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act. The proposed bill’s stated purpose is to “establish baseline protections for individual privacy in the commercial arena and to foster timely, flexible implementations of these protections through enforceable codes of conduct developed by diverse stakeholders.”

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Patrick Gallagher

Federal Circuit Affirms Denial of AT&T Motion to Extend or Re-open Filing Period for Appeal in Patent Infringement Suit

In Patent Suit Against Apple, Federal Circuit Affirms in Part, Reverses in Part

Federal Circuit Reverses DNA Sequencing Technology Patent Construction

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Wikimedia Sues NSA for Upstream Surveillance

By Paulius Jurcys – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

Wikimedia Foundation filed a suit against the NSA challenging the constitutionality of upstream surveillance programs, which allow the NSA to communicate by Americans and persons abroad. The claim, which was joined by eight other human rights organizations, challenges NSA’s actions as violations of the First and Fourth Amendments of the US Constitution.

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Florida Considers a Bill Outlawing Anonymous Websites

By Paulius Jurcys – Edited by Anton Ziajka

Florida lawmakers are considering a bill, the “True Origin of Digital Goods Act,”  that would require owners and operators of websites that disseminate “commercial” recordings or audiovisual works to prominently disclose their true names, physical addresses, and telephone numbers or email addresses on the websites. The bill extends to all websites that deal “in substantial part” in disseminating such recordings or audiovisual works, “directly or indirectly,” to Florida consumers.

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By Mengyi Wang – Edited by Elise Young

Ring & Pinion Service Inc. v. ARB Corporation Ltd., No. 2013-1238 (Fed. Cir. Feb. 19, 2014)
Slip Opinion

Photo By: Tristan FerneCC BY 2.0

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington’s grant of summary judgment, finding that Ring & Pinion Service Inc.’s (“R&P”) Ziplocker product did not infringe ARB Corporation Ltd.’s (“ARB”) U.S. Patent No. 5,591,098 (“the ’098 patent”). Ring & Pinion Service Inc., slip op. at 2.

In a unanimous opinion, the Federal Circuit agreed with the lower court that the foreseeability of a cylinder equivalent at the time the patent was filed did not limit the application of the doctrine of equivalents. The doctrine of equivalents accommodates future changes in technology, thus allowing for the continued relevance of a patent despite changes in language or concepts. At issue in this case was whether foreseeability at the time the patent was filed prevented the application of the doctrine of equivalents, and therefore might support a finding a non-infringement. In addition to finding that foreseeability did not limit the doctrine, the court determined that, the district court improperly applied the doctrine of claim vitiation in finding non-infringement. Id. at 8–9.

Patently-O summarizes the decision and comments on the underlying policy rationales. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 27 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Mark Verstraete – Edited by Michael Shammas

Photo By: Nate GriggCC BY 2.0

On February 12, 2014, Senators Rockefeller (D-WV) and Markey (D-MA) introduced a bill that would require data brokers—companies that collect and sell consumer information to third parties—to be more transparent about their practices. The Data Broker Accountability and Transparency Act, S. __, 113th Cong. (Feb. 12, 2014) (“DATA Act“), represents an attempt to empower consumers to regain some control over their personal information.

In reality, the transparency and control offered by the DATA Act is limited. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 27 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Zoe Bedell – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

Brief for Appellants, Fraley v. Facebook, Inc., o. 13-16918 (9th Cir. Feb. 13, 2014)
Schachter Objector Appeal hosted by Citizen.org

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In 2011, a group of Facebook users filed a class action lawsuit against the company seeking relief from Facebook’s practice of using the names and images of its users in sponsor advertisements without those users’ consent. On February 13, objectors to the proposed settlement in Fraley v. Facebook, led by the nonprofit advocacy group Public Citizen, appealed the district court’s decision, arguing that the approved settlement violated the law of multiple states in allowing Facebook to use images of minors without their parents’ consent.

Ars Technica provides an overview of the lawsuit, settlement, and appeal. The Washington Post’s analysis provides perspective on the legal issues involved. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 26 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Corey Omer

Icon-newsFacebook Acquires WhatsApp for $19 Billion

In a bold deal that Rob Lever at ABS-CBNnews.com has praised as a “savvy strategic move” and Peter Schiff at Business Insider has decried as evidence of “how dysfunctional and distorted our economy is,” Facebook acquired the instant messaging app WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash, stocks, and restricted stock units, totaling approximately 9.2% of Facebook’s net worth.

Posterity will tell whether the acquisition was brilliant or moronic but, in the mean time, Information Week provides some numbers to consider:

  • As of December 2013, WhatsApp boasted 450 million users, 72% of which are active daily.
  • Facebook is estimated to have paid $345 million per WhatsApp employee (there are only 55) or $42 per user.
  • The messaging app is presently growing at a rate of 1 million users a day. Since its founding five years ago, WhatsApp has gained users faster than any other social media site in history, including Facebook. To put this in perspective, since you started reading this post 350 new users joined WhatsApp.

Winkdex: The Bitcoin Price Index

The Winklevoss brothers, famous for their legal battle with Mark Zuckerberg over the founding of Facebook, have released a financial index—known as the Winkdex—providing a regularly updated price for Bitcoin. The shortage of stabilizing governance mechanisms and transparency tools applicable to the volatile cryptocurrency has led some, like Jeff John Roberts at GigaOm to welcome the index. Others, including Paul Vigna at the Wall Street Journal, question whether there is a real need for the Winkdex.

Nathaniel Popper at The New York Times speculates that rollout of the index indicates that the brothers’ proposed Bitcoin exchange-traded fund, the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust, is moving closer to regulatory approval. The Securities and Exchange Commission is currently reviewing the fund, the first of its kind. Release of the index is also consistent with Bitcoin’s shift into the mainstream—GigaOm reports that Bitcoin ATMs will be arriving in certain U.S. cities this month.

The FCC’s New Net Neutrality Rules

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has promised to issue a new set of rules aimed at keeping the web free and open, one month after the United States Court of the Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the agency’s prior net neutrality rules for illegally treating Internet service providers (ISPs) as regulated utilities. Verizon v. Fed. Commc’ns. Comm’n., No. 11-1355 (D.C. Cir. Jan. 14, 2014), hosted by Scribd.

Although the FCC has decided to not reclassify broadband as a public utility, the agency remains committed to deterring ISPs from charging companies (such as Amazon or Netflix) to stream their content through an Internet “express lane.” As reported by The New York Times, those championing net neutrality contend that such preferential treatment would harm smaller companies and prevent new players from competing with large and established content providers.

Relying on section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104, 110 Stat. 56 (1996) the new rules would, among other things, significantly expand the “Open Internet rules” and provide for greater case-by-case enforcement. The FCC will also closely consider preempting state laws that prevent cities and towns from offering broadband service to residents.

Posted On Feb - 24 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Insue Kim – Edited by Suzanne Van Arsdale

Memorandum from David L. Cohen, Executive Vice President of Comcast, Comcast/Time Warner Cable Announcement (Feb. 13, 2014)
Memorandum

Comcast has proposed to acquire Time Warner Cable for $45.2 billion in stock, in a merger that could have far-reaching implications for the media and communications industry. Comcast hopes that the merger will further its longstanding strategy of growing into a broadband and media powerhouse. The merger is also expected to produce synergies, reducing costs by approximately $1.5 billion a year.

The Washington Post provides context for the merger, along with voices from both sides. Wired reviews Comcast’s previous merger with NBC and discusses the potential implications of the merger, while Ars Technica looks at Comcast’s and the FCC’s options. Above The Law criticizes the merger as attempting to consolidate power to control both content and conduit across the majority of the country. (more…)

Posted On Feb - 23 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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