A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Privacy Concerns in the Sharing Economy: The Case of Uber 

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim

Recent revelations about Uber’s disconcerting use of personal user information have exposed the numerous weaknesses in Uber’s Privacy Policy. The lack of regulation in the area, coupled with the sensitive nature of personal information gathered by Uber, makes the issue one requiring immediate attention of policy makers.

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San Francisco Court Considers Google’s Search and Ad Services Free Speech

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas

A San Francisco court dismissed a lawsuit against Google, treating Google’s search and advertisement services as constitutionally protected free speech. The lawsuit alleged an antitrust violation based on unfavorable treatment of a website in Google’s search results, and on the withdrawal of third-party advertisement from the website. In throwing out the lawsuit, the court applied California’s “anti-SLAPP” law, which allows quick dismissal of lawsuits against acts protected as free speech.

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EU Unitary Patent System Challenge Unsustainable: Advocate General

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union has rendered an opinion on Spain’s challenges to regulations implementing the European Unitary Patent System. The Advocate General opines that the challenges must be dismissed as the system is intended to provide genuine benefit in terms of uniformity and integration, and safeguard the principle of legal certainty, while the choice of languages reduces translation costs considerably.

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California Sex Offender Internet Identification Law Held Unenforceable

By Jesse Goodwin – Edited by Michael Shammas

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court ruling granting a preliminary injunction prohibiting of the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (“CASE”) Act. In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel held that requiring sex offenders provide written notice of “any and all Internet identifiers” within 24 hours to the police likely imposed an unconstitutional burden on protected speech.

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Congress Fails to Pass Act Limiting Collection of Phone Metadata

By Henry Thomas – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

The Senate failed to reach closure and bring the USA FREEDOM Act to a vote. The Act would have extended provisions of the Patriot Act, but would have sharply curtailed the executive’s authority to collect phone conversation metadata. While the bill had broad popular support, the vote failed largely along party lines, passing the onus of drafting and approving a new bill onto the next congressional session.

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United States v. Moalin
By Anton Ziajka – Edited by Elise Young

United States v. Moalin, 10-CR-4246 (JM) (S.D. Cal. filed Oct. 22, 2010)
Defendants’ Joint Motion for a New Trial and Prosecution’s Response and Opposition hosted by Ars Technica

Photo By: jeffschulerCC BY 2.0

Basaaly Moalin, a Somali immigrant who earlier this year was convicted of conspiring to provide material support to the terrorist group al-Shabaab, filed a motion for a new trial last month. Moalin based his motion upon facts that surfaced during congressional hearings held in response to Edward Snowden’s release of information about the U.S. government’s electronic surveillance programs. Joint Motion for a New Trial at 1, Moalin (“Motion”). The government filed its response and opposition on September 30.

U-T San Diego reports on Moalin’s conviction and motion for a new trial. Slate and Ars Technica provide analysis of the case and its potential implications. The Washington Post reports on the FBI and NSA’s disclosures about the NSA’s surveillance of Moalin. JOLT Digest has previously reported on the surveillance leaks and related litigation. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 20 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Delfi AS v. Estonia
By Jennifer Garnett – Edited by Elise Young

Delfi AS v. Estonia, no. 64569/09, Eur. Ct. H.R. (October 10, 2013)
Judgment

Photo By: Eugene RegisCC BY 2.0

The European Court of Human Rights  (“ECHR”) upheld Estonian court rulings that Delfi, an online news portal in Estonia, was liable for defamatory comments posted by its users. Delfi AS v. Estonia, no. 64569/09, ¶¶7, 94, Eur. Ct. H.R. (October 10, 2013). Delfi was fined 5,000 kroons (approximately $426) in damages. Id. at ¶23. The ECHR affirmed the finding that Delfi could be held liable as a “publisher” of the work, id. at ¶50, and held that the decisions represented a “justified and proportionate” restriction on Delfi’s freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (“Convention”). Id. at ¶94. In so holding, the ECHR noted that Delfi was “expected to exercise a degree of caution” in monitoring comments on predictably controversial articles. Id. at ¶86. The ECHR further held that it was both practical and reasonable to hold Delfi liable, as the actual authors of the comments were anonymous and Delfi derived a commercial benefit from allowing its users to comment. Id. at ¶¶91, 93. The decision, however, may still be appealed.

Index, Forbes, and the International Business Times, strongly criticize the case, arguing that the decision departs from the traditional approach to liability for anonymous comments, and that the result could have far-reaching implications for Internet liability and the freedom of anonymity. Inforrm’s Blog features a thorough and critical analysis of the Court’s decision. The ECHR’s press release may be found here. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 19 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Mark Verstraete

Icon-newsMassachusetts District Court Denies Motion For Preliminary Injunction against Aereo

The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts denied a motion for preliminary injunction against Aereo, Inc. (“Aereo”), a company that captures television broadcast signals with individualized antennas and streams the broadcasts to paying subscribers. Hearst Stations Inc. v. Aereo, Inc., No. 13-cv-11649, at 3 (D. Mass. October 8, 2013). Hearst Stations Inc. (“Hearst”) claimed that use of Aereo’s technology directly infringes on exclusive rights guaranteed to Hearst as copyright holder under 17 U.S.C §106. In denying the motion, the court assessed the likelihood of Hearst succeeding on the merits and the likelihood of Hearst suffering irreparable damage without injunctive relief (Hearst, No. 13-cv-11649 at 8). The analysis of Hearst’s success on the merits focused predominately on whether Aereo “perform[ed] the copyrighted [audiovisual] work publicly,” a right exclusively reserved for the copyright holder. Id. at 9. The court reasoned that Aereo’s activities did not constitute a “public performance” because Aereo’s manner of transmitting TV signals creates “copies unique to each user and only at the user’s request.” Id. at 11. The court conceded that it was possible that Hearst could experience irreparable harm but concluded that the harm, if it did occur, would most likely materialize after the litigation and that demonstrating the potential for harm does not outweigh Hearst’s failure to show likelihood of success on the merits. Id. at 18. JOLT Digest covered earlier disputes involving Aereo, including the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s affirming the denial of a preliminary injunction against Aereo brought by several broadcast TV networks. ArsTechnica provides further coverage.

Airbnb Responds to Subpoena from New York Attorney General

Airbnb, Inc. (“Airbnb”), a company that provides an online platform for connecting “Hosts” that seek to rent their accommodations to “Guests” seeking accommodations, responded to a subpoena demanding information about 15,000 of its New York Hosts to determine if the Hosts’ practices violated New York laws regulating rental agreements and taxes. Airbnb, Inc. v. Schneiderman, Memorandum of Law in Support of the Verified Petition, at 1 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. October 9, 2013) (Hosted by ArsTechnica).  Airbnb contends that the subpoena implicates serious privacy concerns because it is overly broad. Id. at 4. That is, Hosts that are “not subject to the laws” or “are exempt from the tax scheme” may fall within the scope of the requested information. Id. at 2. Airbnb also pushed back on the New York housing laws themselves by claiming that they are inherently vague and thus fail to give fair notice. Id. at 6.

Delaware District Court Dismisses Class Action Suit Against Google Regarding Personally Identifiable Information

A federal judge dismissed a class action suit against Google because the plaintiffs had failed to show “an injury in fact” and thus lacked standing to bring the suit. In Re: Google Inc. Cookie Placement Consumer Privacy Litigation, No. 12-md-02358-SLR (D. Del. October 9, 2013) (Hosted by The Am Law Daily). The claim against Google arose from its practice of embedding advertisements with code that deceives Apple Safari and Internet Explorer into accepting third-party cookies. Id. at 1. The plaintiffs claim that the manipulation of an Internet browser into accepting cookies infringes on their economic interests – constituting an injury in fact – because it provides the defendants with the plaintiffs’ valuable information without paying for it. Id. at 4. The plaintiffs supported the idea that their personal information is economically valuable because it can be sold directly to advertisers. Id. at 5. The court reasoned that, although the plaintiffs demonstrated that personal data has value, they failed to show that their ability to monetize their data “has been diminished or lost by virtue of Google’s previous collection of it.” Id. at 6-7. Thus, the plaintiffs failed to allege an injury-in-fact and lacked Article III standing. TechCrunch contextualizes the decision within the larger Federal Trade Commission investigation.

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

By Travis West – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

Photo By: Robson#CC BY 2.0

The National Security Agency (“NSA”) has developed techniques to circumvent the anonymity offered by the Tor network. Tor is a service that anonymizes users’ Internet traffic by routing requests to websites and other services through multiple servers, making it extremely difficult to track. While the NSA can track some Tor users, the agency has been unable to crack the underlying technology and instead relies on tools like browser exploits and its direct access to the Internet backbone to intercept website requests.

The Guardian and The Washington Post published the original stories based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Bruce Schneier of The Guardian provided a technical analysis of the NSA’s techniques. Ars Technica and Time Techland provided additional coverage. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 12 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Société des Produits Nestlé S.A. v. Cadbury UK Ltd.
By Anton Ziajka – Edited by Abhilasha Nautiyal

Société des Produits Nestlé S.A. v. Cadbury UK Ltd., [2013] EWCA (Civ) 1174 (October 04, 2013)
Judgment hosted by BAILII

Britain’s Court of Appeal (Civil Division) reversed an order of the High Court of Justice (Chancery Division) that had approved for registration Cadbury UK Ltd.’s (“Cadbury”) Trade Mark application No. 2 376 879 (“the ‘879 application”) for a specific shade of purple to be used on the packaging of its chocolate products. The Court of Appeal held that Cadbury’s color mark did not qualify as a trade mark under the Trade Marks Directive 2008/95 (“the Directive”). 2008 O.J. (L 299) 25, 26 (EC). The Court held that “an application to register a trade mark must satisfy three conditions …: (i) there must be a sign; (ii) it must be capable of graphical representation; [and] (iii) it must be capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings.” Société des Produits Nestlé S.A. v. Cadbury UK Ltd., [2013] EWCA (Civ) 1174 at ¶15. The Court concluded that Cadbury’s impugned mark did not constitute “a sign” that is “graphically represented” and thus failed to satisfy conditions (i) and (ii) of Article 2 of the Directive. Id. at ¶51. To allow registration of a trademark with such vagueness, the Court noted, would offend both “the principle[s] of certainty…[and] of fairness,” in part because “competitors… would not be able to tell from inspecting the register the full scope and extent of the registration.” Id. at ¶52.

The Guardian and World Intellectual Property Review provide coverage of the decision. The Washington Post compares the decision with several prominent United States cases involving color trade marks. The IPKat provides further analysis and commentary on the case and related decisions. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 11 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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Privacy Concerns in

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim Following scandals earlier ...

free-speech

San Francisco Court

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas S. Louis Martin ...

European union concept, digital illustration.

EU Unitary Patent Sy

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi Advocate General’s Opinion ...

computer-typing1

California Sex Offen

By Jesse Goodwin – Edited by Michael Shammas Doe v. Harris, ...

nsa-tracking-phone-records-325x337

Congress Fails to Pa

By Henry Thomas – Edited by Paulius Jurcys USA FREEDOM Act ...