A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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ITC’s review of an ALJ’s order was not procedurally sound
By Mengyi Wang – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit unanimously vacated and remanded a decision of the International Trade Commission (“ITC”), finding that the ITC exceeded its authority in reviewing an administrative law judge’s (“ALJ”) order denying a motion for termination. In so holding, the Court rejected the ITC’s attempt to characterize the ALJ’s decision as an initial determination, which would be subject to review.

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Facebook’s experiment of emotional contagion raises concerns
By Jenny Choi – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

On June 17, 2014, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences released a study in which Facebook reduced positive and negative posts on News Feeds to observe any changes in the participants’ posts to test whether emotional states are contagious through verbal expressions. Many have criticized Facebook for the experiment,  finding that Facebook has deceived its users, violated past Consent Orders, and stretched the users’ terms of service agreements too far.

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Georgia Supreme Court Takes Chan v. Ellis Appeal to Redefine First Amendment Right on the Internet
By Yixuan Long – Edited by Emma Winer

The Georgia Court of Appeals ordered the appeal in Ellis v. Chan be transferred to the Georgia Supreme Court. Chan, an interactive website owner, appealed the trial court’s permanent protective order, which commanded him to take down more than 2000 posts on his website, and forbade him from coming within 1000 yards of Ellis. The Court of Appeals decided that the case raised significant constitutional issues regarding the First Amendment right on the internet.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Ken Winterbottom

Access to nude photos is a ‘perk’ of working at the NSA, Snowden says

Record label slams YouTube star with copyright infringement suit

Study shows women are still underrepresented among technology leaders

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SDNY Holds Bitcoins Fall Under Purview of Federal Money Laundering Statute

By Amanda Liverzani  Edited by Mengyi Wang

The debate surrounding the legal status of Bitcoins continued to heat up, as the Southern District of New York weighed in on whether the virtual currency could be used to launder money under 18 U.S.C. §1956(h). In a July 9, 2014 opinion penned by Judge Forrest in United States v. Ulbricht, the court held that exchanges involving Bitcoins constitute “financial transactions” for purposes of the money laundering statute, noting that “[a]ny other reading would—in light of Bitcoins’ sole raison d’etre—be nonsensical.”

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G.C. v. Owensboro Public Schools
By Michelle Sohn– Edited by Sarah Jeong

G.C. v. Owensboro Public Schools, No. 11-6476, (6th Cir. Mar. 28, 2013)
Slip Opinion

In a 2-1 decision, the Sixth Circuit reversed the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. The lower court had granted summary judgment for Owensboro, holding that the school’s search of a student’s cell phone did not violate the Fourth Amendment.

The Sixth Circuit held that the school’s search of G.C.’s cell phone was an unreasonable search and seizure. In so holding, the court stated that despite the school’s knowledge of G.C.’s prior behavioral problems, school officials had no specific reason at the time of the search to believe that he was engaging in an unlawful activity. Although using a cell phone in class contravened the school’s policy, “using a cell phone on school grounds [did] not automatically trigger an essentially unlimited right enabling a school official to search any content stored on the phone.” G.C.,slip op. at 13.

EducationWeek provides a thorough analysis of the Fourth Amendment issue. The New York Times editorial board lauded the decision, writing that the Sixth Circuit “correctly ruled” and “wisely interpreted” the scope of a reasonable search as applied to students. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 13 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

WNET, Thirteen v. Aereo, Inc.
By Natalie Kim – Edited by Samantha Rothberg

WNET, Thirteen v. Aereo, Inc. 12-2786-cv, 12-2807-cv (2d Cir. Apr. 1, 2013)
Slip opinion

Last Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the Southern District of New York’s July 2012 denial of a preliminary injunction motion filed against Aereo by several broadcast TV networks. Aereo is an Internet-based streaming service that allows users to watch broadcast TV shows live or record them for future viewing. A group of broadcast networks, including Fox and Univision, sued Aereo for allegedly violating their public performance rights under § 106(4) of the Copyright Act and demanded a preliminary injunction to prevent Aereo from continued operation. Aereo, slip op. at 5

In a 2–1 decision, the Second Circuit applied its own precedent, Cartoon Network LP, LLLP v. CSC Holdings, Inc., 536 F.3d 121 (2d Cir. 2008) (“Cablevision”), to find that Aereo did not infringe plaintiffs’ copyright and therefore no preliminary injunction was warranted. Aereo, slip op. at 32–35.

The New York Times summarizes the holding, giving a pessimistic outlook on the broadcasters’ prospects of rooting out Aereo and other like services. TVNewsCheck takes a spirited position against the district court’s July 2012 ruling, warning of the “havoc this travesty will wreak.” Aereo released a statement regarding the decision. (more…)

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

By Craig Fratrik

Flash DigestGoogle Challenges FBI’s National Security Letters Process for Requesting Information

Google filed a petition to set aside a request for user data by the FBI. The case is in front of U.S. District Judge Susan Illston, who two weeks prior ruled that the associated gag order accompanying national security letters (“NSL”), which the FBI uses to request user data, rendered them unconstitutional (previously reported by the Digest). Judge Illston stayed that ruling for ninety days, and allowed the documents in Google’s case to be sealed pursuant to the the requirement of the statute under which the FBI makes the requests by sending national security letters (NSLs). Nevertheless, Google’s petition is a further challenge to the use of NSLs.  Bloomberg broke the story. Ars Technica and the Washington Post report as well.

Rackspace Sues “Patent Troll” For Breaking Forbearance Agreement

On its blog, Rackspace explained its lawsuit against IP Navigation Group (IP Nav), who they called “the most notorious patent troll in America.” They claim that IP Nav violated a mutual forbearance agreement to give 30 days notice of a lawsuit that the two had negotiated in 2010. Rackspace seems eager to take a stand against patent trolls, claiming that they have seen a “500 percent spike since 2010 in [their] legal spend.” Ars Technica provides some more background about IP Nav.

California Bill Would Require Companies to Provide Tracked Personal Information

California Assembly Member Bonnie Lowenthal introduced the “Right to Know Act of 2013,” (AB-1291), which would require businesses to provide customers’ personal information upon request. Many have noted that this bill would move customers’ rights to request such data closer to those possessed by European citizens (e.g., Wall Street Journal, EFF, The Verge). The bill is supported by both the EFF and the ACLU of Northern California. The Wall Street Journal‘s coverage highlights the industry backlash.

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

Florida v. Jardines
By Mary Grinman – Edited by Geng Chen

Florida v. Jardines, No. 11-564 (U.S. Mar. 26, 2013)
Slip opinion

Photo By: Charlie KaijoCC BY 2.0

In a 5–4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the Supreme Court of Florida, which had held that the use of a trained narcotics dog to inspect the area immediately surrounding Joelis Jardines’s home, including his porch, constituted a Fourth Amendment “search.”

Justice Scalia’s majority opinion held that using drug-sniffing dogs in the area immediately surrounding a home was a search within the original meaning of the Fourth Amendment because the Government physically intruded onto the constitutionally protected “curtilage” of the home. See Jardines, slip op. at 9–10.  Although some intrusion onto curtilage is permissible, the Government’s purpose “to engage in conduct not explicitly or implicitly permitted by the homeowner,” id. at 3–4, rendered this intrusion unlawful. The Court found it unnecessary to decide whether Jardines had a reasonable expectation of privacy under Katz v. United States because this was a much more fundamental Fourth Amendment case. Id. at 9.

SCOTUSblog presents a concise summary of the opinion. Forbes questions whether the decision’s focus on property rights lays groundwork for an attempt to overrule Katz. The Cato Institute, one of the amici in this case, applauds Justice Kagan’s concurrence for focusing on the specialized nature of the drug-sniffing dog, but regrets the use of the “reasonable expectation of privacy test.” (more…)

Posted On Apr - 4 - 2013 1 Comment READ FULL POST

FTC v. Actavis, Inc.
By Suzanne Van Arsdale – Edited by Jennifer Wong

FTC v. Actavis, Inc., No. 12-416 (U.S. Mar. 25, 2013)
Transcript of Oral Argument

Photo By: e-Magine ArtCC BY 2.0

On Monday, March 25, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in FTC v. Actavis, Inc., to determine the legality, under antitrust laws, of patent litigation settlements made by the maker of a brand-name drug to the maker of a generic competitor to keep the generic off the market temporarily, known as a “reverse payment agreement” or “pay for delay.”

The FTC has been opposed to this type of deal for years, but the Eleventh Circuit and other circuits have held such settlements per se lawful unless the underlying litigation was a sham or obtained by fraud. In 2012 the Third Circuit held reverse payments presumptively anticompetitive and unlawful in the K-Dur opinion (previously covered by the Digest). In Re K-Dur Antitrust Litigation, 686 F.3d 197 (3d Cir. 2012).

SCOTUSblog, Patently-O, the New York Times, and the Washington Post have further coverage. SCOTUSblog also has information about the case’s background. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 3 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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ITC’s review of an

ITC’s review of an ALJ’s order was not procedurally sound By ...

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Facebook’s experim

Facebook’s experiment of emotional contagion raises concerns By Jenny Choi – ...

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Georgia Supreme Cour

Georgia Supreme Court Takes Chan v. Ellis Appeal to Redefine ...

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Flash Digest: News i

By Ken Winterbottom Access to nude photos is a ‘perk’ of ...

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SDNY Holds Bitcoins

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang United States v. Ulbricht, ...