A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Olga Slobodyanyuk

ICANN responds to terrorism victims by claiming domain names are not property

D.C. District Court rules that FOIA requests apply to officials’ personal email accounts

Class-action lawsuit brought against ExamSoft  in Illinois

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Federal Circuit Applies Alice to Deny Subject Matter Eligibility of Digital Imaging Patent

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang

In Digitech Image Technologies, the Federal Circuit embraced the opportunity to apply the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Alice to resolve a question of subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. §101. The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment on appeal, invalidating Digitech’s patent claims because they were directed to intangible information and abstract ideas.

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Unlocking Cell Phones Made Legal through Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Insue Kim

Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act allows consumers to unlock their cell phones when changing service providers, but the underlying issue of “circumvention” may have broader implications for other consumer devices and industries that increasingly rely on software.

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SDNY Magistrate Grants Government Search Warrant for Full Access to Suspect’s Gmail Account in Criminal Investigation

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Travis West

In an opinion that conflicts with decisions from the DC District Court and the District of Kansas, a SDNY magistrate granted the government’s search warrant for full access to a criminal investigation suspect’s Gmail account.

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Creating full-text searchable database of copyrighted works is “fair use”
By Yixuan Long- Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

In a unanimous opinion delivered by Judge Parker, the Second Circuit held that under the fair use doctrine universities and research libraries are allowed to create full‐text searchable databases of copyrighted works and provide such works in formats accessible to those with disabilities. The court also decided that the evidence was insufficient to decide whether the plaintiffs had standing to bring a claim regarding storage of digital copies for preservation purposes.

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Timelines, Inc. v. Facebook, Inc.
By Ashish Bakshi – Edited by Dorothy Du

Timelines, Inc. v. Facebook, Inc., No. 11-cv-6867 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 1, 2013)
Memorandum Opinion and Order (hosted by Justia.com)

Photo By: Robert ScobleCC BY 2.0

Facebook, Inc. (“Facebook”) lost its bid for a quick end to a trademark infringement suit filed by Timelines, Inc. (“Timelines”) over the social networking giant’s use of the term “timeline.” The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied Facebook’s motion for summary judgment on each of Timelines’ claims and its own counterclaims. The court held that Facebook failed to show as a matter of law that Timelines’ trademark for “timeline” was generic or merely descriptive or , if the trademark were valid, that Facebook’s use of the term constituted fair use. A jury trial will commence on April 22.

PCWorld and Bloomberg provide overviews of the case. (more…)

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

By Jessica Vosgerchian

Flash DigestPhishing Attack Used to Steal Bitcoins

Ars Technica reported April 11 that at least one Bitcoin trader was robbed of Bitcoins by a phishing attack in a Bitcoin-trading forum hosted by Bitcoin exchange MT.Gox. The attacker posted an announcement that MT.Gox would start handling exchanges of another online currency, Litecoins, and included a link to a supposed live chat on the topic. People who clicked through were prompted to download a forged Adobe updater that contained a remote administration tool and keylogger, allowing the attacker to collect victims’ MT.Gox credentials and access their Bitcoin accounts.

Court Documents Reveal FBI Cellphone Surveillance Tool and Verizon’s Involvement

The FBI prompted Verizon to reprogram a tax fraud suspect’s air card so that the FBI could track him, according to documents released in the case against Daniel David Rigmaiden, who is accused of leading a $4 million tax fraud operation. Wired reported April 9 that Rigmaiden accused Verizon of remotely reconfiguring his air card so the FBI could silently call it and receive pings of his location to a fake cell site, or stingray, that it was using. Air cards, which are plugged into computers to connect them to wireless internet provided by cellular providers, cannot normally receive calls. Rigmaiden also asserts that Verizon altered the air card so that it would accept the FBI’s stingray and prioritize it over other cell sites. In the past, the government has argued that it does not need probable cause warrants to use stingrays because they don’t collect phone or text communications.

Google Introduced New Tool for Managing Digital Afterlife

Google announced on April 12 a new tool that will allow users to specify what they want to happen to the contents of their Google accounts after they die. Users can either order their accounts deleted or grant access to a beneficiary. The tool will activate once accounts are inactive for a designated amount of time and the user fails to respond to a text and email. The New York Times Bits blog notes that Google introduced the “digital will” feature at a time when states have begun to pass laws on the fate of online accounts belonging to the dead.

Lithuania Monitors Suspected Tax Fraud with Google Maps Street View

Lithuanian tax authorities have started to use Google Maps Street View to investigate possible tax fraud, the AP reported April 11. The free Internet service only premiered in Lithuania earlier this year, but tax inspectors seized the opportunity to inexpensively tour the streets of major cities like Vilnius in search of signs of tax dodging. Through this method, the Lithuanian government identified one hundred homeowners and thirty companies that it suspects of cheating on taxes, based on suspicious activity like construction that has not been reported. After inspectors found signs of tax fraud through Google Maps, they would follow up with an actual visit to inspect the premises.

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

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
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Flash Digest: News i

By Olga Slobodyanyuk ICANN responds to terrorism victims by claiming domain ...

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Federal Circuit Appl

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