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Google Appeals Ruling that Use of Java APIs in Android Violates Oracle’s Copyrights

By Katherine Kwong– Edited by Ashish Bakshi

On October 6, Google filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the Court to rule on whether copyright protections extend to the software’s “system or method of operation,” such as application programming interfaces (APIs). Google urges the Court to overturn the Federal Circuit’s previous decision, arguing that allowing long-term copyrights on systems and methods of operations would stifle innovation and creativity.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Ariane Moss

Microsoft Tax Banned in Italy

California Responds to Data Breaches by Strengthening Privacy Laws

EU Court Rules Embedding Is Not Copyright Infringement

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Google Appeals Ruling That Use of Java APIs in Android Violates Oracle’s Copyrights

By Katherine Kwong – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

On October 6, Google filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the Court to rule on whether copyright protections extend to the software’s “system or method of operation,” such as APIs. Google urges the Court to overturn the Federal Circuit’s previous decision, arguing that allowing long-term copyrights on systems and methods of operations would stifle innovation and creativity.

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UN Report Finds Government Mass Surveillance Violates Privacy

By Olga Slobodyanyuk – Edited by Jesse Goodwin

The UN Report from the Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights found that government Internet mass surveillance violates Article 17 of the ICCPR by impinging individuals’ privacy.

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Functional Claim Elements Must Be Backed by Sufficient Structural Guidance

By Asher Lowenstein – Edited by Mengyi Wang

The Federal Circuit found that patent claim terms that offer no guidance to structure and are solely functional are means-plus-function terms and indefinite under § 112(f).

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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

Written by: Susanna Lichter
Edited by: Suzanne Van Arsdale

Security CameraHollie Toups, the first named plaintiff in Toups v. GoDaddy, was harassed for weeks after nude pictures of her appeared on the website Texxxan.com alongside her real name and a link to her Facebook profile. When Toups requested that Texxxan.com remove the pictures, she was told by the website that they could help in exchange for her credit card information.[i] Texxxan.com is a “revenge porn” or “involuntary porn” website.[ii] The website and others like it act as repositories for nude photos of individuals submitted by their former boyfriends, embittered friends, or malicious hackers. On January 18, 2013 Toups and 22 other female plaintiffs whose nude photographs appeared on the website filed a lawsuit in the District Court of Orange County, Texas against Texxxan.com, Texxxan.com’s uploaders and subscribers, and the web hosting and the Internet domain registrar giant GoDaddy.com for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.[iii] They are seeking temporary and permanent injunctions shutting down Texxxan.com, damages,[iv] and class action certification.

Texxxan.com is one of a number of websites that have emerged in recent years seeking to capitalize on the proliferation of amateur porn facilitated by the digital age, and the humiliation it causes. Some, like Texxxan.com, insert pornographic photos into dating-site-style profiles that include screenshots of or links to the person’s social media pages and real name. Others, like IsAnybodyDown?, include more invasive details such as the person’s phone number, address, school, place of work, and children’s names. Some allow people who submit content to assign the person to categories based on their age, weight, or alleged STD status, such as Your Mom’s Nudes for older women. Underscoring the fact that the postings are malicious and intend to embarrass the victim, websites like You Got Posted feature nude photos in which the person’s face is cropped out or obscured—likely the person taking or sending the image was attempting to preserve some privacy—alongside their name and pictures of their face taken from Facebook, revealing their identity. Websites like MyEx include a space for visitors to anonymously post harassing comments. Because of the breadth of information aggregated on the profiles, revenge porn pages are commonly at the top of Google search results[v] of the person’s name. (more…)

Posted On May - 28 - 2013 2 Comments READ FULL POST
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