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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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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

By Kathleen McGuinness

Flash DigestSupreme Court of Canada Rules That Text Message Monitoring Requires Warrant

On Saturday, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled 5-2 that the real-time police monitoring of text messages was an interception of private communications and required a hard-to-obtain wiretap authorization. R. v. TELUS Communications Co., 2013 SCC 16 (Can.). As the Globe and Mail describes, these authorizations are limited to certain serious crimes and to situations where other investigative techniques have been ineffective. Ars Technica contrasts this privacy-protective holding with the law in the United States, where courts have split over the legal protections afforded to text messaging.

Google Announces Open Patent Non-Assertion Pledge

To encourage the development of open source software, Google recently announced its new Open Patent Non-Assertion Pledge (OPN). Under this framework, Google has promised not to assert ten of its patents against open source software, subject to “defensive termination” if another entity sues them. The EFF describes the importance of these patents, one of which had already raised worries among open source developers, and discusses Google’s future proposals for similar licensing agreements designed to promote innovation. Google expects the OPN to have several benefits, including transparency, broad protection, and durability; Forbes describes these benefits in detail.

Legal Challenges to “Stingray” Surveillance Devices Continue to Grow

According to emails published on Wednesday, federal investigators have used “stingray” devices, a form of electronic surveillance, without explaining the method clearly to the judges issuing warrants. Ars Technica reports the story. As the EFF reports, “stingrays” can locate a cell phone by mimicking a phone tower, but gather large amounts of information from non-targeted users in the process. Because of this indiscriminant data gathering and the lack of effective judicial oversight, privacy organizations are concerned about the use of the devices. One case, United States v. Rigmaiden, No 08-814, 2012 WL 1038817 (D. Ariz. Mar. 28, 2012), has become the center of this legal controversy, with involvement from privacy organizations including the ACLU and EPIC. The Wall Street Journal describes the case’s history.

Posted On Apr - 2 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

UMG v. Veoh
by Pio Szamel ­– Edited by Jacob Rogers

UMG Recordings, Inc. v Veoh Networks, Inc., Nos. 09–55902, 09–56777, 10–55732 (9th Cir. Mar. 14, 2013)
Slip opinion

The Ninth Circuit affirmed the Federal District Court for the Central District of California, which had granted summary judgment finding that the streaming-video host Veoh was protected by the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) and dismissed additional infringement claims against Veoh’s investors.

On March 14, the Ninth Circuit handed down a much-delayed opinion in UMG v Veoh, rejecting Universal Music Group’s contentions that the streaming-video host Veoh was not protected by the DMCA’s safe harbor provision for online hosting providers, 17 U.S.C. §512(c). While UMG had argued that Veoh was outside the scope of the DMCA because it went beyond simple “storage at the direction of a user” by transcoding videos into common streaming formats and facilitating access to them, the court found that enabling access in this way is an essential part of web-hosting. UMG at 24-25. It also affirmed that the safe-harbor exception for actual or red-flag knowledge of infringement, 17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(1)(A), requires knowledge of specific infringing or likely infringing content, not just suspicious categories of content. Id. at 31-34.  Finally it found that Veoh did not have the “right and ability to control” infringing activity, as required by another exception to the safe harbor provisions, 17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(1)(B), rejecting Viacom’s contention that this exception should be interpreted in line with the common law definition of vicarious liability. Id. at 40, 42.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which had filed an amicus brief in support of Veoh, hails the decision as a victory for hosts of user-generated content, while TechCrunch provides a primer on the state of DMCA safe-harbor law in its wake. The Copyright Alliance, a content industry trade group, argues that the 9th Circuit opinion still leaves open a few possible lines of attack against hosting providers. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 1 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
By Sarah Jeong – Edited by Alex Shank

Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., No. 11-697 (U.S. Mar. 19, 2013)
Slip opinion

 

The Supreme Court held in a 6-3 decision that the “first sale” doctrine applies to copies of copyrighted work lawfully made abroad, reversing the judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The case involved the resale in the United States of approximately 600 copies of textbooks that originally had been bought in Thailand at relatively inexpensive prices. On remand, the Supreme Court ordered that the Second Circuit conduct further proceedings consistent with the Court’s opinion.

The unauthorized importation of copyrighted material is barred by § 602 of the Copyright Act of 1976 (17 U.S.C. § 602), and John Wiley & Sons’ (“Wiley”) right to distribute is protected by § 106(3). However, the first sale doctrine of § 109(a) extinguishes the copyright owner’s interest in a particular copy after the first sale to a consumer. At issue in Kirtsaeng was whether § 109(a) applies to goods of “foreign manufacture”—more specifically, whether the phrase “lawfully made under this title” applied to goods like the Asian editions of the Wiley textbooks. In holding that the first sale doctrine also extends to these goods, the Supreme Court removed the geographical limitations to the first sale doctrine placed by the Ninth Circuit in Omega S. A. v. Costco Wholesale Corp., 541 F.3d 982 (9th Cir. 2008). Furthermore, the holding undercuts distributors’ attempts to divide regional markets and practice economically efficient price discrimination.

The Los Angeles Times provides an overview of the case. Professor James Grimmelmann of New York Law School discusses the case in Publishers Weekly, calling the issues in the case “significant.” Ars Technica also comments on the decision, celebrating it as a “vindication” of the first sale doctrine. JOLT Digest previously reported on the Second Circuit’s holding in favor of Wiley, affirming the decision of the District Court for the Southern District of New York. JOLT Digest also previously commented on the future of the first sale doctrine after Quality King, a case heavily relied on by the Supreme Court in Kirtsaeng. (more…)

Posted On Mar - 30 - 2013 1 Comment READ FULL POST
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