A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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By Ellora Israni – Edited by Filippo Raso

IMDb is challenging the constitutionality of Assembly Bill 1687 (“AB 1687”), a California law requiring IMDb to remove ages from its website upon request from paid subscribers, claiming that the law violates the First Amendment’s free speech protections.

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Facebook Blocks British Insurance Company from Basing Premiums on Posts and Likes

By Javier Careaga– Edited by Mila Owen

Admiral Insurance has created an initiative called firstcarquote, which analyzes Facebook activity of first-time car owners. The firstcarquote algorithm determines risk based on personality traits and habits that are linked to safe driving. Firstcarquote was recalled two hours before its official launch and then was launched with reduced functionality after Facebook denied authorization, stating that the initiative breaches Facebook’s platform policy.

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Airbnb challenges New York law regulating short-term rentals

By Daisy Joo – Edited by Nehaa Chaudhari

Airbnb filed a complaint in the Federal District Court of the Southern District of New York seeking to “enjoin and declare unlawful the enforcement against Airbnb” of the recent law that prohibits  the advertising of short-term rentals on Airbnb and other similar websites.  Airbnb argued that the new law violated its rights to free speech and due process, and that it was inconsistent with Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects online intermediaries that host or republish speech from a range of liabilities.

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Medtronic v. Bosch post-Cuozzo: PTAB continues to have the final say on inter partes review

By Nehaa Chaudhari – Edited by Grace Truong

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“the Federal Circuit”) reaffirmed its earlier order, dismissing Medtronic’s appeal against a decision of the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (“PTAB”). The PTAB had dismissed Medtronic’s petition for inter partes review of Bosch’s patents, since Medtronic had failed to disclose all real parties in interest, as required by 35 U.S.C. §312(a)(2).

 

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California DMV Discuss Rules on Autonomous Vehicles

DOJ Release Guidelines on CFAA Prosecutions

Illinois Supreme Court Rule in Favor of State Provisions Requiring Disclosure of Online Identities of Sex Offenders

Research Shows Concerns for Crucial Infrastructure Information Leaks

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By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang

Demand Letter to Google, Inc.

Celebrities impacted by the theft and distribution of personal images stored on Apple’s iCloud service may soon head to court seeking damages from Google for continued copyright infringement and privacy violations.

On October 1st, Martin Singer of California entertainment litigation firm Lavely & Singer issued a demand letter to Google on behalf of “over a dozen female celebrities, actresses, models and athletes,” alleging that the internet giant dragged its feet halting the spread of the stolen images. Demand Letter at 1. In the letter addressed to Google founder Larry Page and other top executives, Google is accused of failing to remove the private pictures pursuant to the requirements of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) and threatened with a lawsuit for compensatory and punitive damages that could reach over $100,000,000 unless the offending content is promptly taken down. Id

The images at issue are at the center of the 2014 celebrity photo hacking scandal. In late August, over one hundred stolen personal pictures of mostly female celebrities were posted to imageboard 4chan and later circulated through websites like Reddit. The pictures, which depict big name stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, were acquired illegally through suspected attacks on Apple’s iCloud service. 

Title II of the DMCA, also known as the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act (“OCILLA”), provides “safe harbor” for internet service providers (“ISPs”) like Google against liability for copyright infringing materials shared over their systems or networks if, upon notice of the unlawful content, the ISP “acts expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material.” OCCIA, 17 U.S.C 101, § 512 (c)(1)(C) (1998). 

The demand letter alleges that since the private images were first released in late August, websites and ISPs including Google were issued notices demanding the removal of the images pursuant to the requirements of the DMCA. Demand Letter at 12. While the majority of the requests were fulfilled, some within hours, Google has purportedly continued to allow access to the images on Google owned sites like BlogSpot and YouTube, as well as through search results, for more than four weeks. Id. The letter also highlighted that Google’s YouTube counsel and compliance department have refused to remove the images at issue that are uploaded to YouTube through the expedited content verification process that would enable instant removal of such images. Id. at 2. 

The demand letter points to Google’s slogan “Don’t be evil” and its alleged commitment to “doing the right thing . . . following the law, acting honorably and treating each other with respect” as contradictory to the company’s inaction in the face of rampant copyright infringement and privacy violations. Id. Comparing Google’s conduct to another prominent headline from recent months, the letter asserts that “(l)ike the NFL, which turned a blind eye while its players assaulted and victimized women and children, Google has turned a blind eye while its sites repeatedly exploit and victimize these women.” Id. at 3. 

After outlining Google’s alleged misconduct, the letter concludes by demanding that Google remove the stolen images from all of its hosted sites and accounts; suspend or terminate any hosted sites or accounts that uploaded, displayed, linked to, or invited the submission of the stolen images; and remove all Google search results for the images. Id. at 3. If Google fails to comply, it may face a high-profile lawsuit on behalf of the female celebrities.

Additional commentary on the potential litigation against Google is available from Law 360, Ars Technica, and The Wall Street Journal.

Amanda Liverzani is a 2L at the Harvard Law School.

Posted On Oct - 16 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Travis West

Apple announced that it could no longer access information stored on devices with the iOS 8 system. This means that if law enforcement came to Apple with a seized device and a valid warrant, Apple would be technically incapable of accessing the data. According to a statement in Apple’s privacy policy:

“On devices running iOS 8, your personal data such as photos, messages (including attachments), email, contacts, call history, iTunes content, notes, and reminders is placed under the protection of your passcode. Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data. So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”

iOS 8 introduced default encryption and data protection. “By setting up a device passcode, the user automatically enables Data Protection. . . . The passcode is entangled with the device’s UID, so brute-force attempts must be performed on the device under attack. A large iteration count is used to make each attempt slower. The iteration count is calibrated so that one attempt takes approximately 80 milliseconds. This means it would take more than 5½ years to try all combinations of a six-character alphanumeric passcode with lowercase letters and numbers.” iOS Security Guide September 2014, at 11.

Google announced that its next mobile operating system, Android L, will join iOS 8 in offering default encryption.

Ars Technica provides an overview of Apple’s iOS 8 privacy policy and summarizes the favorable views from privacy advocates. According to the report, Nicole Ozer, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, called the privacy upgrade “long overdue.” Catherine Crump, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said that it was “heartening to see a major American company conclude that it’s a business advantage to protect its users’ privacy and security.” The Cato Institute also applauds Apple’s new policy, explaining that many concerns over closing the backdoor to law enforcement are unwarranted. For example, encryption has stymied law enforcement investigations less often than people might think.

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Posted On Oct - 16 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Paulius Jurcys

CJEU Grants “Causal Event” Jurisdiction for Online Copyright Infringement

Cruz Villalón, Advocate General (“AG”) of the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”), delivered his Opinion in Pez Hejduk v. EnergieAgentur.NRW GmbH, which dealt with the interpretation of Art. 5(3) of the Brussels I Regulation and the question of jurisdiction over copyright infringements. In that case, Hejduk, an Austrian photographer, sued a German corporation for unauthorized publication of her photographs online. The German defendant contested jurisdiction, arguing that the case should have been brought before a German court. It pointed out that its place of establishment was in Germany and that its website used “.de” domain. Villalón discussed recent cases such as eDate (victim’s “centre of interests” approach) and Pinckney (localization of damage), and proposed to confer jurisdiction to the courts of the state in which the “causal event” occurred. Making content available online may cause damage in those states in which copyright is protected, but given the general/special jurisdiction dichotomy under the Brussels I Regulation (Arts. 2 and 5(3)), it remains for the Court to clarify whether ‘causal event’ jurisdiction is not too narrow for online copyright infringement cases under Art. 5(3).

Creators of the Blue-LED Technology Receive Nobel Prize

On October 7th, 2014, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced its decision to award the Nobel Prize in Physics to three Japanese scientists for inventing energy-saving LED lights, which “triggered a fundamental transformation of lighting technology.” One of the inventors, Shuji Nakamura, had sued his former employer, Nichia Corporation, four years ago after Nichia gave him an award of $200 for his invention. The meager compensation reflected the long-held notion in Japanese culture that employees should sacrifice for their companies. Nakamura’s battle with Nichia and settlement for $8 million was an important turning point for strengthening employees’ rights as well as for motivating workers  to design innovative products.

California Enacts Open Access Legislation

California has become one of the first jurisdictions to enact Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act on September 29, 2014. Prior to enactment, state agencies and departments were only required to share the results of research conducted by state employees. The new law further requires the recipient of state funding to provide public access to any publication, invention or technology on a government-approved and freely accessible database.

Posted On Oct - 14 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

pic01By: Chris Crawford and Joshua Vittor

This article assumes a base level of knowledge about Bitcoin, bitcoin (BTC), blockchain technology, the Silk Road seizure, and the collapse of MtGox. For a helpful summary of how this technology works, see the first portion of this articlewritten by Matthew Ly of the Journal of Law and Technology.

Bitcoin, and crypto-currency more generally, has risen in the five years since its launch from an academic exercise to what is today a multi-billion dollar system of transacting wealth. Its signature technology is the blockchain, a nearly incorruptible public ledger that replaces many functions traditionally left to trusted intermediaries, such as transaction verification. These trusted intermediaries, like banks and wire transmitters, are highly regulated under our current legal system. The threat of government enforcement or private litigation is meant to ensure that they operate fairly and legally and to provide relief for victims when the intermediaries breach those victims’ trusts.

Bitcoin enthusiasts, however, emphasize that trusted intermediaries often do not operate fairly or legally (e.g. they run off with the money), and that the legal system’s reactive nature is an insufficient deterrent against malpractice and wrongdoing. Blockchain technology, some claim, has the potential to ensure proper transactions in a way that the traditional legal system has never been capable of. With blockchains, so the argument goes, there will be no need for a legal system (including government regulations) to guarantee the success of a transaction because there will be no need for trusted intermediaries to complete a transaction. (more…)

Posted On Sep - 10 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Written by: Michelle Sohn

Edited by: Olga Slobodyanyuk

Emulsion: A mixture of two or more liquids that are normally immiscible (nonmixable or unblendable).

-Wikipedia

 I.               UberX D.C. as Case Study in the Local Sharing Economy

If states are laboratories of democracy, then cities are the experiments. A new experiment has bubbled up in cities across the world, reaching a boiling point. The experiment? The local sharing economy. In May, amidst accusations that many of its users were violating New York’s illegal hotels law, Airbnb agreed to release redacted user data to New York’s Attorney General. In early June, the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle Services issued cease-and-desist letters to Uber and Lyft, ride-on-demand mobile app services. Weeks later, taxicabs caravanned into Washington, D.C. in protest, bringing traffic to a standstill. They demanded that the D.C. City Council also issue cease-and-desist letters. While Virginia has since lifted the ban on Uber and Lyft, other states and cities have continued to fight.

Heretofore, much of the debate has centered around two competing narratives: According to some, the Uber story (and more broadly, the local sharing economy story) is one that pits ham-handed regulation against innovation, protecting entrenched and outmoded industries. Others argue that the case against Uber is fair, and that to compete all services should play by the same rules. While politics and fears of disruption certainly play large roles in this regulatory drama, this comment points to a larger legal controversy at work—the increased emulsification of commercial and private uses. Although the focus of this comment is on Uber and D.C., the larger goal is to identify major regulatory tensions with the local sharing economy by examining actual and proposed municipal regulations and laws. (more…)

Posted On Aug - 31 - 2014 1 Comment READ FULL POST
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