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District Court Holds that Internet-Based Television Provider, FilmOn X is Entitled to a Compulsory License

By Anne Woodworth – Edited by Henry Thomas

The U.S. District court for the Central District of California ruled that an online streaming service that rebroadcasted network television fit the definition of a cable company, and was entitled to compulsory licensing under § 111 of the Copyright Act.  The order relied on the Supreme Court’s Aereo decision, which held that internet streaming was fundamentally the same as cable. The ruling conflicts with a Second Circuit case decided on similar facts, and is immediately appealable.

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Data Breach Victims, Rejoice: Seventh Circuit Finds that Threat of Injury is Sufficient for Article III Standing in Data Breach Class Actions

By Brittany Doyle – Edited by Ariane Moss

Last Monday, the Seventh Circuit Courto of Appeals ruled that victims of a data breach had standing to pursue a class action even when they had not suffered direct financial harm as a result of the breach or when they had already been compensated for financial harm resulting from the breach. The opinion reversed a contrary district court decision, which the Seventh Circuit said had incorrectly read the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Clapper v. Amnesty International USA.

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How Far Can Law Enforcement Go When Gathering Email Evidence? Former Gov. Scott Walker Employee Files Petition for Writ of Certiorari

By Kasey Wang – Edited by Ariane Moss

Kelly Rindfleisch is serving a six-month sentence for misconduct in public office while working for then-County Executive Scott Walker. Rindfleisch appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court, claiming that the government violated her Fourth Amendment rights while searching her emails for evidence for a different case.

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Russia’s “Right To Be Forgotten” and China’s Right To Be Protected: New Privacy and Security Legislation

By Brittany Doyle – Edited by Ken Winterbottom

The legislatures in Russia and China took steps this month to tighten regulations over Internet companies with access to user data. In Russia, President Vladmir Putin signed a law ensuring a “right to be forgotten” reminiscent of the European Court of Justice’s right to be forgotten ruling of May 2014. And in China, the National People’s Congress released a draft cybersecurity bill that would formalize and strengthen the State’s long-standing regulation of websites and network operators.

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Washington Appeals Court Refuses to Compel Unmasking of Anonymous Avvo Critic Absent Evidence of Defamation

By Leonidas Angelakos – Edited by Olga Slobodyanyuk

The Washington Court of Appeals held that—absent evidence of defamation—a third party website is not required to unmask an anonymous defendant. The court adopted an analysis similar to the widely cited Dendrite test for the showing a defamation plaintiff must make on a motion to compel disclosure of an anonymous defendant’s identity.

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United States v. Moalin
By Anton Ziajka – Edited by Elise Young

United States v. Moalin, 10-CR-4246 (JM) (S.D. Cal. filed Oct. 22, 2010)
Defendants’ Joint Motion for a New Trial and Prosecution’s Response and Opposition hosted by Ars Technica

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Basaaly Moalin, a Somali immigrant who earlier this year was convicted of conspiring to provide material support to the terrorist group al-Shabaab, filed a motion for a new trial last month. Moalin based his motion upon facts that surfaced during congressional hearings held in response to Edward Snowden’s release of information about the U.S. government’s electronic surveillance programs. Joint Motion for a New Trial at 1, Moalin (“Motion”). The government filed its response and opposition on September 30.

U-T San Diego reports on Moalin’s conviction and motion for a new trial. Slate and Ars Technica provide analysis of the case and its potential implications. The Washington Post reports on the FBI and NSA’s disclosures about the NSA’s surveillance of Moalin. JOLT Digest has previously reported on the surveillance leaks and related litigation. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 20 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Delfi AS v. Estonia
By Jennifer Garnett – Edited by Elise Young

Delfi AS v. Estonia, no. 64569/09, Eur. Ct. H.R. (October 10, 2013)
Judgment

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The European Court of Human Rights  (“ECHR”) upheld Estonian court rulings that Delfi, an online news portal in Estonia, was liable for defamatory comments posted by its users. Delfi AS v. Estonia, no. 64569/09, ¶¶7, 94, Eur. Ct. H.R. (October 10, 2013). Delfi was fined 5,000 kroons (approximately $426) in damages. Id. at ¶23. The ECHR affirmed the finding that Delfi could be held liable as a “publisher” of the work, id. at ¶50, and held that the decisions represented a “justified and proportionate” restriction on Delfi’s freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (“Convention”). Id. at ¶94. In so holding, the ECHR noted that Delfi was “expected to exercise a degree of caution” in monitoring comments on predictably controversial articles. Id. at ¶86. The ECHR further held that it was both practical and reasonable to hold Delfi liable, as the actual authors of the comments were anonymous and Delfi derived a commercial benefit from allowing its users to comment. Id. at ¶¶91, 93. The decision, however, may still be appealed.

Index, Forbes, and the International Business Times, strongly criticize the case, arguing that the decision departs from the traditional approach to liability for anonymous comments, and that the result could have far-reaching implications for Internet liability and the freedom of anonymity. Inforrm’s Blog features a thorough and critical analysis of the Court’s decision. The ECHR’s press release may be found here. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 19 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Mark Verstraete

Icon-newsMassachusetts District Court Denies Motion For Preliminary Injunction against Aereo

The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts denied a motion for preliminary injunction against Aereo, Inc. (“Aereo”), a company that captures television broadcast signals with individualized antennas and streams the broadcasts to paying subscribers. Hearst Stations Inc. v. Aereo, Inc., No. 13-cv-11649, at 3 (D. Mass. October 8, 2013). Hearst Stations Inc. (“Hearst”) claimed that use of Aereo’s technology directly infringes on exclusive rights guaranteed to Hearst as copyright holder under 17 U.S.C §106. In denying the motion, the court assessed the likelihood of Hearst succeeding on the merits and the likelihood of Hearst suffering irreparable damage without injunctive relief (Hearst, No. 13-cv-11649 at 8). The analysis of Hearst’s success on the merits focused predominately on whether Aereo “perform[ed] the copyrighted [audiovisual] work publicly,” a right exclusively reserved for the copyright holder. Id. at 9. The court reasoned that Aereo’s activities did not constitute a “public performance” because Aereo’s manner of transmitting TV signals creates “copies unique to each user and only at the user’s request.” Id. at 11. The court conceded that it was possible that Hearst could experience irreparable harm but concluded that the harm, if it did occur, would most likely materialize after the litigation and that demonstrating the potential for harm does not outweigh Hearst’s failure to show likelihood of success on the merits. Id. at 18. JOLT Digest covered earlier disputes involving Aereo, including the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s affirming the denial of a preliminary injunction against Aereo brought by several broadcast TV networks. ArsTechnica provides further coverage.

Airbnb Responds to Subpoena from New York Attorney General

Airbnb, Inc. (“Airbnb”), a company that provides an online platform for connecting “Hosts” that seek to rent their accommodations to “Guests” seeking accommodations, responded to a subpoena demanding information about 15,000 of its New York Hosts to determine if the Hosts’ practices violated New York laws regulating rental agreements and taxes. Airbnb, Inc. v. Schneiderman, Memorandum of Law in Support of the Verified Petition, at 1 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. October 9, 2013) (Hosted by ArsTechnica).  Airbnb contends that the subpoena implicates serious privacy concerns because it is overly broad. Id. at 4. That is, Hosts that are “not subject to the laws” or “are exempt from the tax scheme” may fall within the scope of the requested information. Id. at 2. Airbnb also pushed back on the New York housing laws themselves by claiming that they are inherently vague and thus fail to give fair notice. Id. at 6.

Delaware District Court Dismisses Class Action Suit Against Google Regarding Personally Identifiable Information

A federal judge dismissed a class action suit against Google because the plaintiffs had failed to show “an injury in fact” and thus lacked standing to bring the suit. In Re: Google Inc. Cookie Placement Consumer Privacy Litigation, No. 12-md-02358-SLR (D. Del. October 9, 2013) (Hosted by The Am Law Daily). The claim against Google arose from its practice of embedding advertisements with code that deceives Apple Safari and Internet Explorer into accepting third-party cookies. Id. at 1. The plaintiffs claim that the manipulation of an Internet browser into accepting cookies infringes on their economic interests – constituting an injury in fact – because it provides the defendants with the plaintiffs’ valuable information without paying for it. Id. at 4. The plaintiffs supported the idea that their personal information is economically valuable because it can be sold directly to advertisers. Id. at 5. The court reasoned that, although the plaintiffs demonstrated that personal data has value, they failed to show that their ability to monetize their data “has been diminished or lost by virtue of Google’s previous collection of it.” Id. at 6-7. Thus, the plaintiffs failed to allege an injury-in-fact and lacked Article III standing. TechCrunch contextualizes the decision within the larger Federal Trade Commission investigation.

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

By Travis West – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

Photo By: Robson#CC BY 2.0

The National Security Agency (“NSA”) has developed techniques to circumvent the anonymity offered by the Tor network. Tor is a service that anonymizes users’ Internet traffic by routing requests to websites and other services through multiple servers, making it extremely difficult to track. While the NSA can track some Tor users, the agency has been unable to crack the underlying technology and instead relies on tools like browser exploits and its direct access to the Internet backbone to intercept website requests.

The Guardian and The Washington Post published the original stories based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Bruce Schneier of The Guardian provided a technical analysis of the NSA’s techniques. Ars Technica and Time Techland provided additional coverage. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 12 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Société des Produits Nestlé S.A. v. Cadbury UK Ltd.
By Anton Ziajka – Edited by Abhilasha Nautiyal

Société des Produits Nestlé S.A. v. Cadbury UK Ltd., [2013] EWCA (Civ) 1174 (October 04, 2013)
Judgment hosted by BAILII

Britain’s Court of Appeal (Civil Division) reversed an order of the High Court of Justice (Chancery Division) that had approved for registration Cadbury UK Ltd.’s (“Cadbury”) Trade Mark application No. 2 376 879 (“the ‘879 application”) for a specific shade of purple to be used on the packaging of its chocolate products. The Court of Appeal held that Cadbury’s color mark did not qualify as a trade mark under the Trade Marks Directive 2008/95 (“the Directive”). 2008 O.J. (L 299) 25, 26 (EC). The Court held that “an application to register a trade mark must satisfy three conditions …: (i) there must be a sign; (ii) it must be capable of graphical representation; [and] (iii) it must be capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one undertaking from those of other undertakings.” Société des Produits Nestlé S.A. v. Cadbury UK Ltd., [2013] EWCA (Civ) 1174 at ¶15. The Court concluded that Cadbury’s impugned mark did not constitute “a sign” that is “graphically represented” and thus failed to satisfy conditions (i) and (ii) of Article 2 of the Directive. Id. at ¶51. To allow registration of a trademark with such vagueness, the Court noted, would offend both “the principle[s] of certainty…[and] of fairness,” in part because “competitors… would not be able to tell from inspecting the register the full scope and extent of the registration.” Id. at ¶52.

The Guardian and World Intellectual Property Review provide coverage of the decision. The Washington Post compares the decision with several prominent United States cases involving color trade marks. The IPKat provides further analysis and commentary on the case and related decisions. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 11 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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