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

By Daniel Etcovitch – Edited by Emily Chan

Florida Judge Rules Bitcoin Is Not Equivalent to Money

Illinois Governor Signs Bill Restricting Use of Stingrays

DMCA DRM Circumvention Provision’s Constitutionality Being Challenged

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest

By Yuan Cao – Edited by Frederick Ding

Mere Commercial Benefit Not Enough to Trigger The On-Sale Bar

Technology-Based Software Solution Can Be Patentable 

Patent Disputes about Siri, iTunes, Notification Push, and Location

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Sixth Circuit Finds Privacy Interest in Mugshots under FOIA

By Filippo Raso – Edited by Ariane Moss

A split en banc Sixth Circuit reversed the lower courts’ ruling, holding individuals have a privacy interest in their booking photos for the purposes of Exemption 7(C) of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552. In so doing, the Court overruled Circuit precedent established two decades ago. The case was remanded with instructions to balance the public interests against the individual’s privacy interest.

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The EFF Challenges the DMCA Anti-Circumvention Provision: A First Amendment Fight

By Priyanka Nawathe – Edited by Kayla Haran

On July 21, 2016, the Electronic Frontier Foundation sued the United States government to overturn DMCA Section 1201, commonly referred to as the anti-circumvention provision. The EFF argues that this provision, designed to prevent circumvention of “technological protection measures,” actually chills research and free speech, and thus is a violation of the First Amendment.

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By Jaehwan Park – Edited by Kayla Haran

Bipartisan Lawmakers Introduce Bill Encouraging U.S. Government Agencies to Use the Cloud as a Secure Alternative to Legacy Systems

Snapchat Accused of Violating Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Announces New Policy Group to Promote Global Digital Trade

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By Andrew Spore – Edited by Travis West

Case C-435/12, ACI Adam BV v. Stichting de Thuiskopie (E.C.J. Apr. 10, 2014)
Slip Opinion

In response to an order issued by the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) on April 10, 2014, the Netherlands has banned the unauthorized downloading of copyrighted material, effective immediately. According to Techdirt, the Dutch government previously had allowed such downloading for personal use because it believed that such a policy was consistent with European Union copyright law. The ECJ held that the Dutch legislation, “which makes no distinction between private copies made from lawful sources and those made from counterfeited or pirated sources cannot be tolerated.” ACI, slip op. at ¶ 37. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 20 - 2014 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Olga Slobodyanyuk

Icon-newsAmici urge the Ninth Circuit to reconsider its ruling in the “Innocence of Muslims” case

Numerous news organizations, academics and Internet companies have filed briefs in support of Google’s petition for a rehearing of Garcia v. Google, No. 12-57302 (9th Cir. Feb. 26, 2014), reports Reuters. The Ninth Circuit ruled that Garcia, an actress tricked into appearing for five seconds in an inflammatory anti-Muslim film, was entitled to a preliminary injunction, and it ordered Youtube to take down all copies of “Innocence of Muslims” with Garcia’s performance. Garcia, slip op, at 2. One group of amici support Google’s petition for a rehearing based on the ruling’s unworkability with established business practices and copyright doctrine. This group includes the International Documentary Association; Netflix; technology companies such as Facebook, eBay and Yahoo!; and IP professors, reports Techdirt. According to Reuters, another group of amici focus on Garcia’s exploitation of a copyright “loophole” in the liability shield for online intermediaries. The EFF’s brief, joined by the ACLU, the American Library Association and others, urges for a rehearing “in order to protect free speech in the debate over the film and also to safeguard the future of free expression online.” News organizations such as the Washington Post and NPR raise similar First Amendment concerns in their brief, reports Eric Goldman from The Technology and Marketing Law Blog. He also notes the absence of big entertainment companies from Google’s list of amici and the lack of discussion among the briefs of the fixation issue, “the most obvious legal defect in the panel’s majority opinion.” JOLT Digest and The Washington Post have analyzed the original opinion.

Record companies sue Pandora for royalties on songs made before 1972

In a complaint filed in the New York State Supreme Court last week, major record companies, including Sony, Universal and ABKCO, have alleged that Pandora violated state common law copyright by playing old songs without permission, reports The New York Times. Songs made before 1972 are covered by “a patchwork of state laws,” not by federal copyright law. The lawsuit is similar to the suit filed last year against Sirius XM, another listening service. Songs made after 1972 are covered by federal copyright law – together with Sirius XM, Pandora paid around $656 million in royalties for these songs last year. According to Ars Technica, payment for pre-1972 recordings would earn record companies about $60 million more per year. Pandora acknowledged the possibility of this lawsuit in its annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, noting that the company would be significantly liable if it was found to be infringing. However, Pandora told The New York Times that it “was confident in its legal position and looked forward to a quick resolution of the matter.” State copyright laws typically cover misappropriation and unfair competition. These common-law concepts would not traditionally cover Pandora’s performance of the songs, analyzes Techdirt.

Alleged Heartbleed hacker arrested

Stephen Arthuro Solis-Reyes, a 19 year-old Canadian student, was arrested on April 16 for allegedly stealing 900 social security numbers from the Canada Revenue Agency (“CRA”) using the Heartbleed vulnerability, reports The Washington Post. Solis-Reyes is charged with  one count of “Unauthorized Use of Computer” and one count of “Mischief in Relation to Data” per the Canadian criminal code and is scheduled to appear in court in July, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police press release. The CRA discovered the cyber theft of social security numbers on April 11 and has delayed the tax collection deadline from April 30 to May 5 in response, reports the DailyTech. Heartbleed is an OpenSSL flaw which “allows a connected Web client or application that sends messages to keep a connection active during a transfer of data,” explains Ars Technica. According to Top Tech News, the bug has been present for over two years in over 500,000 websites. The attack on the CRA is the first to be recorded since Heartbleed’s discovery, but it was soon followed by an attack at Mumsnet, a British website with around 1.5 million users. Although most websites have upgraded to a secure version of OpenSSL, 50 million Android users may still be vulnerable to a Heartbleed attack.

Posted On Apr - 20 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Geng Chen – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

Photo By: Robert Scoble - CC BY 2.0

Photo By: Robert ScobleCC BY 2.0

Microsoft Corp. v. DataTern, Inc., No. 13-1184 (Fed. Cir. Apr. 4, 2014)
Slip Opinion

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York’s rulings in a consolidated declaratory judgment action brought by Microsoft and SAP. Slip op. at 3. The two companies sought a judgment of noninfringement and invalidity for two of DataTern’s patents (the ‘402 and ‘502 patents). See id. at 4. DataTern challenged the district court’s finding that it possessed subject matter jurisdiction over the action because there existed a “substantial controversy . . . of sufficient immediacy and reality to warrant the issuance of a declaratory judgment.” Id. at 5 (quoting MedImmune, Inc. v. Genentech, Inc., 549 U.S. 118, 127 (2007)). The Federal Circuit affirmed with respect to most of Microsoft’s and SAP’s claims, as DataTern’s previous infringement suits against those companies’ customers impliedly asserted contributory and induced infringement claims against the companies themselves. See id. at 9–10.

PatentlyO features a thorough analysis of the decision. Mondaq provides additional analysis. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 19 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Emma Winer – Edited by Sheri Pan

Photo By: Images MoneyCC BY 2.0

United States v. Penchukov, No. 11-03074 (D. Neb. July 13, 2012)
First Superseding Indictment
Complaint

On April 11, 2014, the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) released a previously sealed indictment against nine alleged conspirators in an international malware scheme that stole millions of dollars from online bank accounts. First Superseding Indictment at 6, United States v. Penchukov, No. 11-03074 (D. Neb. Aug. 22, 2012). The indictment alleged that the conspirators infected thousands of business computers with the “Zeus” malware, which captured passwords, bank account numbers, and other information required to log into online banking systems. Two of the defendants, Yuriy Konovalenko and Yevhen Kulibaba, were arraigned in Nebraska federal court on Friday, after being extradited from the United Kingdom.

Ars Technica provides an overview of the case. PC Magazine, The Register, and Reuters offer additional commentary. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 18 - 2014 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Paul Klein – Edited by Alex Shank

Photo By: archie4ozCC BY 2.0

Joined Cases C-292/12 and C-594/12, Digital Rights Ireland Ltd v. Minister for Commc’ns, Marine, and Natural Res., (E.C.J. Apr. 8, 2014)
Slip Opinion hosted by Scribd

In a preliminary ruling last week, the European Court of Justice (“ECJ”) found to be invalid Directive 2006/24/EC (the “Directive”), which the European Parliament and of the Council had previously adopted. Slip op., at I-26. The Directive required EU members to enact laws mandating that electronic communications service providers retain user data for as long as two years. Id. at I-13. EU lawmakers created the Directive to facilitate the “investigation, detection and prosecution of serious crime,” id. at I-8, particularly organized crime and terrorism. Id. at I-7. The High Court (Ireland) and the Verfassungsgerichtshof (Austria) requested that the ECJ preliminarily rule on the Directive’s validity. Id. at I-3. Both courts have actions before them challenging the legality of national proceedings that accord with the Directive. Id.

The ECJ held that “by adopting Directive 2006/24, the EU legislature has exceeded the limits imposed by compliance with the principle of proportionality in the light of Articles 7, 8 and 52(1) of the Charter [of Fundamental Rights of the European Union].” Id. at I-26. In so holding, the court stated that Directive 2006/24 clashes “with the rights guaranteed by Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter,” and that “the fact that data are retained and subsequently used without the subscriber or registered user being informed is likely to generate in the minds of the persons concerned the feeling that their private lives are the subject of constant surveillance” Id. at I-20. The court identified three major problems with the Directive: 1) the extensive scope of data it would cause to be retained, 2) its failure to sufficiently limit authorities’ access to retained data, and 3) its failure to categorize the retained data in order to distinguish its usefulness and relevance. Id. at I-23–25. Accordingly, the Grand Chamber stated, “Directive 2006/24 entails a wide-ranging and particularly serious interference with those fundamental rights in the legal order of the EU, without such an interference being precisely circumscribed by provisions to ensure that it is actually limited to what is strictly necessary.” Id. at I-25.

Bloomberg provides an overview of and contextualizes the case, noting that the Directive was “drafted in the wake of terrorist attacks in London and Madrid . . . .” Voice of America reports that “some observers consider [the ruling] a nod to the Snowden leaks . . . .” It further notes that the court’s decision could affect trans-Atlantic commerce, as well as “the future of President Barack Obama’s proposed [National Security Agency] reforms on surveillance and data collection.” (more…)

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