A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Privacy Concerns in the Sharing Economy: The Case of Uber 

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim

Recent revelations about Uber’s disconcerting use of personal user information have exposed the numerous weaknesses in Uber’s Privacy Policy. The lack of regulation in the area, coupled with the sensitive nature of personal information gathered by Uber, makes the issue one requiring immediate attention of policy makers.

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San Francisco Court Considers Google’s Search and Ad Services Free Speech

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas

A San Francisco court dismissed a lawsuit against Google, treating Google’s search and advertisement services as constitutionally protected free speech. The lawsuit alleged an antitrust violation based on unfavorable treatment of a website in Google’s search results, and on the withdrawal of third-party advertisement from the website. In throwing out the lawsuit, the court applied California’s “anti-SLAPP” law, which allows quick dismissal of lawsuits against acts protected as free speech.

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EU Unitary Patent System Challenge Unsustainable: Advocate General

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union has rendered an opinion on Spain’s challenges to regulations implementing the European Unitary Patent System. The Advocate General opines that the challenges must be dismissed as the system is intended to provide genuine benefit in terms of uniformity and integration, and safeguard the principle of legal certainty, while the choice of languages reduces translation costs considerably.

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California Sex Offender Internet Identification Law Held Unenforceable

By Jesse Goodwin – Edited by Michael Shammas

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court ruling granting a preliminary injunction prohibiting of the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation (“CASE”) Act. In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel held that requiring sex offenders provide written notice of “any and all Internet identifiers” within 24 hours to the police likely imposed an unconstitutional burden on protected speech.

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Congress Fails to Pass Act Limiting Collection of Phone Metadata

By Henry Thomas – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

The Senate failed to reach closure and bring the USA FREEDOM Act to a vote. The Act would have extended provisions of the Patriot Act, but would have sharply curtailed the executive’s authority to collect phone conversation metadata. While the bill had broad popular support, the vote failed largely along party lines, passing the onus of drafting and approving a new bill onto the next congressional session.

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SOFA Entm’t, Inc. v. Dodger Prods., Inc.
By Erica Larson – Edited by Alex Shank

SOFA Entm’t, Inc. v. Dodger Prods., Inc. No. 2:08-cv-02616 (9th Cir. Mar. 11, 2013)
Slip Opinion

Photo By: bagaballCC BY 2.0

The Ninth Circuit affirmed the decision of the District Court for the Central District of California to grant summary judgment and award attorneys’ fees to Dodger Productions, Inc. (“Dodger”) in its suit against SOFA Entertainment, Inc. (“SOFA”).

In an opinion by Judge Trott, the court concluded that Dodger’s unlicensed use of a clip from the Ed Sullivan Show fell squarely within the fair use exception. In so holding, the court stated that the use was transformative and the clip used was not at the core of the copyrighted work. In addition, the court awarded attorneys’ fees to Dodger, on the grounds that SOFA should have known that it had little chance of success.

Dan Levine, writing for Thomson Reuters, offers a concise overview of the case. All Media Law provides a more detailed discussion. In her blog, Rebecca Tushnet focuses on the court’s use of fees to send a message about the purposes of copyright. (more…)

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

By Samantha Rothberg

Flash DigestReuters Employee Indicted for Conspiring with Anonymous to Hack News Site

A federal grand jury indicted Reuters’ deputy social media editor Matthew Keys for allegedly conspiring with the hacking group Anonymous, Reuters reports. The indictment claims that in 2010, shortly after being fired from his job with a Sacramento television station owned by the Tribune Company, Keys gave Anonymous members a username and password linked to the company’s server. A hacker nicknamed “Sharpie” then used the log-in credentials to hack the Los Angeles Times website, changing the text and headline of a news story. Keys has been charged with three criminal counts, including conspiracy to cause damage to a protected computer, and faces a maximum sentence of up to 25 years in prison and up to $750,000 in fines.

Federal Judge Allows FTC to Serve International Defendants via Facebook

A U.S. District Judge granted the FTC’s request to serve documents via email and Facebook to defendants in India who are accused of scamming U.S. consumers, reports Evan Brown at internetcases. In his opinion granting the request, Judge Paul Engelmayer noted that service by email and Facebook is not prohibited by international agreement. Furthermore, Judge Engelmayer found that service by email and Facebook comports with due process requirements in this case because it is “reasonably calculated” to provide the defendants with notice, particularly given evidence showing that the Facebook and email accounts in question are actually owned and used by the defendants. While Judge Engelmayer noted that courts must be open to the possibility of “service via technological means of then-recent vintage,” he also expressed skepticism that service via Facebook alone would be sufficient to meet due process requirements.

D.C. Circuit Reinstates ACLU Lawsuit Seeking Information on CIA’s Role in Drone Strikes

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reinstated an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit seeking CIA documents relating to the agency’s drone program, Bloomberg reports. The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act request in 2010 for records disclosing the legal basis for the use of drones to kill civilians abroad, and the CIA argued that to confirm or deny the existence of the drone program would pose a threat to national security. A district court accepted the CIA’s reasoning and dismissed the case in 2011, but the appeals court rejected their argument and sent the case back to the district court for further proceedings. The court ruled that since the drone targeting program had been publicly acknowledged by senior administration officials, including President Barack Obama, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and current CIA Director John Brennan, the agency had waived its right to withhold the information.

Google Settles Street View Lawsuit, Acknowledges Privacy Violations

Google has settled a lawsuit brought by 38 states regarding privacy violations by its Street View team, reports the New York Times. Google acknowledged that its Street View mapping vehicles violated people’s privacy by secretly collecting personal information from millions of unprotected wireless networks across the country. The settlement requires Google to pay a modest $7 million fine and meet several specific privacy benchmarks, including setting up a privacy program within six months, offering privacy certification and training programs for its employees, and launching a comprehensive effort via YouTube, online ads, and newspaper ads to educate consumers about easy ways to encrypt their wireless networks.

 

Posted On Mar - 18 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST

United States v. Cotterman
By Casey Holzapfel ­– Edited by Jessica Vosgerchian

United States v. Cotterman, No. 09-10139 (9th Cir. March 8, 2013)
Slip opinion

In an en banc decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed a decision of the District Court of Arizona suppressing evidence found in a laptop seized by border agents.

The Ninth Circuit held that comprehensive searches of electronic devices must meet a standard of reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, extending the standard for searches conducted away from the point of entry to forensic examinations of computers carried out as part of a border search. The Ninth Circuit reversed the district court after finding that the agents did meet that standard.

Wired comments on the authorization of “blank check” search rules for electronics by the executive branch. Ars Technica and Politico provide a comprehensive overview of the dissenting opinions. (more…)

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

Gunn v. Minton
By Laura Fishwick – Edited by Charlie Stiernberg

Gunn v. Minton, No. 11-1118, 2013 WL 610193 (U.S. Feb. 20, 2013)
Slip Opinion

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of the United States reversed and remanded a decision of the Supreme Court of Texas, Minton v. Gunn, 355 S.W.3d 634 (Tex. 2011), by finding that state courts can have jurisdiction over a legal malpractice claim based on an underlying patent matter. The Supreme Court of Texas had held that the case involved a substantial federal issue sufficient to trigger 28 U.S.C. § 1338(a)—which provides that “[f]ederal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over cases ‘arising under any Act of Congress relating to patent’”—because the resolution of the case turned on evaluation of an “experimental use” defense to anticipation under the on-sale bar of 35 U.S.C. § 102(b).

In the 1990s, Vernon Minton developed and patented a computer program and telecommunications network used for securities trading. Minton filed an infringement suit in federal district court against the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. (NASD) and the NASDAQ Stock Market, Inc. The district court declared Minton’s patent invalid on the basis of § 102(b)’s on-sale bar, because Minton had leased his patented program more than one year before filing his application. The district court further denied Minton’s motion for reconsideration, which argued for the first time that the lease agreement was part of ongoing testing qualifying under the “experimental use” exception to anticipation. The Federal Circuit affirmed, reasoning that Minton had waived this defense by not bringing it earlier. Minton then brought suit against his attorneys in Texas state court for failure to raise the experimental use argument. The state court rejected Minton’s argument, finding “less than a scintilla of proof” in his favor. Gunn, slip op. at 3. Minton appealed, arguing inter alia that the state trial court’s order should be vacated and the case dismissed because federal courts had exclusive jurisdiction over his patent law claim under § 1338(a).

Patently-O provides an overview of the case, and PatentDocs gives more detailed descriptions of the Court’s arguments. SCOTUSblog discusses the major holdings and impact for the Federal Circuit. (more…)

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

By Ron Gonski

Flash DigestSmartphone Unlockers May Soon Rejoice (Possibly)

Smartphone unlockers have reason to be optimistic despite the January 26 change, reported by ABC News, to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act banning the practice. This week, the Obama administration questioned the logic of the new ban and has pledged to support legislation to make cell phone unlocking legal, according to the Los Angeles Times. The White House has already been taken up on its offer, as Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced a bill in the Senate this week.

U.K. High Court Blacklists Piracy Websites, Raises Possibility of Active Monitoring

The difference in approaches to stopping copyright infringement between the United States and the United Kingdom was highlighted again last week when a U.K. high court ordered the country’s Internet service providers to block user access to three music file-sharing websites, Bloomberg reports. Common U.S. approaches are domain seizures and the new “Copyright Alert System,” as opposed to outright blacklisting. This was only the third time in the last two years that the U.K. high court has issued a ruling against alleged piracy websites, and the decision is significant because in his ruling Judge Arnold implied that having an effective notice and takedown policy may not be sufficient to avoid liability and some active monitoring may be required, notes the Guardian.

Effect of the Supreme Court’s Decision in Clapper Already Being Felt

In Clapper v. Amnesty Int’l USA (previously reported on by the Digest), the Court held that the ACLU, journalists, and other human rights groups had no standing to sue for nullification of the FISA Amendments Act, which allows the government to monitor emails and phone calls without a warrant as long as one of the parties to the conversation is outside the United States. Last week, the government relied on that weeks-old opinion to demand that the U.S. District Court in San Francisco dismiss a lawsuit brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation for Fourth Amendment unreasonable search violations under the National Security Agency’s dragnet surveillance program, reports Wired.

Posted On Mar - 11 - 2013 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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Privacy Concerns in

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim Following scandals earlier ...

free-speech

San Francisco Court

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas S. Louis Martin ...

European union concept, digital illustration.

EU Unitary Patent Sy

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi Advocate General’s Opinion ...

computer-typing1

California Sex Offen

By Jesse Goodwin – Edited by Michael Shammas Doe v. Harris, ...

nsa-tracking-phone-records-325x337

Congress Fails to Pa

By Henry Thomas – Edited by Paulius Jurcys USA FREEDOM Act ...