A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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ITC’s review of an ALJ’s order was not procedurally sound
By Mengyi Wang – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit unanimously vacated and remanded a decision of the International Trade Commission (“ITC”), finding that the ITC exceeded its authority in reviewing an administrative law judge’s (“ALJ”) order denying a motion for termination. In so holding, the Court rejected the ITC’s attempt to characterize the ALJ’s decision as an initial determination, which would be subject to review.

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Facebook’s experiment of emotional contagion raises concerns
By Jenny Choi – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

On June 17, 2014, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences released a study in which Facebook reduced positive and negative posts on News Feeds to observe any changes in the participants’ posts to test whether emotional states are contagious through verbal expressions. Many have criticized Facebook for the experiment,  finding that Facebook has deceived its users, violated past Consent Orders, and stretched the users’ terms of service agreements too far.

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Georgia Supreme Court Takes Chan v. Ellis Appeal to Redefine First Amendment Right on the Internet
By Yixuan Long – Edited by Emma Winer

The Georgia Court of Appeals ordered the appeal in Ellis v. Chan be transferred to the Georgia Supreme Court. Chan, an interactive website owner, appealed the trial court’s permanent protective order, which commanded him to take down more than 2000 posts on his website, and forbade him from coming within 1000 yards of Ellis. The Court of Appeals decided that the case raised significant constitutional issues regarding the First Amendment right on the internet.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Ken Winterbottom

Access to nude photos is a ‘perk’ of working at the NSA, Snowden says

Record label slams YouTube star with copyright infringement suit

Study shows women are still underrepresented among technology leaders

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SDNY Holds Bitcoins Fall Under Purview of Federal Money Laundering Statute

By Amanda Liverzani  Edited by Mengyi Wang

The debate surrounding the legal status of Bitcoins continued to heat up, as the Southern District of New York weighed in on whether the virtual currency could be used to launder money under 18 U.S.C. §1956(h). In a July 9, 2014 opinion penned by Judge Forrest in United States v. Ulbricht, the court held that exchanges involving Bitcoins constitute “financial transactions” for purposes of the money laundering statute, noting that “[a]ny other reading would—in light of Bitcoins’ sole raison d’etre—be nonsensical.”

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By Michael Hoven

Facebook’s “Sponsored Stories” Settlement Rejected by Court

District Judge Richard Seeborg of the Northern District of California rejected a $20 million settlement of a class-action suit against Facebook over its “Sponsored Stories” feature, reports Wired. In his order, Judge Seeborg questioned the fairness of the proposed settlement, under which Facebook would pay $10 million in attorney’s fees and $10 million to charity, to class members, especially given the size of the award to plaintiffs’ attorneys and the uncertain process by which the parties arrived at the $20 million figure.

Google Adds Prior Art Finder to Its Patent Search

Google improved its patent search feature by adding European patents and a tool to search for prior art, reports GigaOM. According to Google’s Research Blog, “[t]he Prior Art Finder identifies key phrases from the text of the patent, combines them into a search query, and displays relevant results from Google Patents, Google Scholar, Google Books, and the rest of the web.” GigaOM questioned the propriety of having a private company play a pivotal role in patent disputes, while Forbes called the Prior Art Finder “an extremely useful tool.”

Linking Helps Gizmodo Defeat Defamation Lawsuit

California appellate court affirmed a trial court’s decision to strike, on anti-SLAPP grounds, a defamation complaint against Gawker Media, reports the Atlantic. Scott Redmond, the CEO of Peep Telephony, sued Gawker because of a Gizmodo post critical of Peep Telephony. The Gizmodo post was protected in part because its use of outbound links made the article transparent and showed that it consisted of protected opinion rather than assertions of fact.

Privacy Suit against Hulu Allowed to Continue

In a decision that could have implications for all online streaming-video services, the Northern District of California (order hosted by Scribd) denied Hulu’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against it under the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act (“VPPA”), reports the New York Times. Plaintiffs allege that Hulu allowed third-party companies to place cookies on viewers computers and track their actions across the Internet. Hulu argued, unsuccessfully, that the VPPA did not apply because Hulu was not a video rental company.

 

Posted On Aug - 20 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Sixth Circuit Approves Warrantless Tracking of Cell Phone Location
By Michael Hoven – Edited by Andrew Crocker

United States v. Skinner, No. 09-6497 (6th Cir. Aug. 14, 2012)

Slip opinion
The Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit upheld a jury’s conviction of Melvin Skinner on two counts related to drug trafficking and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, rejecting Skinner’s argument on appeal that the district court had wrongly denied his motion to suppress evidence on the grounds that it was obtained through an unlawful search.

The Sixth Circuit held that law enforcement did not need a warrant to track Skinner through cell-site information, GPS location, and “ping” data. Because Skinner had “no reasonable expectation of privacy in the data given off” by his phone, the police were free to collect and use that data, and there was no violation of the Fourth Amendment. Skinner, No. 09-6497, slip op. at 6. In so holding, the court distinguished its case from United States v. Jones, 132 S. Ct. 945 (2012) (previously covered by the Digest), in which the Supreme Court held that placing a GPS tracking device on a car violated the Fourth Amendment. Unlike Jones, in which police trespassed onto private property, Skinner purchased the phone himself and the phone freely emitted signals that revealed his location, which eliminated any reasonable expectation of privacy on Skinner’s part.

Bloomberg Businessweek provides an overview of the case. Several commentators, including Orin Kerr at the Volokh Conspiracy, Jennifer Granick at the Center for Internet and Society, and Julian Sanchez at Cato @ Liberty, criticize the court’s discussion of cell phone technology, noting that pinging a cell phone is a request for the cell phone to return a signal, and therefore ping data is not “given off” in the way the court appears to conceive.
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Posted On Aug - 17 - 2012 1 Comment READ FULL POST

JOLT Digest would like to thank our summer contributors, editors, and comment authors, whose names can be found on our Summer 2012 staff page, for their hard work over the past two months.

 

Posted On Aug - 15 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Written By: Yana Welinder
Edited By: Molly Jennings
Editorial Policy

When Judge Robert Bork was nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987, a reporter politely asked his local video store assistant for a Xerox copy of handwritten entries of Judge Bork’s 146 prior rentals. Having convinced the editor of the Washington City Paper that this was perfectly legal, the reporter then published these records under the heading “The BORK Tapes.” The issue featured a suggestive cartoon of Judge Bork on the cover—beer in hand, slouching in an armchair in front of the television. You can imagine people flocked to buy copies of the paper hoping for juicy tidbits about the Supreme Court nominee’s secret watching habits. But to their disappointment, Judge Bork’s rental records listed only garden-variety films. This incident nevertheless spurred a privacy outrage. Within months, the Video and Library Privacy Protection Act was debated in Congress and California Congressman McCandless spoke in favor of the bill:

There’s a gut feeling that people ought to be able to read books and watch films without the whole world knowing. Books and films are the intellectual vitamins that fuel the growth of individual thought. The whole process of intellectual growth is one of privacy—of quiet, and reflection. This intimate process should be protected from the disruptive intrusion of a roving public eye. What we’re trying to protect with this legislation are usage records of content-based materials—books, records, videos, and the like.  . . . [T]here is an element of common decency in this legislation. It is really nobody else’s business what people read, watch, or listen to.

But books, records, and other materials were subsequently removed from the scope of this bill.{{1}}  The final version was adopted to regulate only the “rental, sale, or delivery of prerecorded video cassette tapes or similar audio visual materials” (emphasis added). Given its history, the legislation was dubbed the “Bork Bill.”

This comment argues that recent technological developments warrant an extension of the Bork Bill to protect records of online content consumption. The early view of the Internet as a space where “nobody knows you’re a dog” enabled people to freely browse online content, resulting in more “creativity and innovation.” Professor Eben Moglen has likened this anonymous space to cities as the historic destination for individuals who wanted to “escape the surveillance of the village” and “experiment autonomously in ways of living.” But as online exploration of content is increasingly being logged and those logs are being exposed, the Internet as a source of intellectual vitamins is under threat. More than ever, we now need to prevent the logging of media consumption that is not necessary for making the media available. This applies not only to media that existed in 1988 when the Bork Bill was adopted, such as books and music records, but to any material used for intellectual pursuit of knowledge, including blogs, tweets, podcasts, and other new sources of information. It is further critical that records of our intellectual curiosity not be shared with others without our permission to disclose that particular material.

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Posted On Aug - 14 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Charlie Stiernberg

Proposed SHIELD Act Would Require Non-Practicing Entities to Pay Legal Costs

The Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes Act of 2012 (“SHIELD Act”) aims to deter non-practicing entities (“NPEs”)—patent holders that do not make, use, or sell their claimed invention—from filing lawsuits by requiring such plaintiffs to pay successful defendants’ attorney fees, if a court determines that the suit did not have a reasonable likelihood of succeeding. Congressman Peter Defazio (D-OR) introduced H.R. 6245 on August 1 to supplement 35 U.S.C. § 285, which provides for attorney fees in “exceptional cases,” with a new section 285A.  The SHIELD Act would only apply to computer software and hardware patents, both defined within the act. According to the Wall Street Journal, Rep. DeFazio intends to target companies that “buy the patents solely to sue the American tech startups that created the products.”

Raytheon Plans to Pursue Trade Secret Misappropriation Claims against Indigo Systems and FLIR

Following a favorable reversal in the Federal Circuit, Raytheon Co. plans to pursue its trade secret misappropriation claims against Indigo Systems Corp. and FLIR Systems Inc., the New York Times reports. In a unanimous opinion by Judge Linn, the Federal Circuit overturned a decision by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas that had dismissed claims involving infrared camera technology because of the statute of limitations. In so holding, the Federal Circuit reasoned that Raytheon had reasonably relied on Indigo/FLIR’s repeated false assurances that Raytheon’s trade secrets were adequately protected.

Proposed Amendments to ECPA Would Require Warrants for Cloud Data

New legislation proposed by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) would amend the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to require the government to obtain a probable-cause warrant to access data stored in the cloud. The proposal would protect files in Dropbox, Facebook, and Google storage accounts, among others. Under the current ECPA, largely unchanged since the Reagan administration, the government can acquire such content as long as it has been stored on a third-party server for 180 days or more. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) proposed similar legislation last year, but it never got a hearing in the Judiciary Committee. Wired predicts a similar fate for this new proposal.

Posted On Aug - 13 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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ITC’s review of an

ITC’s review of an ALJ’s order was not procedurally sound By ...

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Facebook’s experim

Facebook’s experiment of emotional contagion raises concerns By Jenny Choi – ...

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Georgia Supreme Cour

Georgia Supreme Court Takes Chan v. Ellis Appeal to Redefine ...

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Flash Digest: News i

By Ken Winterbottom Access to nude photos is a ‘perk’ of ...

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SDNY Holds Bitcoins

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang United States v. Ulbricht, ...