A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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The FCC’s Net Neutrality Rules on Protecting and Promoting Open Internet

By Shuli Wang – Edited by Yaping Zhang

Two weeks after voting on regulating broadband Internet service as a public utility, on March 12, the Federal Communications Commission (”FCC”) released a document (the FCC Order and Rules) on net neutrality, which reclassifies high-speed Internet as a telecommunications service rather than an information service, thus subjecting Internet service providers (ISPs) as common carrier to regulations under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. The purpose of the new rules is to ensure the free flow of bits through the web without paid-for priority lanes and blocking or throttling of any web content.

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White House releases administration discussion draft for Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act of 2015

By Lan Du – Edited by Katherine Kwong

On February 27, 2015, President Obama released an administration draft of a proposed Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights Act. The proposed bill’s stated purpose is to “establish baseline protections for individual privacy in the commercial arena and to foster timely, flexible implementations of these protections through enforceable codes of conduct developed by diverse stakeholders.”

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Patrick Gallagher

Federal Circuit Affirms Denial of AT&T Motion to Extend or Re-open Filing Period for Appeal in Patent Infringement Suit

In Patent Suit Against Apple, Federal Circuit Affirms in Part, Reverses in Part

Federal Circuit Reverses DNA Sequencing Technology Patent Construction

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Wikimedia Sues NSA for Upstream Surveillance

By Paulius Jurcys – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

Wikimedia Foundation filed a suit against the NSA challenging the constitutionality of upstream surveillance programs, which allow the NSA to communicate by Americans and persons abroad. The claim, which was joined by eight other human rights organizations, challenges NSA’s actions as violations of the First and Fourth Amendments of the US Constitution.

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Florida Considers a Bill Outlawing Anonymous Websites

By Paulius Jurcys – Edited by Anton Ziajka

Florida lawmakers are considering a bill, the “True Origin of Digital Goods Act,”  that would require owners and operators of websites that disseminate “commercial” recordings or audiovisual works to prominently disclose their true names, physical addresses, and telephone numbers or email addresses on the websites. The bill extends to all websites that deal “in substantial part” in disseminating such recordings or audiovisual works, “directly or indirectly,” to Florida consumers.

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By Michael Hoven

DOJ Seizes Domains for Alleged Piracy of Apps

The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) seized the domains of three websites that allegedly offered illegal downloads of apps for Android mobile devices, reports the Wall Street Journal Law Blog. It was the first time that the DOJ had seized domains because of app piracy. Previous seizures (like the Megaupload seizure, previously reported on by the Digest) had focused on combating piracy of movies and music.

Oakland’s Police Radio Problems Caused by Interference from AT&T

Oakland police’s radio communications have failed several times since the city began using a new $18 million police radio system in 2011, reports Ars Technica, and the city and the FCC have determined that the source of the problem was interference caused by AT&T cellular communications. Radio communications were especially hampered when a police car was within a quarter-mile of an AT&T cell tower. In response, AT&T has shut down its 2G frequencies at 16 towers around Oakland.

Kanye West Not Liable for Copyright Infringement, Affirms Seventh Circuit

The Seventh Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a copyright infringement claim against Kanye West, Techdirt reports. Vincent Peters (who goes by the stage name “Vince P”) alleged that West’s song “Stronger” infringed on Vince P’s song of the same name. The Seventh Circuit held that there was insufficient similarity between the songs, despite each song’s reliance on Friedrich Nietzsche’s aphorism, “what does not kill me, makes me stronger.” The court noted that the aphorism had been used before by many recording artists, including Kelly Clarkson.

Posted On Aug - 26 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Written By: Jacob Rogers
Edited By: Jeffery Habenicht
Editorial Policy

Introduction

On November 18th-20th, 2011, Major League Gaming hosted a Starcraft II tournament in Providence, Rhode Island, where over 250 professional players competed for a $100,000 prize. Starcraft and Starcraft II (collectively “Starcraft”) are a pair of video games set in a futuristic universe in which players compete against each other by controlling armies of humans with advanced technology or one of two alien races, the enigmatic Protoss, or the swarming Zerg.

This Comment addresses the legal ramifications of publicly broadcasted videogames used as a sport by analyzing Starcraft, one of, if not the most  powerful professionally competitive game. Section I addresses the background of real-time strategy games (“RTS”) and provides an introduction to the professional Starcraft industry. Section II analyzes the recent lawsuit and settlement between Activision Blizzard, Inc. and Korean Starcraft broadcasters and considers how it might have been resolved had it not settled. Section III recommends a change to improve copyright law in light of the unique characteristics of game broadcasting. I argue that Starcraft has transformed into a quasi-public good with governmental, corporate, and private stakeholders, which should limit its creators’ right to enjoin its use through copyright law.

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Posted On Aug - 24 - 2012 2 Comments READ FULL POST

Federal Circuit Reaffirms Patent Eligibility of Isolated Human Genes
By Jie Zhang – Edited by Jeffery Habenicht

Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. USPTO, No. 2010-1406 (Fed. Cir. Aug. 16, 2012)
Slip opinion

The Federal Circuit, on remand from the Supreme Court in light of the Court’s decision in Mayo Collaborative Servs. v. Prometheus Labs., affirmed in part and reversed in part a decision by the Southern District of New York, which had held that isolated breast cancer genes and a screening method based on such genes were non-patentable.

The Federal Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling that it had jurisdiction to hear the declaratory judgment case, finding that at least one plaintiff had standing to challenge Myriad’s patents. On the merits, the Federal Circuit reversed the district court and reiterated its prior holding that isolated genes were patent eligible because they were compositions of matter sufficiently different from the naturally occurring genes. The court also found that the method to screen therapeutics based on the growth rate of cells containing mutated genes was patentable as it included transformative steps and was more than a restatement of the law of nature. However, the court affirmed the district court’s holding that the method to compare gene sequences was non-patentable because it involved only abstract mental steps.

JOLT Digest previously covered both this case and Prometheus. Reuters provides an overview of the case and reports on reactions of the scientific community and the biotech industry. Patently-O criticizes the court’s analysis for ignoring the impact of Prometheus and predicts an en banc rehearing or a grant of certiorari by the Supreme Court. (more…)

Posted On Aug - 22 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

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
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The FCC’s Net Neut

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