A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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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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Hernandez v. Path, Inc.
By Kathleen McGuinness – Edited by Charlie Stiernberg

Hernandez v. Path, Inc., No. 12-CV-01515 YGR (N.D. Cal. Oct. 17, 2012)
Slip opinion

In a class-action privacy lawsuit over a photo sharing app’s alleged unauthorized access of user data, the District Court for the Northern District of California held that the plaintiff has Article III standing, but dismissed six of the ten claims. The court held that neither a slight loss of phone battery life nor hypothetical future risks to the security of user data were sufficient harms to establish standing, but ruled that the expense of paying an expert to remove the unwanted software could be sufficient. It also allowed a negligence claim to go forward, noting that California courts have not foreclosed the possibility of liability for third-party app developers who negligently collect user data.

MediaPost provides a short overview of the case. Internetcases discusses the holding for each claim in more detail. The Technology & Marketing Law Blog criticizes the decision, expressing concern about the implications of allowing the negligence claim.

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

By Michelle Sohn

Posthumously Conceived Twins from Michigan Seek Deceased Father’s Social Security Benefits

On Thursday, the Michigan Supreme Court heard oral arguments on whether posthumously conceived twins are entitled to their father’s Social Security benefits, reports ABC News. The twins—aged 10—were conceived through in vitro fertilization, using sperm stored while their father, Jeffrey Mattison, underwent chemotherapy.  Months before Mr. Mattison’s death, the twins’ mother, Pamela Mattison, had been preparing for the in vitro treatment according to her attorneys. Mrs. Mattison conceived the twins in January 2001, weeks after Mr. Mattison’s death. While the case is one of first impression for the Michigan Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a similar issue earlier this year. In Astrue v Capato, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the eligibility of posthumously conceived children for social security benefits should be decided according to statutory requirements or a state’s intestacy law. The Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling in this case will decide whether Michigan’s law permits children conceived after a biological parent’s death to inherit benefits.

Ninth Circuit to Decide Whether a Sent E-Mail Can Create Agency

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit took on the question of whether a sent, but unread, e-mail can give rise to a contract claim, reports Law Technology News. The question arises from a contract dispute between Paramount, an almond and pistachio company, and Ventilex B.V., a Dutch manufacturer. The plaintiff in the dispute, Paramount, contracted with the defendant’s American sales unit, Ventilex U.S.A., to buy the defendant’s almond pasteurizing machine. According to the contract, Ventilex U.S.A. guaranteed the machine’s approval by and compliance with government regulations. However, the machine was not able to obtain governmental approval and Ventilex U.S.A eventually went bankrupt. Paramount then brought suit against Ventilex B.V. Pointing to an e-mail from Ventilex U.S.A to the defendant regarding the machine’s guaranteed government approval, the plaintiff argues that Ventilex U.S.A. was acting as an agent for the defendant. However, the defendant never responded to the e-mail and it is unclear whether the e-mail was actually read.

Google Transparency Report Released

Earlier this week, Google released a new report on transparency, reports Ars Technica. The report is released twice a year and discloses statistics on traffic, removal requests, and user data requests. According to the report, the U.S. government made the most requests for user data. From January to June 2012, the U.S. made nearly 8,000 requests for user data and Google complied with these requests 90% of the time. Overall, approximately 34,000 Google users were subject to surveillance requests by governments worldwide. The report also reveals that removal requests for copyrighted materials grew exponentially. The Microsoft Corporation has made the most removal requests for copyrighted material so far this year.

Posted On Nov - 17 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Michael Hoven

Supreme Court to Hear DNA Privacy Case

The Supreme Court granted certiorari in Maryland v. King,  a case involving the warrantless collection of DNA from an arrestee, the Washington Post reported.  In 2009, Maryland instituted routine DNA collection from people arrested for violent crimes; Alonzo King, Jr. was arrested for assault in 2009, and a cheek swab connected him to a 2003 rape, for which he was later convicted. The Maryland Supreme Court overturned the conviction on the grounds that the DNA collection violated King’s Fourth Amendment rights.

Canada Invalidates Viagra Patent

The Canadian Supreme Court invalidated Pfizer’s patent on Viagra for failing to meet the disclosure requirements of the Canadian Patent Act, reported Reuters. The court accused Pfizer of trying “to ‘game’ the system” with its patent. The ruling was a victory for Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, which had previously, and unsuccessfully, sued Pfizer in the United States, Spain, Norway, and New Zealand.

Sixth Circuit Affirms Ruling against Attorney Who Made Fake Child Pornography for Defense Case

An attorney in Ohio digitally altered two photos of minors to display them in sexually explicit acts, and used those images at two separate trials to argue that child pornography laws are overbroad because it is too difficult to detect whether or not a given image is of a minor. As Ars Technica reports, the attorney, Dean Boland—a former state prosecutor and frequent expert witness in child pornography cases—was held liable for $300,000 in a civil suit brought by the families of the two girls whose images were altered, and the Sixth Circuit has now affirmed the decision. The Sixth Circuit rejected Boland’s First Amendment argument, which emphasized that the images were created for courtroom use. The court stated that the creation of “morphed images” to make his point was “an option Congress explicitly forbade.”

Posted On Nov - 13 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Voter Verified, Inc. v. Premier Election Solutions, Inc.
By Craig Fratrik – Edited by Laura Fishwick

Voter Verified, Inc. v. Premier Election Solutions, Inc., Nos. 2011-1553, 2012-1017, 2012 WL 5382734 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 5, 2012)
Slip opinion

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Middle District of Florida’s ruling that the defendants, Premier Software Solutions, Inc., Diebold, Inc., and Election Systems & Software, Inc., had not infringed U.S. Reissue Patent No. RE40,449 (the ’449 Patent) held by Voter Verified, Inc., and that one of its claims was invalid for obviousness. The district court had held that claim 49 was invalid for obviousness under 35 U.S.C. § 103 and claim 94 was invalid for indefiniteness under 35 U.S.C. §112. Voter Verified appealed both the rulings of non-infringement and invalidity as to claim 49.

Voter Verified’s patent was issued on August 5, 2008 and claims a system and method for verified voting in an election comprising both generating a temporary digital record of the vote and then a corresponding printed ballot. A computer scans the printed vote for accuracy against the digital vote, and only records accurate votes. Defendants produce and market verified voting systems that use the voter herself to check the printed ballot for accuracy. Critical for the disposition in this case, an online periodical concerned with computer safety and security called the Risks Digest originally published a similar idea in the Benson article in 1986 via a subscription mailing list and made it available online in 1995, well before the ’449 Patent’s priority date in 2000.

Patently-O provides an overview of the prior art and joint infringement holdings in the case, and notes that the opinion, issued the day before the presidential election (and on appeal from the Middle District of Florida), did not force the court to intervene in voting in Florida. Patents4Life discusses how the “sufficiently accessible” standard leads to tricky questions and potential implications for what sort of online resources will constitute prior art.

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Posted On Nov - 12 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Unites States v. Magana
By Casey Holzapfel – Edited by Geng Chen

United States v. Magana, No. 12-CR-154 (E.D. Wis. Oct. 29, 2012)
Order

United States v. Mendoza, No. 12-CR-154 (WCG/WEC) (E.D. Wis. Oct. 9, 2012)
Recommendation

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin ruled that Wisconsin law enforcement officers did not violate the Fourth Amendment when they installed hidden surveillance cameras on private property without a warrant. Judge William Griesbach accepted the recommendation of Magistrate Judge William Callahan to deny the defendants’ requests to suppress evidence obtained through the use of hidden cameras. Magana, slip op. at 1.

The court held that the installation of surveillance equipment did not violate the Fourth Amendment because it was placed outside the “curtilage”—the land surrounding the house where private activities are expected to take place. Mendoza, slip op. at 3–4.

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Posted On Nov - 8 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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