A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
http://jolt.law.harvard.edu/digest/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/joltimg.pngWritten by: Michelle Sohn Edited by: Olga Slobodyanyuk Emulsion: A mixture of two or more liquids that are normally immiscible (nonmixable or unblendable). -Wikipedia  I.               UberX D.C. as Case Study in the Local Sharing Economy If states are laboratories of democracy, then cities are the experiments. A new experiment has bubbled up in cities across the world, reaching a boiling point. The experiment? The local sharing economy. In May, amidst accusations that many of its users were violating New York’s ... Read More...
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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Olga Slobodyanyuk

ICANN responds to terrorism victims by claiming domain names are not property

D.C. District Court rules that FOIA requests apply to officials’ personal email accounts

Class-action lawsuit brought against ExamSoft  in Illinois

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Federal Circuit Applies Alice to Deny Subject Matter Eligibility of Digital Imaging Patent

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang

In Digitech Image Technologies, the Federal Circuit embraced the opportunity to apply the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Alice to resolve a question of subject matter eligibility under 35 U.S.C. §101. The Federal Circuit affirmed summary judgment on appeal, invalidating Digitech’s patent claims because they were directed to intangible information and abstract ideas.

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Unlocking Cell Phones Made Legal through Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Insue Kim

Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act allows consumers to unlock their cell phones when changing service providers, but the underlying issue of “circumvention” may have broader implications for other consumer devices and industries that increasingly rely on software.

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SDNY Magistrate Grants Government Search Warrant for Full Access to Suspect’s Gmail Account in Criminal Investigation

By Kellen Wittkop – Edited by Travis West

In an opinion that conflicts with decisions from the DC District Court and the District of Kansas, a SDNY magistrate granted the government’s search warrant for full access to a criminal investigation suspect’s Gmail account.

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By Marsha Sukach

EU Court Says Social Networks Cannot Be Forced to Monitor Users

The European Court of Justice ruled that social networks cannot be required to monitor users solely for the purpose of stopping piracy, reports CNET. The court said that such a requirement created a complicated and costly burden on the sites, and that it might endanger the privacy of user data by forcing sites to identify and analyze information connected to user profiles. According to the Wall Street Journal, the ruling came after a Belgian copyright manager, SABAM, filed a lawsuit against social network Netlog NV for allowing users to access SABAM’s portfolio of music and video.  This ruling is notable because it comes just after two anti-piracy bills—the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA)—became controversial issues in the United States. Critics of these acts argued that enabling law enforcement to erase sites containing allegedly pirated material would also put legitimate sites in danger.

Minnesota Court Denies Restraining Order for Harassing Photos

Olson v. LaBrie, 2012 WL 426585 (Minn. App. February 13, 2012)
Appellant sought a harassment restraining order against his uncle, claiming that his uncle posted embarrassing family photos of appellant on Facebook, with mean commentary. According to the Technology and Marketing Law Blog, the Court of Appeals of Minnesota affirmed the trial court’s denial of the restraining order, saying that photos and comments were mean and disrespectful, but cannot form the basis for liability. According to Internet Cases, the court derived the definition of harassment from the statute, which provides that a restraining order is appropriate to guard against “substantial adverse effects” on the privacy of another. The court refused to consider common law invasion of privacy violations to determine whether the statute called for a restraining order.

Associated Press Sues News Aggregator Over ‘Parasitic Business Model’

The Associated Press is suing Meltwater Group, a paid news subscription company, saying that Meltwater’s subscription service charges a fee for “content created at the expense and through the labor of others.” Ars Technica reports that Meltwater has about 18,000 customers, who pay at least $5,000 annually for searchable content that the company gathers from 162,000 online news sources. According to the International Business Times, the AP is asking a federal judge to block the service from continuation and seeks damages up to $150,000 per infringement. Meltwater has responded that it respects copyright, and merely performs the services of a search engine, customized for paying customers who use it to track stories via keywords. Flash Digest covered a similar suit in 2009, in which the AP defeated All Headline News, a company that repurposed AP content for its subscribers.

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

By Heejin Choi and Dorothy Du – Edited by Julie Dorais

This past August, the Digest summarized some of the legal challenges that major service providers of online music and video streaming faced. Below are updates of select stories:

Grooveshark – All Four Major Record Labels Are Now Suing

Back in August 2011, the Digest reported that Universal Music Group, a major record label, filed a copyright infringement suit against Grooveshark, the popular music streaming service. Universal accused Grooveshark employees of posting more than 100,000 pirated songs, CNET explains. The lawsuit is still pending, and Wired reports that Universal could be seeking the maximum damages of a whopping $150,000 per song. In December 2011, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group joined the lawsuit through an amended complaint, according to UPI. Most recently, on January 4, 2012, EMI Music Publishing sued Grooveshark’s parent company Escape Media for breach of contract, CNET reports. The New York Times reports that EMI has accused Grooveshark of failing to make a single royalty payment to EMI since signing a music licensing pact with EMI in 2009. CNET says Grooveshark maintains that it is protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s safe harbor provision, 17 U.S.C. §512(c), which immunizes online service providers from acts of copyright infringement committed by their users under certain conditions. With EMI’s suit, all four major record labels are now suing Grooveshark.

Cloud Music (Amazon, Google and Apple) – MP3tunes Decision Affirms Legality

JOLT Digest reported back in August 2011 that providers of “cloud music” services and apps, such as Amazon, Google, and Apple, may be vulnerable to suits for copyright infringement because the music uploaded by users could have illegal origins. On August 22, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York handed down its opinion in a lawsuit by EMI against MP3tunes, a cloud-based online music locker service similar to those provided by Amazon, Google, and Apple. See Capitol Records, Inc. v. MP3tunes, LLC, 07 Civ. 9931 (S.D.N.Y. Aug. 22, 2011). Wired explains that rather than requiring every user who wanted the same song to upload it separately, MP3tunes employed a bandwidth-saving strategy in which its software would check the server to see if the song was previously uploaded. If a match existed, the song would be added to the user’s digital music “locker” without requiring an upload. JOLT Digest summarized Judge Pauley’s opinion, which held that MP3tunes met the legal threshold to be protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s safe harbor provision.

The MP3tunes decision was good news for Google and Amazon because it affirmed the legality of cloud music services. Moreover, it cleared the way for them to take advantage of similar space-saving techniques. Up to then, both had required users to upload every song, regardless of whether it had previously been uploaded by another user, Wired reports. In November 2011, Apple launched a $25-a-year iTunes Match service, which, similar to MP3tunes, scans users’ iTunes music collection and cross-references the songs with its servers, according to Time Techland. That same week, Google Music launched. Mashable reports that the two services would compete with Amazon’s Cloud Player, which had been launched earlier. Amazon’s Cloud Player was removed from Apple’s App Store in November, however, because of “legal complications with the music industry,” Apple Insider states.

Although currently free of legal troubles, Google requested permission from the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on February 1 to file an amicus brief in support of ReDigi. In its letter to the court on behalf of Google, Fenwick & West expressed concern over the case’s threat to the cloud computing industry. The court, however, denied Google’s request.

Zediva – Movie Streaming Service Closes Operations in Settlement Agreement

In October, 2011, the online movie streaming service Zediva and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) reached a settlement to resolve a lawsuit filed by Hollywood last April, as covered by The Hollywood Reporter. In August, 2011, the MPAA won a preliminary injunction to effectively shut down Zediva, which operated with no licensing agreements with the studios, Wired reports. The Digest covered the legal debate this past August. Zediva originally appealed this decision to the Ninth Circuit, according to The Hollywood Reporter, but has now agreed to permanently discontinue its services and resolve all claims for $1.8 million.

ReDigi – Court Denies Preliminary Injunction Against Used Music Dealer

On February 6, 2012, a federal district court judge denied Capitol Records’ request for a preliminary injunction against ReDigi, ExtremeTech reports. ReDigi sells “used” digital tracks using a software that it claims can identify files that have been legally purchased and restrict a user’s access to such files once the user sells them through its marketplace. This past January, Capitol Records sued ReDigi for copyright infringement in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (complaint available at Copyright’em) seeking both a preliminary injunction to shut down the website and $150,000 per track in damages. Capitol Records alleged that “ReDigi makes and assists its users in making systemic, repeated, and unauthorized reproductions and distributions of Plaintiff’s copyrighted sound recordings” and that it acts as a “clearinghouse for copyright infringement.” Judge Sullivan denied the request for the preliminary injunction on the basis that Capitol Records could not show irreparable harm, and the parties now await further proceedings, Intellectual Property Magazine reports. Wired.com hosts the brief order, and attorney Ray Beckerman’s website provides an excerpt of the court transcript. According to ExtremeTech, this suit could have important implications regarding the application of the “first sale doctrine” under the Copyright Act of 1976, by which the purchaser and owner of a product has the legal right to resell that product.

Heejin Choi is a 1L at Harvard Law School, and Dorothy Du is a 2L at Harvard Law School.

Posted On Feb - 18 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Written by Raquel Acosta
Edited by Adam Lewin
Editorial Policy

I. Introduction

Artificial intelligence (“AI”) is, simply put, “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines.”[1] Quintessential examples of artificially intelligent machines include Hal from 2001 Space Odyssey or the robots from Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot series of short stories. Many of the things we think of when we think of true artificial intelligence — such as understanding nuanced language, solving novel problems, or learning through experience — are just starting to be real phenomena.[2] While self-aware robots remain within the realm of fiction, developments in the field of artificial intelligence are advancing our understanding of what computers are and what they are capable of being.

Increasingly, sophisticated computer programs call into question some of the foundational assumptions within the intellectual property (“IP”) regime by autonomically producing works which, if executed by a human author, would qualify for copyright protection. Copyright is intended to “promote the progress of Science and the useful Arts”[3] and grants a limited monopoly to authors over the production and dissemination over their creative expression with the aim of incentivizing more creative work than it inhibits by locking down creative capital.[4] Machines have no intention of creating novel works, nor do they consider incentives as such. With our current technology, only humans can make genuinely creative choices. It remains an open question as to whom, if anyone, would get the rights if all the innovative or novel contributions were the work of a machine.[5] This Comment discusses innovations in AI technology that possess a high enough degree of autonomous computational creativity to require re-examination of copyright standards.  (more…)

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

By Andrew Crocker

EPIC Sues FTC Over Google’s Impending Privacy Changes

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has filed suit against the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in an attempt to force the FTC to step in before Google changes its user privacy policy on March 1, reports PC World. EPIC’s complaint alleges that Google’s privacy changes will violate the consent order that the company reached with the FTC last year in settlement of the Commission’s investigation of Google Buzz. EPIC is seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the FTC, a move the Los Angeles Times calls “an unusual end run” to get the Commission to act. According to the Washington Post blog, the suit has been fast-tracked, and a preliminary ruling is expected before the new policy goes into effect.

Court Refuses to Shut Down MP3 Resale Site

Ars Technica reports that a federal district judge has refused Capitol Records’ motion for a temporary injunction against the music website ReDigi. ReDigi is a “used” MP3 site that allows users to resell music purchased through Apple’s iTunes store to other users. According to the ReDigi site, the sale is accomplished through a proprietary verification process that ensures no illegal copying takes place. ReDigi claims the service is protected by the first sale doctrine, which allows legal owners of physical works to sell or rent them to others. CNET reports, however, that Capitol has argued that ReDigi must make copies during its verification process, a use not covered by the first sale doctrine.

Washington D.C. Repeals Online Gambling Law

The Washington D.C. city council has voted to repeal the city’s online gambling law, according to the Washington Post. The measure, which had not yet gone into effect, was the first law passed by an American jurisdiction to create a city-run poker site for bettors located within the jurisdiction. Although online gambling has been controversial and a number of poker sites have been ruled to violate state and federal law, Reuters reports that D.C. legislators voted to repeal because of a lack of transparency in how the contract to run the site was awarded.

Posted On Feb - 13 - 2012 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Charlie Stiernberg

What Changed in Google’s Privacy Policy

Google recently announced changes to its privacy policy and terms of service, prompting concerns by a bipartisan group of congressmen over the future safety of customer data. Reuters reports that Pablo Chavez, Google’s director of public policy, responded directly to the lawmakers’ questions in a letter, stating that “the updated privacy policy does not allow us to collect any new or additional types of information about users.” The Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”) applauded Google’s efforts to notify its customers of the changes, but criticized the company for not adequately explaining what it meant until after the congressional inquiry. According to EFF, the major substantive changes include (1) combining all of Google’s separate product policies into one, (2) removing the separation between customer data sets stored in each of those products, and (3) using the information obtained from one product in another. The new privacy policy goes into effect on March 1, 2012.

Intel Purchases $120M in Patents from RealNetworks

Intel agreed to pay RealNetworks $120 million for 190 patents and 170 patent applications covering RealNetworks’s streaming video codec technology. The Wall Street Journal reports that this is the latest in a set of large patent purchases by major technology companies, which peaked in June with the Nortel Networks patent auction. Competition in the smartphone and tablet markets has become more intense and patents more important as companies, including Intel, expand their businesses into the mobile sector. According to ZDNet, Intel called some of the patents “foundational,” indicating its belief that that some are important to the company’s efforts in the mobile media space. In addition to the sales agreement, Intel acquired the video codec’s development team, and the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding to develop next-generation video software and related products.

New Mobile Device Privacy Act Proposed

Rep. Edward Markey released draft legislation this week that would require mobile phone carriers to reveal if they are employing tracking software such as Carrier IQ. Wired reports that under the Mobile Device Privacy Act, consumers would have to give their consent before data—including web usage, call history, and text messages—can be sent to third parties. According to Ars Technica, the controversy started when a developer publicized the widespread use of Carrier IQ software on smartphones a few months ago. Rep. Markey said such software should only be used with the consumer’s “express consent,” and emphasized that the legislation is just a “discussion draft” right now. Sprint and Apple both recently announced they are dropping Carrier IQ, but T-Mobile and AT&T still use it. Verizon does not.

Twitter Reveals 4,400+ DMCA Takedown Notices Last Year

Twitter partnered with Chilling Effects, a project sponsored by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, to publish all Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) takedown notices it has received since November 2010. Ars Technica reports that the site lists 4,410 takedown notices in that time frame. While Twitter regularly deletes tweets to gain safe harbor under the DMCA, the company stated that it wants to “be transparent with users.” The Huffington Post breaks down the requests by sender, showing that Magnolia Pictures, a New York film distributor owned by Mark Cuban, was responsible for a third of them. Web Sheriff, a third-party that automates takedown notices for its customers, sent at least half of all the requests in the list.

 

Posted On Feb - 11 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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