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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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Creating full-text searchable database of copyrighted works is “fair use”
By Yixuan Long- Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

In a unanimous opinion delivered by Judge Parker, the Second Circuit held that under the fair use doctrine universities and research libraries are allowed to create full‐text searchable databases of copyrighted works and provide such works in formats accessible to those with disabilities. The court also decided that the evidence was insufficient to decide whether the plaintiffs had standing to bring a claim regarding storage of digital copies for preservation purposes.

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Federal Circuit Clarifies the Level of Contribution Required for Joint Invention of a Chemical Compound
By Yana Welinder – Edited by Adam Lewin

Falana v. Kent State Univ., No. 2011-1198, 2012 WL 171550 (Fed. Cir. Jan. 23, 2012)
Slip Opinion

The Federal Circuit affirmed in part the ruling of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, which held that Dr. Olusegun Falana should have been listed as co-inventor on a patent that described the use of his protocol for controlled synthesis of a category of chemical compounds for use in liquid crystal displays (“LCDs”).

Judge Linn, joined by Judge Prost and Judge Reyna, affirmed the district court’s order to add Falana as co-inventor to U.S. Patent No. 6,830,789 (filed Sept. 24, 2001) (“the ’789 patent”). The court found that Falana “envisioned the structure of a novel chemical compound and contributed to the method of making it” because he developed a procedure for synthesizing a new class of compounds that was later used to synthesize a compound that exhibited a desired temperature independence. Slip op. at 13. In so holding, the court considered Falana’s contribution to “the entire class of compounds covered by the plain language of the claims” and rejected the defendants’ narrow reading of the claims to be limited to compounds that can perform “across a temperature range of +10°C to +50°C.” Id. at 7, 9.

PatentlyO provides an overview of the case. IP Frontline criticizes the decision because as applied to patents “with countless claims [it] opens the door to the possibility that at least one of the claims was jointly invented by someone not named in the patent,” which might enable patent defendants to recruit unlisted co-inventors as part of a patent litigation defense strategy.  (more…)

Posted On Feb - 7 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Written by Heather Whitney
Edited by Kassity Liu
Editorial Policy

United States v. Jones (U.S. Jan. 23, 2012)
2012 WL 171117; No. 10-1259

In a hotly anticipated decision, the Supreme Court unanimously found that the Government’s warrantless attachment of a Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking device to a vehicle to monitor its movement constituted a Fourth Amendment violation. While unanimous in judgment, the Court split on both its underlying reasoning and with regards to whether the tracking amounted to a search at all. The Court also did not reach the question of whether the search was reasonable. Due to the Court’s fractured analysis, it remains unclear when the Government must obtain a warrant to track a vehicle’s movements, particularly in the case of short-term monitoring. In concurrence, Justice Alito also suggests that if the public views the losses of privacy brought on by new technologies as inevitable, his Katz analysis would be different in future cases.  (more…)

Posted On Feb - 7 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Megaupload.com indicted by Department of Justice
By Daniella Adler – Edited by Abby Lauer

U.S. v. Kim Dotcom et al., 1:12-cr-3 (E.D. Va.)
Indictment

The Department of Justice recently brought a criminal indictment against Megaupload.com and related websites in the Eastern District of Virginia on three different counts of copyright infringement as well as money laundering and racketeering.

The indictment calls the operators of Megaupload.com and its environs the “Mega-Conspiracy” and describes it as a “worldwide criminal organization.” The government estimates that $175 million in profits from subscriptions and advertising comes directly from the large volume of copyrighted material illegally posted on the website. Among the individuals indicted were Megaupload.com founder Kim Dotcom and several of the sites’ main employees and officers.

Currently, when users attempt to access any of the “Mega” sites, they are confronted with an FBI Piracy Warning, which explains that the domain has been seized, states that the “individuals and entities” associated with the crimes have been indicted, and lists the charges.  (more…)

Posted On Feb - 5 - 2012 1 Comment READ FULL POST

District Court Holds that Defendant Cannot Refuse to Decrypt Hard Drive under Fifth Amendment
By Brittany Horth – Edited by Abby Lauer

U.S. v. Fricosu, No. 10-CR-00509 (D. Colo. Jan. 23, 2012)
Slip Opinion hosted by Internet Cases

Judge Robert E. Blackburn of the United States District Court for the District of Colorado granted the government’s motion to compel Ramona Camelia Fricosu to provide an unencrypted copy of her hard drive for evidentiary purposes. The court considered whether the act of producing the unencrypted hard drive was privileged and not whether the contents of the hard drive were privileged.

Judge Blackburn held that the Fifth Amendment is not implicated by requiring Fricosu to provide the government with the unencrypted contents of her laptop pursuant to a valid search warrant.  He reasoned that Fricosu was not being compelled to self-incriminate because the government had already met its burden of proof by demonstrating that it knew of the location and existence of the relevant computer files and it knew that Fricosu was the sole or primary user of the laptop.  Additionally, the government offered immunity to Fricosu, under which it could not use her production of the unencrypted contents against her. The production of the unencrypted hard drive could thus not be incriminating in and of itself.

Time Techland provides a brief overview of the case. Internet Cases features a concise analysis of Judge Blackburn’s reasoning. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, who filed an amicus brief in the case, criticizes the court for “dodg[ing] the question of whether requiring Fricosu to type a passphrase into the laptop would violate the Fifth Amendment” and failing to recognize the potential testimonial value of the encrypted data. CNet News summarizes the long-debated issue of whether a defendant can legally be compelled to decrypt his or her computer files as well as the likelihood that the debate will continue.  (more…)

Posted On Feb - 2 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Susanna Lichter

Google Privacy Revisions Stir Debate
Google announced a new privacy policy last Monday, raising the concerns of privacy advocates, the Washington Post reports. The policy will allow the web giant to collect information across Google services including search, Gmail and YouTube. Google alleges that the changes will “provide, maintain, protect and improve” Google’s functionality as well as generate “more relevant search results and ads” for users. So far the policy has received mixed reviews. Digital rights organizations like Common Sense Media criticized the policy, calling it “frustrating and a little frightening,” and suggesting the inability to opt out of the policy may violate the company’s agreement with the FTC. However, the Telegraph reports that Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner for Justice, who advocates for laws on Internet privacy and data protection, made a statement praising the policy and commending Google’s forward thinking.

Facebook Prepares for IPO Filing
The WSJ reports that Facebook might file for an initial public offering as early as this week in what could be one of the biggest debuts for a U.S. company ever. The 7 year old website, which boasts 800 million members and was famously founded in a Harvard College dorm room, could raise as much as $10 billion and be valued upwards of $100 billion. According to the WSJ, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerburg had been reluctant to go public, fearing it would pose a distraction to the staff. Likely another factor that has kept the young company from going public is the public disclosure requirements. However, as the company fast approaches 500 shareholders, at which point the company would have to publicly report financial information anyway, public disclosure seems inevitable. Morgan Stanley is expected to underwrite the deal, beating out Goldman Sachs who appeared to have the edge on the underwrite a year ago. Morgan Stanley is the leader in Internet stock underwrites with clients including Groupon and LinkedIn Corp.

Feds Arrest Megaupload Execs, Anonymous Retaliates
Seven executives connected to the popular file sharing website Megaupload were arrested last week and the website was shuttered, Wired.com reports. The individuals were indicted on charges including criminal copyright infringement, conspiracy to commit money laundering and racketeering. The government says that the company facilitated in excess of $500 million in harm to copyright holders. Hacker collective “Anonymous” claimed responsibility for retaliatory attacks on the websites of the Justice Department, Recording Industry Association of America, and Universal Music that occurred shortly after Megaupload was taken down. Megaupload’s controversial founder, Kim Schmitz, aka Kim Dotcom, was among the arrests. The site’s chief executive, Swizz Beatz, was not implicated.

Posted On Feb - 1 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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