A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Trademark Infringement or First Amendment Right of Freedom of Speech?

By Yunnan Jiang – Edited by Paulius Jurcys

On October 11, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“EFF”) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, Inc. (“ACLU”) filed a joint brief in the U.S. Court Of Appeals, urging  that “trademark laws should not be used to impinge the First Amendment rights of critics and commentators”. The brief argues that the use of the names of organizations to comment, critique, and parody, is constitutionally protected by the speaker’s First Amendment right of freedom of expression.

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Twitter goes to court over government restrictions limiting reporting on surveillance requests

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Michael Shammas

Twitter on Oct. 7 sued the government, asking a federal district court to rule that it was allowed to reveal the numbers of surveillance requests it receives in greater detail. Twitter opposes complying with the rules agreed upon by the government and other tech companies in a settlement earlier this year, and argues that the rules violated its rights under the First Amendment.

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Popular Samsung Phones under Investigation for Patent Infringement

By Asher Lowenstein – Edited by Saukshmya Trichi

The US International Trade Commission has instituted an investigation of patent infringement involving some of Samsung’s most popular smartphones. ITC will have to decide whether it is in the public interest to ban a major producer from selling its phones in the US.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Kathleen McGuinness

Two contested patent terms upheld as means-plus-function

Judgment of damages sufficient to render plaintiff a prevailing party for fee awards

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Google Faces Potential Lawsuit in Connection with Celebrity Photo Leaks

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang

Celebrities impacted by the theft and distribution of personal images stored on Apple’s iCloud service may soon head to court seeking damages from Google for continued copyright infringement and privacy violations. Google is accused of failing to remove the private pictures pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) and threatened with a lawsuit for compensatory and punitive damages that could reach over $100,000,000 unless the offending content is promptly taken down.

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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

Written by Susanna Lichter
Edited by Laura Fishwick
Editorial Policy

“CyberPatrol, ” “SniperSpy,” and “IamBigbrother” are the names of keyloggers that might be installed on your office computer. These easy to use and inexpensive hardware or software devices record keystrokes and allow a monitor to access email, and other password-protected accounts of an unsuspecting typist. Employers are using keyloggers more often in the workplace to oversee employees without their knowledge. Managers argue that computer surveillance is important to ensure productivity, but alternative tools like website blockers, remote desktop access and time audits allow employers to determine whether an employee deviated from her task without risking the same breach of trust or employee humiliation associated with keyloggers.

Although keyloggers facilitate a major invasion of privacy, they are legal in many jurisdictions. There is currently no federal law that has been interpreted to prohibit their surreptitious use. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which includes the Federal Wiretap Act (FWA) and the Stored Communication Act (SCA), could potentially prevent keystroke theft, but thus far the protections it offers have not been extended to keyloggers. However, there is evidence that this may soon change. Several recent cases have suggested a broader interpretation of the ECPA than what has previously been held. Additionally, in the absence of a consensus about federal law prohibiting keyloggers, some courts have interpreted state statutes to protect the public from having their strokes stolen. The conflict of interpretations between jurisdictions leaves people in many states vulnerable to invasive employer spying. It also creates a lack of clarity for employers and employees regarding what is considered lawful conduct. The surreptitious use of keyloggers should be subjected to wider regulation by state or federal law. In a few cases courts have diverged from precedent and adopted this position.  (more…)

Posted On Jan - 30 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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free-speech

Trademark Infringeme

By Yunnan Jiang – Edited by Paulius Jurcys Brief for the ...

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Twitter goes to cour

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Michael Shammas Twitter, Inc. vs. ...

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Popular Samsung Phon

By Asher Lowenstein – Edited by Saukshmya Trichi The US International ...

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Federal Circuit Flas

By Kathleen McGuinness Two contested patent terms upheld as means-plus-function The United ...

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Google Faces Potenti

By Amanda Liverzani – Edited by Mengyi Wang Demand Letter to ...