A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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Aereo Struggles as Supreme Court Finds It Violated Copyright Law
By Jenny Choi – Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

On June 25, 2014, in its 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled against Aereo, Inc.  The U.S. Supreme Court held that Aereo violated the Copyright Act of 1976 for streaming TV shows shortly after they were broadcast without paying for the copyrighted works.  As a result, Aereo suspended its service and has struggled to find a way to re-operate its business. This decision has not come without criticism, however, as some warn this ad hoc decision could lead to uncertainty in the courts.

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DRIP Bill Expands UK’s Data Surveillance Power

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Insue Kim

House of Lords passed the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill (“DRIP”) on July 17, 2014. DRIP empowers the UK government to require all companies providing internet-based services to UK customers to retain customer metadata for 12 months. It also expands the government’s ability to directly intercept phone calls and digital communications from any remote storage. Critics claim the bill goes far beyond what is necessary and its fast-track timeframe prevents meaningful discussion.

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Federal Circuit Grants Stay of Patent Infringement Litigation Until PTAB Can Complete a Post-Grant Review

By Kyle Pietari – Edited by Insue Kim

Reversing the district court’s decision, the Federal Circuit granted a stay of patent infringement litigation proceedings until the PTAB can complete a post-grant patent validity review. This was the court’s first ruling on a stay when the suit and review process were happening concurrently.

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Ninth Circuit Rejects Fox’s Request to Shut Down Dish Services, Despite Aereo Decision

By Sheri Pan – Edited by Insue Kim

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Fox’s motion for a preliminary injunction.  Fox argued that the technologies would irreparably harm Fox because they violate copyright laws, but the Ninth Circuit ruled that the district court did not err in finding that the harm alleged by Fox was speculative, noting that Fox had failed to present evidence documenting such harm.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Patrick Gutierrez

Senate passes bill to make cell phone unlocking legal

ABA urges lawyers to stop pursuing file sharing lawsuits

FBI cautions that driverless cars may be used to assist criminal behavior

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Third Circuit Affirms Prior Decision to Strike Down FCC Fine for CBS Broadcast of Janet Jackson’s Breast During Super Bowl Halftime Show
By Abby Lauer – Edited by Albert Wang

CBS Corp. v. FCC, No. 06-3575 (3d Cir. Nov. 2, 2011)
Slip Opinion

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed its earlier decision throwing out a $550,000 fine that the Federal Communications Commission imposed on broadcasting corporation CBS for airing a split-second image of Janet Jackson’s exposed breast during the 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Reaching the same conclusion as it had in a 2008 ruling, the Third Circuit held that CBS’s broadcast was legal under the FCC’s policy at the time, which permitted networks to air instances of “fleeting” indecency without being sanctioned. The Court of Appeals ruled that it was arbitrary and capricious for the FCC to change its policy retroactively and impose a steep fine on CBS without notifying the network of the policy change. In reaffirming its 2008 ruling, the Third Circuit declined to change its position in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in FCC v. Fox Television Stations, Inc., 129 S. Ct. 1800 (2009), which upheld the FCC’s decision to abandon its safe harbor for broadcasted expletives that are not repeated. The Third Circuit stated that “Fox confirms our previous ruling in this case and that we should readopt our earlier analysis and holding that the [FCC] acted arbitrarily . . . .” Slip op. at 5.

SCOTUSblog provides an overview of the case. Ars Technica also describes the decision and discusses possible implications for future prime time broadcasts.

(more…)

Posted On Nov - 8 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Michael Hoven

Zediva Closes Permanently, Pays $1.8 Million in Settlement

The streaming movie service Zediva has agreed to shut down permanently and pay $1.8 million to settle its lawsuit with Hollywood studios, Wired reports. (The MPAA is hosting the consent decree from the Central District Court of California.) The studios sued Zediva in April, one month after it launched its service. Zediva let users watch movies online by remotely renting and operating DVDs and DVD players owned and stored by Zediva. Zediva argued that because it rented DVDs to only one customer at a time, it operated like a video rental store and did not need to have licensing agreements with studios. As JOLT Digest previously reported, this argument did not stop the district court from issuing a preliminary injunction against Zediva in August. PCMag.com reports that the MPAA applauded the “strong message” Zediva’s shutdown sent to potential infringers and considered the shutdown a victory for the film industry.

Power Rangers Halloween Costumes Lead to Lawsuit

Owners of the intellectual property rights associated with the Power Rangers television series have sued the operators of a website for selling the Power Rangers’ colorful uniforms as Halloween costumes, according to The Hollywood Reporter. SBC Power Rangers LLC alleges that the costumes sold at MyPartyShirt.com (operated by Underdog Endeavors) infringe its copyrights and trademarks. Though clothing is not eligible for copyright because of its utilitarian function, “individual design elements” may be copyrightable. The Celebrity Justice blog at Findlaw says that while the patterns on the Power Rangers costumes could be protected by copyright, the stronger claim is that MyPartyShirt.com violated a trademark by using the Power Rangers name on its site.

U.S. Marshals to Seize Righthaven’s Assets to Pay Legal Fees

The District Court of Nevada ordered U.S. Marshals to seize $63,720 that Righthaven owes in legal fees as a result of its ill-fated lawsuit against blogger Wayne Hoehn, reports paidContent. The court dismissed Righthaven’s copyright suit against Hoehn this summer and awarded legal fees to Hoehn. Righthaven claimed that it could not afford to pay the roughly $30,000 award; the size of the award has since doubled as Hoehn’s lawyers have worked to enforce the judgment. While Righthaven’s legal strategy—the lawsuit against Hoehn was one of nearly 300 similar suits—garnered it some favorable settlements, it has not succeeded in court, as JOLT Digest has reported. Righthaven owes a variety of defendants over $200,000 in legal fees, according to Poynter, and may end up in bankruptcy.

Posted On Nov - 7 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

By Susanna Lichter

New Cyberweapon Duqu Possibly Spawned from Stuxnet Worm

Computer security analysts warn that Stuxnet, the sophisticated worm that wreaked havoc on Iran’s nuclear program, could be a precursor to more cyber attacks on industrial control systems, according to The Washington Post. There is definite evidence that Duqu, a dangerous new weapon that appears to borrow some of the Stuxnet original source code, was used in an attack last month. The New York Times reports that authorities are divided as to whether Duqu was created by reverse-engineering Stuxnet or if it was wholly made from scratch; however, the Hungarian lab that discovered Duqu says the two cyberweapons are “nearly identical.” The news raises fears that attackers could use these cyber devices to hack into the world’s infrastructure and manipulate water treatment facilities, power plants, and other critical systems.

FBI Announces Timline for Implementing Controversial Facial Recognition Tools

Next.gov reports the Federal Bureau of Investigation will begin implementing the use of facial recognition services as early as January, according to bureau officials. The new tools are designed to find matches from among the 10 million mug shots housed in the FBI database when uploaded with a picture of a suspected criminal. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has expressed concern that the new features will create false positives and infringe on people’s privacy rights.

Hacker Collective Anonymous Warns of Forthcoming Attack on Fox News

CNET reports that Hacker activist group Anonymous released a video unveiling plans to infiltrate the Fox News website early next month. The collective, which has aligned itself with the Occupy Wall Street movement, says the attack is a retaliation of Fox News’ biased coverage of the OWS protests. In another video issued last week, Anonymous demanded the release of one of its members who was kidnapped by the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas while attending a protest in Veracruz, Mexico. The Houston Chronicle reports that Anonymous has threatened to publish the identities and addresses of Los Zetas’ associates if its demands are not met by November 5th. Anonymous also made headlines multiple times last week, taking responsibility for operations targeted at police websites and child pornography servers. The collective hacked into a Boston law enforcement site’s server, altering the website’s homepage and leaking police names and passwords. They also took 40 child pornography sites offline.

Posted On Nov - 3 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

District Court Strikes Poster and Sticker Requirements from San Francisco Cell Phone Health Risk Ordinance
By Heejin Choi – Edited by Charlie Stiernberg

CTIA – The Wireless Ass’n v. City and Cnty. of S.F., Cal., No. C 10-03224 WHA (N.D. Cal. Oct. 27, 2011)
Slip Opinion hosted by Justia.com

The District Court for the Northern District of California, ruling on a motion for preliminary injunction against San Francisco’s “Cell Phone Disclosure Requirements” ordinance, temporarily stayed the measure until necessary revisions were made.

The ordinance requires cell phone retailers to inform customers of the possible harmful effects of cell phone radiation by displaying informational posters on its walls, placing stickers on other displays, and providing a fact-sheet to customers, regardless of whether they purchased a cell phone or not.

Judge William Alsup concluded that changes must be made to the fact-sheet to comply with the First Amendment. He further held that the posters and stickers were unconstitutional, even with the changes.

TechCrunch provides an overview of the case. Ars Technica mentions a recently conducted study showing no link between cancer and cell phone usage.  (more…)

Posted On Nov - 2 - 2011 2 Comments READ FULL POST

Stop Online Piracy Act Seeks to Block Piracy Websites
By Amy Rossignol – Edited by Charlie Stiernberg

H.R. 3261 – Stop Online Piracy Act
Bill

The proposed Stop Online Piracy Act, introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX), would vest in the U.S. Attorney General the power to regulate and prevent access to foreign websites infringing on U.S. Intellectual Property (“IP”) rights. The U.S. Attorney General, with court approval, would be able to issue orders to block access to and commercial transactions with the suspected websites.

The bill would grant immunity from liability to Internet service providers, payment network providers, advertising services, or domain name registries that choose to voluntarily block or end affiliation with a website suspected of being “dedicated to theft of U.S. property.” The bill also seeks to ban any tools designed to circumvent or bypass such measures.

Ars Technica provides an overview of the bill. Wired compares the bill to the Senate’s Protect IP Act. The Los Angeles Times discusses more of the political motivation behind the bill. (more…)

Posted On Oct - 31 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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