A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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The Court of Justice of the European Union Finds the Harbor No Longer Safe

Written by: Ann Kristin Glenster - Edited by: David Nathaniel Tan

This fall, the Court of Justice of the European Union delivered a landmark ruling,  holding that the Safe Harbor Agreement on the handling of personal data by U.S. companies in Europe was invalid. This article will give a brief overview of the case, and explore the salient issues to which the European Court took umbrage. Finally, it will attempt to sketch out some possible consequences of the ruling, and the options that now face E.U. and U.S. legislators.

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Yiran Zhang – Edited by Olga Slobodyanyuk

Senators Introduce a Bill which Requires Social Media Companies to Report Terrorist Activity

New EU Copyright Rules Left Possibility for Google Tax

COP21 Reached an “Ambitious and Balanced” Deal on Climate Change

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Flash Digest: News in Brief

By David Nathaniel Tan – Edited by Adi Kamdar

Software Pirate Settles Suit Via YouTube

After Paris Attacks, FCC Chairman Calls for Expanded Wiretap Laws

Hoverboards Declared Illegal in New York City

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Belgian Court Demands that Facebook Stop Tracking Non-Members

By Mila Owen – Edited by Kayla Haran

The Belgian Privacy Commission requested a cessation order against Facebook regarding their practice of placing “datr” cookies on devices of non-Facebook users to track activity on other Facebook pages or on pages containing the “like” or “share” button. The court ruled that this tracking violates the Belgian Privacy Act because it amounts to the collection and “processing of personal data.”

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Facebook not liable for discrimination against Sikhs in India

By Ann Kristin Glenster – Edited by Yaping Zhang

By dismissing Sikhs for Justice Inc.’s case against Facebook for discrimination by blocking the group’s page in India, the United District Court of Northern California maintains the neutrality of interactive online providers and exempts them from liability under Title II of the Civil Rights Act.

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DC Comics v. Pacific Pictures Corp.
By Dorothy Du – Edited by Daniella Adler

DC Comics v. Pacific Pictures Corp., No. CV 10-3633 ODW (RZx), (C.D. Cal. Oct. 17, 2012)
Slip opinion

The District Court for the Central District of California ruled that the heirs of Joseph Shuster, the first illustrator of Superman, signed away their right to reclaim Superman copyrights in an agreement with DC Comics (“DC”). The court granted plaintiff DC’s motion for partial summary judgment.

The court held that a 1992 agreement between the Shusters and DC barred the Shusters from terminating copyright grants to DC. DC Comics, slip. op. at 7. The court also found that section 304(d) of the Copyright Act of 1976, which provides former copyright owners a termination right, did not apply. Id. at 5.

Ars Technica explains copyright termination doctrine and points out that Pacific Pictures Corporation is a joint venture owned by the defendants and their attorney in the case, Toberoff. The Los Angeles Times highlights the importance of the victory to Warner Bros., DC’s parent company. If DC had lost the case, the studio, which is releasing the movie Man of Steel next June, would have been unable to continue using certain elements of the Superman mythos.

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Posted On Oct - 24 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Apple Inc. v. Samsung Elecs. Co.
By David LeRay – Edited by Michael Hoven

Apple Inc. v. Samsung Elecs. Co., No. 2012-1507 (Fed. Cir. Oct. 11, 2012)
Slip opinion

The Federal Circuit reversed the Northern District of California, which had granted a preliminary injunction against Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus smartphone. The case was decided by Judges Prost, Moore, and Reyna, who acted unanimously.

The Federal Circuit held that the district court abused its discretion in finding that Apple established it was at risk of irreparable harm, one of the necessary factors under the eBay test elaborated by the Supreme Court to determine whether to grant a preliminary injunction. See Apple, No. 2012-1507, slip op. at 5 (citing eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, LLC, 547 U.S. 388, 391 (2006)). Specifically, Apple did not prove that a “sufficiently strong causal nexus relates the alleged harm to the alleged infringement.” Id. at 6.

Patently-O provides an overview of the case and argues that the decision elevates the preliminary injunction standard and thus makes it more difficult for patentees to obtain injunctive relief. Reuters states that the case is an implicit endorsement of Judge Richard Posner’s skepticism regarding remedies in the context of smartphone feature patents and that the case is a “palpable blow” to Apple’s smartphone legal strategy.

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Posted On Oct - 22 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Senior Exec. Ass’n v. United States
By Mary Grinman – Edited by Charlie Stiernberg

Senior Exec. Ass’n v. United States, No. 8:12-cv-02297-AW (S.D. Md. Sept. 13, 2012)
Slip opinion

The United States District Court for the Southern District of Maryland granted a motion for a temporary preliminary injunction, enjoining the United States from executing any part of Section 11 of the Stock Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 (“STOCK Act” or “Act”), and from obliging federal employees to divulge any financial information that is subject to Internet publication by federal agencies.

Judge Williams ruled that the plaintiffs’ interests in protecting their privacy are more likely than not to outweigh the government’s interest in disclosing their financial information. Senior Exec. Ass’n, slip op. at 16. The court noted that privacy interests have become more significant in light of the “Information Age,” which makes it possible to rapidly assemble and spread immense quantities of information. Id. at 9.

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog provides a brief overview of the case. Corporate Counsel provides additional background information on the STOCK Act. Joe Davidson of the Washington Post criticizes the Act as “rushed,” and discusses the impact of the Act and the court’s ruling on individual federal employees.

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Posted On Oct - 19 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Authors Guild, Inc. v. HathiTrust
By Natalie Kim – Edited by Laura Fishwick

Authors Guild, Inc. v. HathiTrust, 11-CV-06351-HB (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 10, 2012)
Slip opinion

On Wednesday the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted HathiTrust’s motion for summary judgment on the copyright infringement claims, dismissing the claims brought by the Authors Guild. The HathiTrust Digital Library (“HDL”) is a massive, Google-affiliated book-digitization project led by academic institutions such as the University of California and Indiana University; it had scanned and placed books in the HDL without consulting rights holders. The Authors Guild claimed this violated § 106 and § 108, and sought an injunction against further distribution of the works and impoundment of already scanned works.

The district court held that HathiTrust’s digitization constituted fair use. HDL provides full-text search for copyrighted works for which the rights holder has granted permission and for works in the public domain; 73 percent of the trust’s 10 million books are copyrighted. The affiliated universities have been using HDL for full-text searches, preservation, and access for people with certified print disabilities. Four universities also created full-text access for “orphan works,” which are in-copyright works for which the rights holders are unavailable or otherwise unidentifiable. Google has scanned the books for HDL as part of its Google Books project; a separate litigation between the Authors Guild and Google is stalled on appeal.

Publishers Weekly provides an overview of the case. At Laboratorium, James Grimmelmann predicts the Authors Guild has little chance of a successful appeal due to what he views as the clear victory awarded to HathiTrust and print-disabled codefendants.

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Posted On Oct - 15 - 2012 1 Comment READ FULL POST

By Evelyn Chang

Presidential Commission Calls for Privacy Protections in Genome Sequencing

Science Insider reports that the Presidential Commission on Bioethics has issued a new report on privacy issues associated with whole genome sequencing of patients.  The cost to sequence the entire genome of an individual is dropping rapidly, and genome sequencing is predicted to one day become common practice in medical treatment and research.  However, current guidelines and policies vary by state and do not provide consistent protection against misuse of genomic data.  The report outlines several steps to protect individuals’ private genetic information while encouraging data sharing and research access.

Supreme Court Grants Certiorari in Seed Patent Case

The Supreme Court has granted certiorari in the case of Bowman v. Monsanto Co., reports Wired. The case was originally brought as a patent infringement suit by Monsanto against Bowman, a farmer in Indiana. Bowman had purchased commodity soybeans from a grain elevator for planting, which contained Monsanto’s patented Roundup Ready soybeans. The District Court of the Southern District Indiana granted summary judgment for Monsanto, and the Federal Circuit affirmed. In their petition for certiorari (hosted by SCOTUSblog), Bowman argues that the doctrine of patent exhaustion should apply, or that there should be an exception for self-replicating technologies, such as seeds.

Federal Circuit Ends Injunction Against Samsung Galaxy Nexus

On October 11, the Federal Circuit reversed a preliminary sales injunction on Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus, reports Reuters. In February 2012, Apple brought suit against Samsung in the Northern District of California, alleging that the Galaxy Nexus infringes eight Apple patents. The preliminary injunction was granted based on one of those eight patents, U.S. Patent No. 8,086,604, which is directed towards an apparatus for unified search. Earlier this month, the San Jose Mercury News reported that U.S. District Judge Koh also dissolved an injunction against Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet.

Patentability of Software to be Reconsidered En Banc by Federal Circuit

The Federal Circuit has ordered an en banc rehearing to consider the patentability of software in CLS Bank Int’l. v. Alice Corp., App. No. 2011-1301 (Fed. Cir. 2012). PatentlyO reports that the Federal Circuit has reformulated the questions presented to consider how to determine when a computer-implemented invention is an unpatentable abstract idea, and whether method, systems, and storage medium claims for software should be considered equivalent.  The court has also invited the USPTO to file an amicus curiae brief. In the original decision (previously covered by the Digest), now vacated, the court held two to one that computer programs are patentable post-Prometheus.

Posted On Oct - 14 - 2012 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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