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Whack-a-troll Legislation

Written by Asher Lowenstein     —   Edited by Yaping Zhang

Patent assertion entities’ extensive litigation activities in different states enables to assess the efficacy of the proposed bills against legal strategies these trolls, such as MPHJ Technology, have engaged in. The legal battles confirm some of the concerns about the usefulness of proposed regulatory measures.

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3D Systems and Formlabs Settled Two-Year Patent Dispute

By Yixuan Long – Edited by Yaping Zhang

On December 1, 3D Systems and Formlabs settled their two-year legal dispute over the 520 Patent infringement. Terms of the settlement are undisclosed. The patent covered different parts of the stereolithographic three-dimensional printing process, which uses a laser to cure liquid plastic. 3D Systems was granted the ‘520 Patent in 1997. Formlabs views the settlement as enabling it to continue its expansion and keep developing new products.

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Privacy Concerns in the Sharing Economy: The Case of Uber 

By Sabreena Khalid – Edited by Insue Kim

Recent revelations about Uber’s disconcerting use of personal user information have exposed the numerous weaknesses in Uber’s Privacy Policy. The lack of regulation in the area, coupled with the sensitive nature of personal information gathered by Uber, makes the issue one requiring immediate attention of policy makers.

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San Francisco Court Considers Google’s Search and Ad Services Free Speech

By Jens Frankenreiter – Edited by Henry Thomas

A San Francisco court dismissed a lawsuit against Google, treating Google’s search and advertisement services as constitutionally protected free speech. The lawsuit alleged an antitrust violation based on unfavorable treatment of a website in Google’s search results, and on the withdrawal of third-party advertisement from the website. In throwing out the lawsuit, the court applied California’s “anti-SLAPP” law, which allows quick dismissal of lawsuits against acts protected as free speech.

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EU Unitary Patent System Challenge Unsustainable: Advocate General

By Saukshmya Trichi – Edited by Ashish Bakshi

The Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union has rendered an opinion on Spain’s challenges to regulations implementing the European Unitary Patent System. The Advocate General opines that the challenges must be dismissed as the system is intended to provide genuine benefit in terms of uniformity and integration, and safeguard the principle of legal certainty, while the choice of languages reduces translation costs considerably.

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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

The Harvard Journal of Law & Technology recently released its Fall 2011 issue, now available online.  Jane Yakowitz, author of “Tragedy of the Data Commons” has written an abstract of her article for the Digest, presented below.

- The Digest Staff

JOLT Print Preview: Tragedy of the Data Commons
Jane Yakowitz

The data that fuels most of the quantitative health and policy research in this country is publicly available data that has undergone some sort of anonymization process. This is the data commons, and unwittingly, we are all in it. Our tax returns, medical records, and school records, among other things, seed its pastures and facilitate a wide range of empirical studies.

In theory the data commons gives us the best of both worlds by allowing researchers to test hypotheses and produce generalizable results without exposing anybody’s personal information. But in practice, we all shoulder some risk that a bad actor might use auxiliary information to reidentify us, and discover our private information. The looming policy question, raised by Paul Ohm and the Federal Trade Commission, is whether current data privacy policies in the United States strike the right balance between the risks of reidentification attacks and the utility of data-sharing. Paul Ohm and other scholars believe the risk is too high, that we need stronger privacy laws to protect data subjects. This article comes to the exact opposite conclusion: the utility of public research data is so great, and the realistic risks so small, that the law should foster the sharing of anonymized data.  (more…)

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