A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
http://jolt.law.harvard.edu/digest/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/joltimg.pngWritten by: Michelle Sohn Edited by: Olga Slobodyanyuk Emulsion: A mixture of two or more liquids that are normally immiscible (nonmixable or unblendable). -Wikipedia  I.               UberX D.C. as Case Study in the Local Sharing Economy If states are laboratories of democracy, then cities are the experiments. A new experiment has bubbled up in cities across the world, reaching a boiling point. The experiment? The local sharing economy. In May, amidst accusations that many of its users were violating New York’s ... Read More...
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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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Federal Circuit Upholds Patentability Of Isolated Genes
By Albert Wang – Edited by Kassity Liu

Ass’n for Molecular Pathology v. USPTO, No. 2010-1406 (Fed. Cir. July 29, 2011)
Slip Opinion

The Federal Circuit reversed the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on the issues of whether Myriad’s patent claims regarding the BRCA gene and BRCA screening were valid. The Circuit affirmed on the issues of standing and patentability of Myriad’s method of comparing DNA sequences.

Judge Lourie, writing for the Circuit, reasoned that the isolated BRCA gene was chemically different from the gene in its naturally occurring state. Similarly, Myriad’s patient-screening included enough transformation to be patent-eligible.

PatentlyO provides an overview of the case. Genomics Law Report provides further analysis and predicts further uncertainty to come with regard to gene patents, noting that the decision only curtails attacks based on patentability of the subject matter. PharmaPatents criticizes the court’s distinction between isolated DNA and other products extracted from nature. The Digest previously covered the district court’s decision(more…)

Posted On Aug - 12 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

by Heather Whitney

Google calls competitors’ patent acquisition anticompetitive; Microsoft claims Google was invited

Techcrunch reports that Google accused Microsoft of buying the Nortel patents in order to supress competition from Android, Google’s popular mobile operating system. On Wednesday, Google SVP and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond released a blog post calling, among other things, the recent Nortel patent auction win by a consortium including competitors Microsoft, Apple, and Oracle anticompetitive, done to stifle Android innovation through litigation. On Thursday, Microsoft’s General Counsel, Brad Smith, tweeted a response, explaining that Microsoft asked Google to bid jointly but Google refused. Microsoft’s Head of Communication tweeted a follow-up, attaching an image of an email sent from Kent Walker, Google’s GC, to Microsoft’s GC, where Google expressly declined to bid jointly. Google responded again, as did Microsoft. In the end, Google contends that a joint bid would not have protected Android from patent litigation since Microsoft would have the patents too. Microsoft argues Google refused to join in the bid because Google was looking to buy up additional patents to use to go after Microsoft.

Facebook’s Marketing Director says online anonymity has to “go away”, leaves Facebook to start her own media company

According to the Huffington Post, during a discussion last Tuesday on cyber bullying, Facebook’s Marketing Director Randi Zuckerberg gave a solution: get rid of online anonymity all together. “I think anonymity on the Internet has to go away. People behave a lot better when they have their real names down… I think people hide behind anonymity and they feel like they can say whatever they want behind closed doors.” The EFF responded, claiming that while private companies like Facebook can require users to give their real names, requiring anybody roaming the Internet at all to do so constitutes a freedom of expression “disaster”. Faster Forward, a Washington Post blog, reports that, while purportedly unrelated, Zuckerberg submitted her letter of resignation a week and a day later. In her letter, Zuckerberg said she plans to leave and start her own social media company.

Eighth Circuit affirms that student’s IM with threats to third party not protected speech

Education Week reports that the Eighth Circuit, in D.J.M. v. Hannibal Public School District, affirmed a lower court’s ruling that a student’s instant message containing a threat to third party students, sent outside of school, is not protected speech. The Appeals Court found that because the student directed his IMs at a student who could reasonably be seen to forward the threats to the actual victims, it was a true threat. The Eighth Circuit also analyzed the situation under the Tinker “substantial disruption” test, finding that the IM comments, given that they were easy to copy and thus foreseeably likely to be forwarded on to school administrators, constituted such a substantial disruption of the school.

Senator Grassley objects to rumored removal of NIH conflict of interest disclosure requirements.

Senator Chuck Grassley wrote a letter to Office of Management and Budget this week, urging them not to strip a proposed transparency rule of one of its central features – a requirement that universities post the financial conflicts of publicly funded medical researchers on  a public website. Senator Grassley’s letter was prompted by a Nature article reporting that the requirement had been dropped. Senator Grassley also demanded documents related to meetings on the rule attended by Cass Sunstein, the head of OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Pharmalot reports that Sunstein is rumored to have disliked the website requirement. Grassley has asked for a response from OMB by August 25.

Posted On Aug - 10 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

District Court Says CAN-SPAM Act Does Not Violate First Amendment
By Samantha Kuhn – Edited by Chinh Vo

U.S. v. Smallwood, 09-CR-00249 (N.D. Tex. July 15, 2011)
Slip Opinion hosted by Scribd.co

The District Court for the Northern District of Texas rejected a First Amendment challenge to the CAN-SPAM criminal statute, which prohibits the computer transmission of “multiple commercial electronic mail messages, with the intent to deceive or mislead recipients . . . . as to the origin of such messages.”

The court first rejected defendant Alicia Smallwood’s motions challenging her indictment for, among other things, electronic mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1037(a)(2) and (b)(2)(c) (“CAN-SPAM Act”). The court determined that Smallwood was engaging in “clearly proscribed conduct” and was therefore not entitled to challenge the statute for vagueness. As a result of this finding, the main issue in the case became whether the statute was overly broad in its regulation of protected speech and thus a violation of the First Amendment. The arguments presented by Smallwood for over-breadth centered around the statute’s limitations on commercial speech, and the court rejected them.

Eric Goldman provides commentary on the outcome and implications of the opinion. For a background on the CAN-SPAM Act’s requirements, see Cybertelecom.

(more…)

Posted On Aug - 9 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Companies provide popular online streaming services but face copyright challenges under the DMCA

By Marina Shvarts – Edited by Chinh Vo

The rising popularity of online music and video streaming is raising questions concerning what exactly is considered copyright infringement under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Slight variations in business models can lead to distinguishable precedent and unclear case law. As a result, some companies are attempting to negotiate licensing agreements, while others believe that their models are legal and do not require licenses. Below is a summary of some of the major service providers and the legal challenges they face.  (more…)

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

By Andrew Crocker

Activist Arrested for Allegedly Hacking JSTOR

On July 19, police arrested Aaron Swartz, a 24-year-old programmer and Internet activist, in Cambridge, Massachusetts for allegedly committing wire and computer fraud when he downloaded approximately 4.8 million scholarly articles and other files from the JSTOR database, reports the New York Times.  As alleged in the indictment, beginning in September 2010, Swartz used MIT’s network to run an automated script to download the material from JSTOR, and eventually physically jacked into a network closet on the MIT campus after MIT blocked his remote access.  Swartz is known for his work on Really Simple Syndication (“RSS”) and the social news website reddit. He also founded the organization Demand Progress, which advocates for progressive Internet and government transparency policies.  Wired reports that although the indictment alleges Swartz intended to distribute JSTOR’s copyrighted material, he may have been conducting research, having previously worked on a study that analyzed the funding sources for a several hundred thousand law review articles.  According to Ars Technica, Swartz’s arrest has provoked protest by at least one fellow proponent of open access to scholarly works, who responded by posting nearly 19,000 scientific articles on Pirate Bay.

Ninth Circuit Reverses Conviction for Online Threat Against Obama

In a split opinion, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the conviction of a California man who posted an online comment in October 2008 that appeared to call for then-Senator Barack Obama’s assassination, reports Wired.  Walter Bagdasarian was convicted under a federal law that makes it a felony to threaten to kill a major presidential candidate, but Judge Reinhardt, writing for the majority, found that Bagdasarian’s post did not rise to the level of a “true threat,” because there was insufficient evidence that “a reasonable person who read the postings within or without the relevant context would have understood either to mean that Bagdasarian threatened to injure or kill the Presidential candidate.”  In addition to failing this objective test for a true threat, the postings would also not support a subjective test for Bagdasarian’s intent to threaten Obama, and according to the court, either failure would be sufficient grounds for overturning the conviction.  Furthermore, although the post could be read as “an imperative intended to encourage others to take violent action,” the relevant statute does not criminalize exhortations to others, so Bagdasarian could not be convicted on this basis.  However, Eugene Volokh suggests that given the uncertainty in constitutional precedent on true threats and protected speech, this case is likely not settled and will either be reheard by the Ninth Circuit en banc or by the Supreme Court.

Controversial Data Retention Bill Clears House Committee

H.R. 1981, a bill that would require Internet providers to retain users’ IP addresses and other personal information for one year, has cleared the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 19-10.  The bill, which CNET reports has received support from the Justice Department, is intended to make it easier for law enforcement officials to investigate crimes committed over the Internet.  According to the National Journal, critics of the bill have pointed to what they see as its politically opportunistic name, the Protecting Children From Internet Pornographers Act of 2011, as an attempt to hide its broad scope and lack of privacy protections.   In addition to lawmakers from both parties, civil liberties organizations, such as the Center for Democracy & Technology, have criticized the bill, arguing that its data retention provisions are invasive, confusing in scope, and burdensome to small Internet providers.

Posted On Aug - 2 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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Emulsification: Uber

Written by: Michelle Sohn Edited by: Olga Slobodyanyuk Emulsion: A mixture of ...

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