A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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U.S. Marshals Service Uses Airborne “Dirtboxes” to Collect Cell Phone Data

By Katherine Kwong – Edited by Mengyi Wang

The U.S. government has been using “dirtboxes” to collect cell phone data. The program, designed for criminal suspect surveillance, is accused of also collecting cell phone data on numerous Americans not suspected of any crime. While many commentators express concern about the program’s legality, others argue that the program is an effective method of catching criminals.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News In Brief

By Henry Thomas

Ads For Content Scheme Held To Be Abstract Idea, Not Patentable Process

Federal Circuit Limits Application of Collateral Estoppel in Patent Litigation

Electronics Company Avoids Patent Enforcement By Directing Sales Outside U.S.

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Silk Road 2.0 Takedown Indicates Law Enforcement May Have Developed a Method to Trace Hidden Tor Websites

By Steven Wilfong — Edited by Travis West

The complaint filed against Blake Benthall, the alleged operator of Silk Road 2.0, indicates that the FBI identified a server that was used to host the popular drug market website, despite the fact that the website’s location was hidden by the Tor anonymity software.  Law enforcement may have developed a method of compromising Tor anonymity, a possibility that would prove useful in future operations, but that also raises concerns for legitimate users.

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Federal Circuit Flash Digest: News in Brief

By Ken Winterbottom

Motion to Dismiss in Hulu Patent Infringement Suit Affirmed

“Virtual Classroom” Patent Infringement Case Remanded for Further Determination

Attorney Publicly Reprimanded for Circulating Email from Judge

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Spain Passes a “Google Tax,” Analysts Predict it Will be Short-Lived

By Michael Shammas — Edited by Yixuan Long

Spain recently amended its Intellectual Property Law and Code of Civil Procedure to levy fees on aggregators that collect snippets of other webpages. It is at least the third example of a European government fining search aggregators to support traditional print publishing industries, a practice often labeled a “Google tax” because of the disproportionate impact such laws have on the search giant. Some analysts are already predicting that Spain’s new law will fail.

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By Yixuan Long – Edited by Travis West

Apple announced that it could no longer access information stored on devices with the iOS 8 system. This means that if law enforcement came to Apple with a seized device and a valid warrant, Apple would be technically incapable of accessing the data. According to a statement in Apple’s privacy policy:

“On devices running iOS 8, your personal data such as photos, messages (including attachments), email, contacts, call history, iTunes content, notes, and reminders is placed under the protection of your passcode. Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data. So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”

iOS 8 introduced default encryption and data protection. “By setting up a device passcode, the user automatically enables Data Protection. . . . The passcode is entangled with the device’s UID, so brute-force attempts must be performed on the device under attack. A large iteration count is used to make each attempt slower. The iteration count is calibrated so that one attempt takes approximately 80 milliseconds. This means it would take more than 5½ years to try all combinations of a six-character alphanumeric passcode with lowercase letters and numbers.” iOS Security Guide September 2014, at 11.

Google announced that its next mobile operating system, Android L, will join iOS 8 in offering default encryption.

Ars Technica provides an overview of Apple’s iOS 8 privacy policy and summarizes the favorable views from privacy advocates. According to the report, Nicole Ozer, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California, called the privacy upgrade “long overdue.” Catherine Crump, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said that it was “heartening to see a major American company conclude that it’s a business advantage to protect its users’ privacy and security.” The Cato Institute also applauds Apple’s new policy, explaining that many concerns over closing the backdoor to law enforcement are unwarranted. For example, encryption has stymied law enforcement investigations less often than people might think.

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Posted On Oct - 16 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Paulius Jurcys

CJEU Grants “Causal Event” Jurisdiction for Online Copyright Infringement

Cruz Villalón, Advocate General (“AG”) of the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”), delivered his Opinion in Pez Hejduk v. EnergieAgentur.NRW GmbH, which dealt with the interpretation of Art. 5(3) of the Brussels I Regulation and the question of jurisdiction over copyright infringements. In that case, Hejduk, an Austrian photographer, sued a German corporation for unauthorized publication of her photographs online. The German defendant contested jurisdiction, arguing that the case should have been brought before a German court. It pointed out that its place of establishment was in Germany and that its website used “.de” domain. Villalón discussed recent cases such as eDate (victim’s “centre of interests” approach) and Pinckney (localization of damage), and proposed to confer jurisdiction to the courts of the state in which the “causal event” occurred. Making content available online may cause damage in those states in which copyright is protected, but given the general/special jurisdiction dichotomy under the Brussels I Regulation (Arts. 2 and 5(3)), it remains for the Court to clarify whether ‘causal event’ jurisdiction is not too narrow for online copyright infringement cases under Art. 5(3).

Creators of the Blue-LED Technology Receive Nobel Prize

On October 7th, 2014, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced its decision to award the Nobel Prize in Physics to three Japanese scientists for inventing energy-saving LED lights, which “triggered a fundamental transformation of lighting technology.” One of the inventors, Shuji Nakamura, had sued his former employer, Nichia Corporation, four years ago after Nichia gave him an award of $200 for his invention. The meager compensation reflected the long-held notion in Japanese culture that employees should sacrifice for their companies. Nakamura’s battle with Nichia and settlement for $8 million was an important turning point for strengthening employees’ rights as well as for motivating workers  to design innovative products.

California Enacts Open Access Legislation

California has become one of the first jurisdictions to enact Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act on September 29, 2014. Prior to enactment, state agencies and departments were only required to share the results of research conducted by state employees. The new law further requires the recipient of state funding to provide public access to any publication, invention or technology on a government-approved and freely accessible database.

Posted On Oct - 14 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST

pic01By: Chris Crawford and Joshua Vittor

This article assumes a base level of knowledge about Bitcoin, bitcoin (BTC), blockchain technology, the Silk Road seizure, and the collapse of MtGox. For a helpful summary of how this technology works, see the first portion of this articlewritten by Matthew Ly of the Journal of Law and Technology.

Bitcoin, and crypto-currency more generally, has risen in the five years since its launch from an academic exercise to what is today a multi-billion dollar system of transacting wealth. Its signature technology is the blockchain, a nearly incorruptible public ledger that replaces many functions traditionally left to trusted intermediaries, such as transaction verification. These trusted intermediaries, like banks and wire transmitters, are highly regulated under our current legal system. The threat of government enforcement or private litigation is meant to ensure that they operate fairly and legally and to provide relief for victims when the intermediaries breach those victims’ trusts.

Bitcoin enthusiasts, however, emphasize that trusted intermediaries often do not operate fairly or legally (e.g. they run off with the money), and that the legal system’s reactive nature is an insufficient deterrent against malpractice and wrongdoing. Blockchain technology, some claim, has the potential to ensure proper transactions in a way that the traditional legal system has never been capable of. With blockchains, so the argument goes, there will be no need for a legal system (including government regulations) to guarantee the success of a transaction because there will be no need for trusted intermediaries to complete a transaction. (more…)

Posted On Sep - 10 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST

Written 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 illegal hotels law, Airbnb agreed to release redacted user data to New York’s Attorney General. In early June, the Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle Services issued cease-and-desist letters to Uber and Lyft, ride-on-demand mobile app services. Weeks later, taxicabs caravanned into Washington, D.C. in protest, bringing traffic to a standstill. They demanded that the D.C. City Council also issue cease-and-desist letters. While Virginia has since lifted the ban on Uber and Lyft, other states and cities have continued to fight.

Heretofore, much of the debate has centered around two competing narratives: According to some, the Uber story (and more broadly, the local sharing economy story) is one that pits ham-handed regulation against innovation, protecting entrenched and outmoded industries. Others argue that the case against Uber is fair, and that to compete all services should play by the same rules. While politics and fears of disruption certainly play large roles in this regulatory drama, this comment points to a larger legal controversy at work—the increased emulsification of commercial and private uses. Although the focus of this comment is on Uber and D.C., the larger goal is to identify major regulatory tensions with the local sharing economy by examining actual and proposed municipal regulations and laws. (more…)

Posted On Aug - 31 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST

By Olga Slobodyanyuk

ICANN responds to terrorism victims by claiming domain names are not property

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) has asked a D.C. Circuit Court to prevent the handover of country code top-level domain names (“ccTLD”) to plaintiffs of Ben Haim et al. v Islamic Republic of Iran et al., who have been trying to collect their $109 million damages award from Iran for the 1997 suicide bombing. The plaintiffs have had limited success with seizing Iranian assets located in the U.S., including cultural artifacts held by Harvard University and Chicago’s Field Museum, reports Arstechnica. They have recently obtained writs of attachment against ICANN, ordering it to “hold” the ccTLDs of Iran, Syria and North Korea for seizure, liquidation or transfer. According to the Volokh Conspiracy, ICANN has responded in its motion to quash these writs by claiming that “a ccTLD is not ‘property’; even if you think its property, it’s not property ‘belonging to’ the defendant governments; even if you think it’s property belonging to the defendant governments, it’s not within ICANN’s control; and even if you think it’s property belonging to the defendant governments that is within ICANN’s control, it’s not ‘located in the United States’ and therefore not subject to seizure by a U.S. federal court.” The Volokh Conspiracy notes that, although a ccTLD is like a label to a series of interlocking relationships, the theory that domain names are property has been successfully used by the Department of Homeland Security to seize websites allegedly involved in copyright infringement.

(more…)

Posted On Aug - 6 - 2014 Add Comments READ FULL POST
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Silk Road 2.0 Takedo

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