A student-run resource for reliable reports on the latest law and technology news
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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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Creating full-text searchable database of copyrighted works is “fair use”
By Yixuan Long- Edited by Sarah O’Loughlin

In a unanimous opinion delivered by Judge Parker, the Second Circuit held that under the fair use doctrine universities and research libraries are allowed to create full‐text searchable databases of copyrighted works and provide such works in formats accessible to those with disabilities. The court also decided that the evidence was insufficient to decide whether the plaintiffs had standing to bring a claim regarding storage of digital copies for preservation purposes.

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Third Circuit holds that vulgar MySpace profile created off school grounds did not cause “substantial disruption” at the school to justify student’s ten-day suspension
By Michael Adelman – Edited by Abby Lauer

J.S. v. Blue Mountain School District, No. 08-4138 (3d Cir. June 13, 2011)
Slip Opinion

The Third Circuit, sitting en banc, reversed and remanded the Middle District of Pennsylvania’s ruling that suspension was an appropriate punishment for a student who created a fake MySpace account that made fun of her middle school principal. The court also affirmed the District Court’s ruling that the school district’s policies were not overbroad or void-for-vagueness.

The Third Circuit held that the fake MySpace profile, while vulgar and offensive, did not cause the type of “substantial disruption” which would have justified the ten-day suspension of the student. The profile was not accessible on any school computers (due to a filter), and while the school district asserted that the profile caused “general rumblings,” it could not point to any major disruption of classroom activities caused by the profile. The court applied the framework from Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, 393 U.S. 503 (1969), to analyze whether the student’s posting materially interfered with school activities, but it declined to directly address whether Tinker is limited to speech that occurs on campus.

Education Tech News provides an overview of this case, and the companion case Layshock v. Hermitage School District, No. 07-4465 (3d Cir. June 13, 2011) (involving another student who created a fake MySpace profile making fun of his principal). The Digest previously covered these cases when they were heard by Third Circuit panels and resulted in seemingly contradictory decisions. Wired provides a thorough analysis of the decision, noting that the Supreme Court “has not squarely addressed the student-speech issue as it applies to the digital world” and speculating that these “decisions might give the justices fodder to do so.” (more…)

Posted On Jun - 21 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

by Dorothy Du

Bipartisan Bill Would End Warrantless GPS Tracking

The Geolocational Privacy Surveillance Act, a new bipartisan bill dubbed the “GPS Act,” seeks to clarify when the government can use GPS tracking technology to obtain geolocational information about individuals without a warrant, according to Nextgov.  Current electronic surveillance laws are behind the times and fail to address specific legal concerns raised by modern GPS technology. Several lawsuits in the past several years have led to a hodgepodge of court rulings over the use of GPS tracking by law enforcement, Wired reports. Ars Technica explains that the new bill would bring these decisions into uniformity by generally requiring a warrant, but creating exceptions for special cases, such as during emergencies or to track organized crime.

Juror Receives Jail Time for Contacting Defendant on Facebook

Joanne Frail, a U.K. juror, has been sentenced to eight months in prison for contacting a defendant online during an ongoing drug trial, reports The Wall Street Journal Blog.  Despite the fact that defendant Jamie Sewart had been cleared of charges, contacting her was directly contrary to Frail’s oath has a juror. BBC News says that Frail had looked up Sewart on Facebook to express her sympathy and discuss the jury deliberations in clear violation of the Contempt of Court Act of 1981.  As a consequence of Frail’s actions, the trial judge decided to discharge the jury and dismiss the case, which had cost £6m. NPR explains the risks jurors create by using the Internet during a trial, including the possibility that jurors could end up considering information deemed inadmissible at trial.

Online Streaming of Copyrighted Performances One Step Closer to Felony

The Senate Judiciary Committee has just approved a bill that would increase the status of streaming copyrighted performances online to a felony, The Minnesota Independent reports. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who introduced the bill last month, says that the bill is not meant to target individuals and families streaming movies at home, but rather is meant to catch those who knowingly steal digital content and make thousands of dollars or more in profit from it. Supporters of the bill say that it would make copyright law more uniform by adding “public performances” to the list of protected rights, but some argue that “performance” is ill-defined and could lead to ordinary people being thrown in jail for posting copyrighted videos on YouTube, says Techdirt. The Wrap explains that without this bill, a “public performance” like streaming is not a “reproduction” of a copyrighted work. Such a definition has left the entertainment industry at risk of losing vast amounts of revenue to unauthorized websites that can be used to stream movies and shows.

Posted On Jun - 20 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Supreme Court Holds Bayh-Dole Act Does Not Independently Vest Ownership to Federally Funded Contractors
By Daniel Robinson – Edited by Esther Kang

Bd. of Tr. of Leland Stanford Junior Univ. v. Roche Molecular Sys., Inc., 563 U.S. ____ (June 6, 2011)
Slip Opinion
(via supremecourt.gov)

The Supreme Court affirmed the Federal Circuit, which had held that the Bayh-Dole Act did not void an inventor’s assignment of intellectual property rights to a company.

The Court held in a 7-2 decision that Stanford University had no standing to sue Roche Molecular Systems for infringing an HIV testing procedure patent because the company was a co-owner of the patent. In so holding, the Court stated that the Bayh-Dole Act, which permits federally funded contractors to retain patents to their inventions in certain situations, does not independently divest a contractor’s employee and vest title in the contractor.

SCOTUSBlog provides an overview of the case. The New York Times criticizes the decision, saying it undermines the purpose of the Bayh-Dole Act. IPWatchdog features a thorough analysis of the decision. (more…)

Posted On Jun - 16 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Supreme Court Affirms Clear and Convincing Standard for Patent Invalidity Defenses
By Samantha Kuhn – Edited by Esther Kang

Microsoft Corp. v. i4i Ltd. P’ship, No. 10–290 (U.S. June 9, 2011)
Slip Opinion
(via supremecourt.gov)

On June 9, the Supreme Court affirmed a district court’s jury instructions requiring that the evidence of patent invalidity be “clear and convincing” for the invalidity defense against infringement to be successful.

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court held that the presumption of validity in Section 282 of the Patent Act requires that a defendant must present “clear and convincing” evidence that a patent is invalid in order to succeed on an invalidity defense. The main issue in the case was whether a lesser standard should be applied to evidence that had not been previously presented to the PTO during examination. The Court rejected Microsoft’s proposal of a “preponderance of the evidence” standard in such cases.

PatentlyO provides a summary of the case and concurring opinions. IP Watchdog gives a summary of the case and opines about its implications on patent law. The Digest previously covered both the district court’s decision and the oral arguments before the Supreme Court.

(more…)

Posted On Jun - 15 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

by Marina Shvarts

Cameras Coming to Federal District Courts

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports that on July 18, 14 federal district courts around the country will launch a pilot program utilizing cameras in court. The project, however, is taking small steps, subject to several restrictions. Cameras will only be allowed in civil proceedings with the consent of both parties. There will be no live broadcasts, and the trial judge will have non-reviewable discretion over which cases will be recorded and when the cameras must be shut off. The recordings will be publicly available on uscourts.gov. Uscourts.gov has a list of participating courts.

Administration Divided over Whether Recent Cyber Threats Constitute a ‘Cyber War’

According to NPR, the Obama administration’s disagreement over how to characterize the recent string of cyber attacks could complicate setting out a response strategy. Compromised information at Google, RSA and Lockheed Martin exemplifies, according to cybersecurity experts, “the most sophisticated hacking efforts ever perpetrated against private computer networks,” reports NPR. According to the pentagon, there is reason “worry about cyberweapons being used to cause actual physical damage.” The pentagon is characterizing the recent threats as a cyberwar. Howard Schmidt, the White House coordinator for cybersecurity, disagrees, stating that “to label every cyber-intrusion, every theft of intellectual property, as cyberwar is just a total mischaracterization of what’s going on in the world today.” Before the Pentagon releases a new cyber strategy, disagreements over how much to emphasize cyberwar scenarios will have to be resolved.

Professor Receives Tenure Based in Part on Wikipedia Contributions

According to the Wikimedia Foundation Community Blog, Michel Aaiji’s substantial contributions to Wikipedia were in part responsible for his award of tenure. Aaiji explained the various peer review features on Wikipedia, noting that articles posted there could be as rigorous as those published in more traditional sources. As other professors follow the lead, the status of Wikipedia contributions will have to be reevaluated.

 

 

Posted On Jun - 13 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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