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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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Written by Matt Gelfand
Edited by Harry Zhou
Editorial Policy

A major criticism of the current copyright system is the overbreadth of the protections it affords, in terms of duration, works covered, and uses covered. With the Copyright Act of 1976 and subsequent international treaties and legislation, copyright has become quasi-permanent, and breadth-limiting formalities such as notice and registration requirements have been eliminated.[1] Virtually any use of the creative expressive content in a work is subject to control by a copyright-holder,[2] and attempts to invoke the “Fair Use” exception can result in protracted legal disputes. The result is near-constant technical infringement of copyright, made bearable only by virtue of limited enforcement.

These concerns about breadth highlight the fundamental balance that an intellectual property system must strike between its goals, generally related to a creator or his/her work, and the ways in which it limits use of an idea or expression by the general public or another creator. Debates about copyright law often focus on the success of the copyright system at promoting the goals to which it is directed — incentivizing creation, rewarding creators, protecting artists’ personality interests in their work, and stimulating cultural development — in the context of a modern, networked society. Among these different goals, and among a diverse set of creators, different forms of copyright protection are justified.

Take breadth of protection, for example. A commentator concerned with incentives (the goal) for the creation of high-budget commercial films by movie studios (the users) might argue for a level of protection that is sufficiently strong to provide that incentive, but not so strong as to unnecessarily increase the difficulty of creating films down the line. A commentator concerned with the development of a cultural zeitgeist through the manipulation of popular symbols might argue for weak protections against derivative uses of the work, while at the same time recognizing that protections against verbatim copying provide a useful incentive to create the symbols themselves. The focus of this sort of criticism is on finding an ideal system that does the best job for a commentator’s favored goal or user.

But maybe we should be asking a more fundamental question: should copyright continue to take a one-size-fits-all approach? Perhaps the differently-motivated participants in our modern society would be best served by different copyright systems altogether. For creative professionals and corporations making a substantial investment of time, resources, and/or risk in a creative enterprise, the existing system of economic rights (with exceptions for unprofitable and socially beneficial uses[3]) is at least somewhat appropriate. But for the tortured artist who considers his work to be a reflection of his own personality, a strong system of moral rights may be better. For a fame-obsessed YouTube phenom, a right of attribution alone would suffice; a computer programmer who wants her work to keep serving society, on the other hand, would prefer robust copyleft-style protections to prevent the proprietization of downstream derivative works. A blogger writing purely for the satisfaction of expressing herself might not need any protection at all! The existing copyright system does a bad job serving most of these groups.

This comment begins with a description of the most well-known system of alternative rights designations: the Creative Commons (“CC”) licenses. Different CC licenses will be discussed in the context of the users who are likely to choose them and the real aims of those users. Next, some drawbacks of using the CC license system to carve different rights reservations out of the existing copyright system will be addressed. Finally, this comment will propose two solutions to the homogeneity of the existing system: a radical move to a heterogeneous copyright system, and a more modest change to the copyright registration system.[4] (more…)

Posted On May - 5 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

It’s once again that time of year: The Digest will be taking a short break from our regular coverage over the coming weeks as our Staff Writers take their spring examinations.

While we take our hiatus from regular coverage, we have the pleasure of re-introducing our Comments feature. Comments are longer opinion pieces on especially significant issues. These pieces are written entirely by members of our staff, on topics they believe warrant closer examination and study. From now until the week of May 15th, we will publish a Comment every week. We have some especially interesting pieces this May and we hope you enjoy them!

We’ll be back the week of May 15th with our usual coverage.

We sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed our work this year!

The Digest Staff

 

Posted On May - 2 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Microsoft argues for a lower burden of proof for patent invalidity where prior art wasn’t before the PTO
By Abby Lauer – Edited by Matt Gelfand

Microsoft Corp. v. i4i Ltd. P’ship, No. 10-290 (U.S. 2011)
Transcript of Oral Arguments

On April 18, 2011, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Microsoft Corp. v. i4i Ltd. P’ship, a case involving a dispute over the evidentiary standard that must be met by a patent challenger in order to overcome the presumption of patent validity codified in 35 U.S.C. § 282. Microsoft’s position is that the standard should be reduced from one requiring clear and convincing evidence to one requiring a preponderance of the evidence, in the case where the evidence before the court is a prior art reference that was not considered by the PTO during patent prosecution. For further background on the case, see the Digest’s previous coverage of the proceedings at the Eastern District of Texas and the Federal Circuit.

Summaries and commentary on the oral arguments can be found at IPWatchdog and PatentlyO. (more…)

Posted On Apr - 22 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST

Sony Settles Lawsuit with PlayStation 3 Hacker
By Vivian Tao – Edited by Chinh Vo

Sony Computer Entm’t Am. v. Hotz, No. CV11-0167 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 11, 2011)
Final Judgment hosted by Electronic Frontier Foundation

On April 11, 2011, the United States District Court for the Northern District of California entered a final judgment for plaintiff Sony Computer Entertainment America (“Sony”), granting Sony a permanent injunction against defendant George Hotz. The injunction prevents Hotz, a notorious hacker, from engaging in any unauthorized access to Sony products, circumventing security measures in those products, or trafficking and posting any information, service, or product that would lead to such circumvention.

While a motion to dismiss regarding Hotz’s claim over lack of personal jurisdiction is pending, this final judgment comes on the heels of a March 31 settlement agreement between Sony and Hotz. Both parties have agreed to accept this judgment and to waive their rights to appeal.

Ars Technica provides an overview of the case. PC World criticizes the judgment, stating that the injunction’s effect will be constrained by other sites that have already listed and can continue to include information from Hotz’s hacking efforts.

(more…)

Posted On Apr - 17 - 2011 1 Comment READ FULL POST

by Alea J. Mitchell

Obama Seeks Secure Online Identities

The White House Blog announced that President Obama released the “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace” (PDF), a plan to improve online security and e-commerce. The proposal is aimed at combating online fraud and identity theft, and calls on the private sector to design a trusted identity system to better protect an increasingly wired culture. Wired reports the proposal distances itself from a national ID approach and instead urges the private sector to develop ways for consumers to create privacy-enhancing secure identity credentials that will enable safer online transactions.

Senators Kerry and McCain Propose Online Privacy Legislation

Wired reports that Senators John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) and John McCain (R-Arizona) introduced on Tuesday the Commercial Privacy Bill of Rights, online privacy legislation that would allow web users to demand websites stop tracking and selling their online behavior.  The bill aims to regulate how identifiable information is used, stored, and distributed. Ars Technica reports that consumer groups criticize the bill for shying away from overt “Do Not Track” legislation, giving special interest treatment to social media marketers, and creating a conflict of interest by allowing the Department of Commerce to influence privacy policies.

House Votes to Repeal Net Neutrality Rules

Reuters reports that the House of Representatives voted last Friday to reject the FCC’s net neutrality rules, which were adopted last year and bar Internet service providers from blocking or interfering with traffic on their networks. The Hill reports that Republicans, who oppose the rules, claim the FCC lacks authority to regulate the Internet and that net neutrality rules impose unwarranted government regulation over an open and thriving Internet. The largely partisan effort is expected to fail once the legislation reaches the Democratic-controlled Senate. As Wired reports, the vote is largely symbolic, as President Obama has promised to veto any legislation proposing to reverse the rules.

Congress Revisits COICA

Ars Technica reports that the battle over the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) is heating up again as both chambers draft amended versions of COICA, set to be rolled out in coming weeks. Last November, JOLT reported on the bill, which would grant the Attorney General power to seize domain names through in rem action and require online ad services and credit card companies to stop working with blacklisted sites, with the goal of targeting foreign piracy and counterfeiting sites not easily reached by US courts. While the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the bill, it never made it to the Senate floor, owing to efforts of Senator Ron Wyden, who has again vowed to oppose the billWired reports that Google’s Kent Walker testified at one of two recently held House hearings to oppose the Act, particularly the private right of action a COICA claim would give rightsholders. The Citizen Media Law Project laments the bill’s return.

Posted On Apr - 16 - 2011 Comments Off READ FULL POST
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U.S. Marshals Servic

By Katherine Kwong – Edited by Mengyi Wang According to a ...

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Federal Circuit Flas

By Henry Thomas Ads For Content Scheme Held To Be Abstract ...

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Silk Road 2.0 Takedo

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Federal Circuit Flas

By Ken Winterbottom Motion to Dismiss in Hulu Patent Infringement Suit ...

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Spain Passes a “Go

By Michael Shammas — Edited by Yixuan Long Amendments to the ...