Internet of Things & Privacy Concerns of the 21st Century

Posted by Jonathon Sanchez

 

Internet           In an article published in the Harvard Law Review in 1890, attorneys Louis Brandeis and Samuel D. Warren astutely foresaw the rising need for privacy. The need for privacy arose from how technological change shapes society – in the 1890s the rise of photographs were particularly concerning to the authors – and, with the current proliferation of social networks such as twitter and Facebook, the author’s prediction that technology enables “what is whispered in the closet shall be proclaimed from the house-tops” rings truer with each new innovation. Currently, the rise of the “Internet of Things” only exacerbates these concerns; the law’s adaptation to protect technological innovation is about the same place it was when the article was published. Consumers do not have the awareness to the consequences of the continual erosion of privacy, but hopefully that is beginning to change. Continue reading

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Software Licensing, DRM, and Consumer Rights

Posted by:  Jonathon Sanchez

 

DVD            When you bought a copy of Microsoft’s Windows operating system, you probably thought you did just that. However, Microsoft does not believe it sells you a copy of its software; instead, it emphatically believes that it is merely selling you a license to use a copy of its software as a look into its End User Licensing Agreement indicates. To the average consumer, this may be legal semantics they wish not think about when they have to click on “agree to terms” on a plethora of software and electronic purchases. Unbeknownst to the average consumer, this is a radical shift in the legal theory — upon which their purchases are predicated — and has impact on the consumers’ legal rights. Continue reading

Exposing in Order to Protect

Posted by:  Daniela Madrid

 

500px-US-CopyrightOffice-Seal.svgCopyright protects original works expressed in a tangible medium. Under US Copyright law, the protection applies automatically once the work is fixed onto a tangible form of expression. Thus, the work does not need to be registered with the Copyright Office in order for it to receive copyright protection. However, registering is encouraged in the event litigation was to arise with regard to whom the actual author of the work is. By having the work registered, an author can prove ownership. Also, in order to file suit for copyright infringement, the work at that point would have to be registered with the Copyright Office.

In order to register your work with the Copyright Office, Section 407 of the Copyright Act requires that all works published in the US must adhere to a mandatory deposit requirement. The mandatory deposit requirement protects the Copyright Office’s entitlement to receive copies of every copyrightable work published in the US. Section 407 states that the deposits are to be made “available to the Library of Congress for its collections or for exchange or transfer to any other library.”

But what happens when an author is attempting to register a website or computer program that is crucial to keep secret? In order for that author to register his claim to the copyright, he would have to make known the very source he is intending to protect. Continue reading

The Future of Cybersquatting

Posted by: Zach Smith

 

234px-DomainNameSystemCybersquatting, or domain squatting, according to the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act is the act of a bad faith intent to profit from the goodwill of another’s trademark, registers, traffics in, or uses a domain name that is identical to, or confusingly similar to distinctive mark. (Anitcybersquatting Act)  The idea is that certain domain names are indispensable to certain companies and if one were able to gain the rights to the domain name first, the company would have no choice but to purchase the domain name. Cybersquatting has become an interesting problem given the rising number of domain names on the Internet and the rise in demand.  However, according to Google executive Vinton Cerf, “we are at the cusp in the IP address space for internet.” (Vinton Cerf quote)  The question then becomes what happens to cybersquatting and the Internet when all the domain names are taken. Continue reading

Unique Legal Problem Created By MMORPGS

Posted by: Zach Smith

 

320px-Ms_sidewinderLicensing agreements appear in day-to-day life whether we know it or not.  The proliferation of technology has individuals hitting accept on software license agreements before they even begin to think what it might mean for how they are able to use the software.  In an attempt to lock in both the price and future value of their software and media, companies typically look to litigation for a way to keep software out of the hands of those not authorized to use it.  However, sometimes litigation is not the easiest route.

Video games are no different than other software or popular media, and are becoming increasingly important in cyber law as they can now be purchased and directly downloaded.  The direct downloading creates the same problems as any other software purchase because a “click” agreement to the license is still the standard operation.  However, video games present a unique problem because of the possibilities within game-play.  The best example is how video games like World of Warcraft and Diablo III have such a large player base, players have started to give actual dollar value to in-game items.  The issue is that there is money being derived from their software yet they are not capitalizing on it, which begs the question of what happens next? Continue reading

Ministry Of Sound Sues Spotify Over Playlists

Posted by:  Ross Arkin

spotifyIt’s not a news story just because a music label is suing a digital music service. If that was all that was involved here it would be better labeled as a broken record. The unique aspect of this claim turns on the way that the digital music service allows organization of the music it offers to its customers.

First a bit of background: Spotify is a digital music service that allows its users to stream music from their servers. According to Spotify, it has 24 million active users ). Users have the option of listening for free with ads for a finite amount of time per month, or for a subscription fee, can listen an unlimited amount with no ads. Spotify is a totally legal service. Spotify keeps records of which artists are being listened to and how often. This allows Spotify to pay the artists/record labels it licenses from. As per these licenses, all the music on the Spotify network is DRM protected. (Wikipedia).

Ministry of Sound London Ministry of Sound) is a record label that specializes in dance music compilations. Music that Ministry of Sound has produced which appears on the Spotify network is licensed to Spotify for use on its streaming service. Although the Ministry of Sound music tracks (like all other music on Spotify) are all individually DRM protected, users still have the freedom to organize the music they find for their convenience, so long as it stays on the Spotify network. Some of the Spotify users have chosen to create playlists out of their favorite tracks, a feature that Spotify openly offers as part of its service. This is where the legal question comes in. Continue reading

Capturing Tax Dollars by Scrapping Databases

Posted by: Tammy Thibodeau

453px-RISD_Tax_CollectorsIn 1789, Benjamin Franklin once said, “[N]othing can be certain, except death and taxes.”Some homeowners challenged the notion by flagrantly ignoring rental and lodging tax liabilities. But now some local municipalities are capturing the unpaid rental and lodging tax from private rental homeowners thanks to web-enabled programs for finding homeowners who do not report the property as a vacation rental home. Do the municipalities or software companies that help them have the right to scourer the Internet for non-compliant rental property? Does scraping of vacation rental websites violate a fundamental privacy right for the homeowner? Does the information provided by the websites qualify as fact, or does it qualify for copyright protection? Basically the information scraped by the software company qualifies as factual, and does not violate a fundamental privacy right of the homeowners.

Eye Street Solutions, created a software program, VR Compliance (Vacation Rental Compliance), solely to increase municipalities tax revenue from non-compliant vacation rental property owners. It scrapes databases such as VRBO.com (Vacation Rental By Owners), to compare complaint from non-complaint, non-tax paid vacation rental property. The VR Compliance website states, it “takes property tax listings and compliance information as inputs and uses proprietary algorithms and data sources to determine which properties are suspected of being out of compliance with applicable licensing and lodging tax obligations.” Additionally, VR Compliance will continually monitor existing rental properties and provide updates on new vacation rental listings appearing online to the municipalities. The VR Compliance revenue model directly correlates to the success of identifying non-compliant properties. Local municipalities, such as the city of Aspen, have hired VR Compliance to scan the databases of vacation rental home properties from the Internet for missing tax revenue from private homeowners who fail to pay the localities taxes on room rentals. (Curtis Wackerle, Compliance firm hired by city to uncover vacation rental scoff laws, Aspen Daily News, April 20, 2013, http://www.aspendailynews.com/section/home/157594, (last visisted Oct. 29, 2013)). Continue reading

isoHunt: A Lesson in Futility?

Posted By:  Ashlee Hoffman

The Pirate BayRecently, isoHunt.com (“isoHunt”), a website that has been around for over 10 years with millions of users, was forced offline. For those that don’t know what isoHunt is, here’s a quick explanation: isoHunt facilitated a peer-to-peer service for users to exchange files quickly and easily between individuals using the internet. It had over 1.7 million torrents in its database and 20 million peers from indexed torrents.  Launched in January 2003, the site quickly became a favorite among users.

But it wasn’t a favorite with everyone. The MPAA brought suit against isoHunt in February 2006. The MPAA made three allegations against isoHunt and its founder, Gary Fung: that the majority of content on isoHunt was infringing content, that the search engine was specialized to assist users in finding infringing works, and that Mr. Fung had made comments suggesting the purpose of the site was to allow users to download infringing content. Mr. Fung argued that he was protected by the DMCA’s safe harbor policy, which limits liability for what passes through internet services’ networks.

However, on December 21, 2009, a California District Court found isoHunt liable for copyright infringement on the theory of inducement and granted the MPAA’s motion for summary judgment. Continue reading

The Risk of Extending “without authorization” Under the CFAA To Include a Technological Barrier

Posted by: Tammy Thibodeau

Tammy Thibodeau
–> 17bits-instagram-superJumboA recent decision has extended the Consumer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA)’s definition of “without authorization” to include a website user, who knowingly accessed the website after revocation of permission or eluded a “technology barrier.” Under the civil provisions of CFAA, Craigslist sued 3Taps, an aggregator of Craigslist ads who republishes the data in an API. (Craigslist, Inc. v. 3Taps, Inc.,–F. Supp. 2d–, No. CV 12-03816 CR, 2013 WL 1819999, (N.D. Cal. April 30, 2013)). On 3Taps first motion to dismiss the CFAA claims, which the court denied in April, the court posed the threshold question that neither party had addressed. It asked “whether the CFAA applies where the owner of an otherwise publicly available website takes steps to restrict access by specific entities, such as the owner’s competitors.”(Id., n.8). Instead, the court imposed an expansive reading of the CFAA statute that covered owner-imposed restrictions to otherwise public information on websites. Continue reading

Effectively Protecting Trade Secrets and Privacy in Cyberspace

Posted By: Lauren Proper

pad-lockIntellectual property protection is becoming increasingly difficult and important as the internet advances. But unlike copyrights, trademarks and patents, trade secrets are a unique form of protected intellectual property in that they are subject to state law regulations and not federal.

Trade secrets are unlike traditional intellectual property in a number of significant ways that make their applicability to cyberspace particularly problematic. The Uniform Law Commission in 1979 issued the first Uniform Trade Secrets Act. To date, 47 states and the District of Columbia have adopted some form of this Act with slight variations. In Arizona, trade secrets are defined as:

information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique or process, that both:

(a) Derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use.

(b) Is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy. A.R.S. § 44-401.

The type of information subject to trade secret protection is similar in most jurisdictions. One component of trade secrets that is problematic in cyberspace is the requirement that reasonable efforts be made to keep the information secret. Posting this information online can destroy the reasonable efforts to maintain secrecy, though not entirely. Continue reading