Look here for news about the topics we're covering in the seminar.


Law 897: The Law in Cyberspace

New Developments


Judge Posner's Second Life

12/12/06 -- Judge Richard Posner is in the middle of a media campaign to promote his most recent book, Not a Suicide Pact: The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency. He has not limited himself to traditional media. Last week, the Judge spent an evening talking with folks who hang out in Second Life. A transcript of the conversation with Judge Posner's avatar is now available here.


Perfect 10 v. Visa

12/059/06 -- The 9th Circuit heard oral arguments this week in Perfect 10 v. Visa and Perfect 10 v. CCBill before Circuit Judges Alex Kozinski, Stephen Reinhardt, and Milan Smith. Audio recordings of the oral arguments are here (Visa) and here (CCBill).


this week's Google tidbit

11/29/06 -- There was lots of competition this week (see here, here, here, and here for other Google news tidbits) but the winner is this Reuters story: Italian prosecutors have opened an investigation of two Google employees based in Italy, who allegedly failed to prevent high school students from posting a video showing four teenagers beating and harrassing a disabled classmate in a Turin highschool. Google removed the video when it received a complaint. Italian law has no counterpart to 47 U.S.C. � 230.

Computer Crime Update

11/26/06 -- Scott Garland (JD '95) wrote in to let us know that the Department of Justice has posted the updated Third Edition of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section Manual on Prosecuting Intellectual Property Crimes.

Project CleanFeed Canada

11/26/06 -- Candada's largest Internet Service Providers announced an agreement last week to block hundreds of child pornography websites based on a list of such sites generated by Cybertip.ca. Read Michael Geist's post to his blog, and the comments the post inspired.

Barrett v. Rosenthal

11/20/06 -- The California Supreme Court has handed down its opinion in Barrett v. Rosenthal reversing the lower court's narrow reading of section 230 ISP immunity, and concluding that section 230 prohibits "distributor" liability for Internet communications.


Universal v. MySpace


11/20/06 -- Less than two weeks after announcing that it had struck a "groundbreaking" deal with Microsoft to be paid roylaties on sales of Zune MP3 players, Universal Music Group has filed a copyright infringement suit against MySpace.com, charging that MySpace has made copyright infringement free and easy. MySpace has licensed digital fingerprinting technology from Gracenote to detect and prevent infringement, but has not yet deployed it. Universal apparently wants MySpace to agree to a deal like the one it struck with YouTube. Universal and Myspace had been negotiating on a royalty deal, but have been unable to reach agreement. By some accounts, finding a not-yet-released Jay-Z video on MySpace may have been the last straw. Read Greg Sandoval's story for c|net News.com.

ACLU v. Gonzales update


11/20/06 -- Closing arguments in the ACLU's COPA challenge begin today. Nerve's LiveBlog continues its idiosyncratic coverage.


Chicago Lawyers Committee v. Craigslist


11/15/06 --The Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a Fair Housing Act lawsuit against Craigslist, claiming that Craigslist publishes housing ads from the metropolitan Chicago-area that discriminate on the basis of race, sex, national origin, religion, color and familial status. Craigslist insisted that section 230 protected it from liability. Yesterday, federal judge Amy St. Eve agreed, and dismissed the complaint. Read Kurt Opsahl's post to EFF Deeplinks.


Steinbuch v. Cutler

11/15/06 - Several years ago, Robert Steinbuch, a lawyer on Senator Dewine's staff, enjoyed some extra curricular fun with Jessica Cutler, also on Dewine's staff. What Steinbuch didn't know was that Cutler authored a blog in which she described her ongoing sexual activities, with multiple men, including Steinbuch. Wonkette, a Washington gossip blog (see David Lat item, below), discovered Cutler's blog and brought it to the attention of a wider audience. Dewine fired Cutler for misusing her Senate computer. Steinbuch sued Cutler, alleging invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and seeking $75,000 in damages. Later, Steinbuch sought to file an amended complaint, joining Wonkette and its author Anne Marie Cox as defendants in his suit for linking to Cutler's blog and thereby embarrassing him before the world. Last month, federal judge Paul Friedman granted the motion to add Cox as a defendant. Read Evan Brown's post to his Internet Cases blog.


Remember to vote

11/6/06 --In honor of the occasion, go to youtube and search for Jennifer Granholm, Dick DeVos, Debbie Stabenow or Mike Bouchard. Watch the amateur clip of your choice. The New York Times' David Carr thinks this might be having an effect.


FTC v. Zango

11/6/06 -- The Federal Trade Commission announced that Zango (a.k.a. 180solutions.com, a.k.a. Hotbar) has agreed to settle deceptive practice charges. Zango promises it will henceforth ask nicely before installing adware on consumers' computers and that it will devise a way for consumers to remove the adware it has put and will continue to put on their computers. It also agreed to pay a $3 million fine.


Bragg v. Linden Research

10/31/06 -- BNA has launced a new eCommerce and Tech Law blog. The initial entry, devoted to the EULAs purporting to govern vitual worlds, includes a link to the amended complaint in Bragg v. Linden Research, which, in contrast to the original complaint, appears to have been drafted by a lawyer.


this week's Google tidbit

10/31/06 -- Michael Froomkin's blog, discourse.net, has a post revealing a plausible rationale for the structure of Google's YouTube.com purchase. Reasonable people might differ about whether Google is morphing into a business that means something different by "don't be evil" from what it might have meant at an earlier point in its history.

11/9/06 UPDATE -- Google has denied the rumor that the YouTube purchase included a large reserve to settle copyright claims. It has confirmed the rumor that it is negotiating licensing deals with content owners. Read the Reuters story.


IBM v Amazon.com

10/24/06 -- IBM has sued Amazon.com for infringement of five Internet business method patents. Read Brian Bergstein's story for the Washington Post.


Social Networking Update: The local angle

10/23/06 -- According to the local newspaper, every single suspected pedophile investigated by one Washtenaw County detective this year had a MySpace account.

ACLU v. Gonzales


10/23/06 -- In an unrelated story, trial began today in the ACLU's challenge of COPA. Nerve's Rufus Griscom is live-blogging the proceedings.


This week's Google tidbit

10/23/06 -- New York Times reporter Katie Hafner has written a story featuring Google's lawyers, the many lawsuits that the company attracts, and the company's current philosophy of litigation.


Department of dubious distinctions

10/13/06 -- David Lat initially achieved fame in the blogosphere as the pseudonymous author of Underneath Their Robes, a blog devoted to gossip about the judiciary. Lat, who at the time worked as a federal prosecutor in New Jersey, adopted the pseudonym "Article Three Groupie," described in the blog as a woman lawyer at a big city law firm. The blog featured polls on the "superhotties" of the federal judiciary, speculation about clerkships, and nasty remarks about Harriet Miers. Eventually, Lat confessed in an interview published in the New Yorker, quit his job with the US Attorney's Office, and started blogging for Wonkette. Shortly thereafter, Lat left for a new blog, Above the Law. Today, Above the Law released the preliminary results in Lat's Law School Dean Hotties Contest. Michigan has made Lat's list of hottest male deans not once, but twice, in the nominations of Dean Caminker and Dean Croley. The vote talley as of this writing has Caminker and Croley coming in first and second in a field of seven finalists.



e360insight v. The Spamhaus Project


10/10/06 -- You remember the Spamhaus project; we looked in on Spamhaus last week, when we were talking about spam. You may or may not have run into e360insight.com, an Illinois company that claims to send only solicited commercial email -- that is, the company insists that anyone receiving commercial email from it has, in one way or another, "opted in" to its email lists. Spamhaus didn't agree, and listed e360insight.com on its Register of Known Spam Operators. After sending Spamhaus a cease and desist letter, e360insight filed a lawsuit in an Illinois county court. Spamhaus is a British organization; it contested jurisdiction and removed the case to federal court. In federal court, e360insight moved for a default judgement. On September 13, Judge Charles Kocoros granted e360's motion for default judgment, ordered Spamhaus to pay $11,715,000 damages for tortious interference with contractual relations, and enjoined it from including e360insight on its ROSKO list or otherwise interfering with the delivery of its email. Spamhaus insisted that the court order was invalid, because the federal district court lacked jurisdiction over it, and ignored it. e360insight is now seeking a court order finding Spamhaus in contempt of the September 13 judgment, and requiring ICANN and dot-com registrar TuCows to suspend Spamhaus's domain name until the contempt is purged. Read Declan McCullagh's story for c|net News.com.

10/20/06 Update -- Spamhaus has filed a notice of appeal, and Judge Kocoros has denied e360insight's request to order the suspension of Spamhaus's domain name. Read John Leyden's story for the Register.



ICANN update

10/5/06 -- On September 29, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that it had extended ICANN's contract to manage the Internet domain name system. The revised contract gives ICANN marginally more autonomy, and contemplates spinning it off as an entirely private entity after three more years. Read Juan Perez's story for Infoworld.



10/3/06 -- On it's way out of town to campaign for reelection, Congress attached the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act to H.R. 4954, the Safe Port Act. Although the House Committee on Financial Services issued a press release insisting that the Act "...does not change the law: nothing that is illegal will be made legal, and nothing that is legal will be made illegal," the online gaming industry appears to believe that the Act will nonetheless have significant impact on its bottom line. Read Robert Barr's story for the Associated Press.

Doe v. AOL

9/27/06 --Last month, America Online made news by releasing three months worth of search queries by 650,000 of its subscribers. The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a complaint with the FTC, arguing that the release breached AOL's privacy policy and violated federal law. Now, three Californians have filed a class action lawsuit against AOL. Read Anick Jesdanun's story for the Associated Press.

Arista v. Limewire

9/27/06 --The Recording Industry Association, armed with a favorable Supreme Court decision in MGM v. Grokster, has been pressuring peer-to-peer file sharing software companies to get out of the peer-to-peer file sharing business. In May, it sued Limewire, one of the holdouts. On Monday, Limewire responded with a counterclaim, alleging violations of the antitrust laws, deceptive trade practices, and tortious interference with propsective business relations.

Copiepresse v. Google

9/18/06 -- Reuters reports that a Belgian court has enjoined Google from reproducing articles from Belgian French- and German-language newspapers in the Belgian Google News site. Chillingeffects.org has posted the court order. (A translation is here.)

looking forward to November ...

9/13/06 -- Professor Ed Felten has published an independent security analysis of Diebold Accuvote voting machines. Diebold, the leading producer of electronic voting machines, has been in the news before. In 2003, it tried to use the copyright law to prevent Swarthmore college students from revealing internal company memos that demonstrated the company's knowledge that its voting machines had serious security flaws. In 2004, the company was embarrassed by the release of a letter from the CEO of the company to Ohio Republicans that promised that he would help deliver Ohio's electoral votes to George Bush in the 2004 election. Also in 2004, the company paid $2.7 million to settle a fraud suit brought by the state of California, over false representations it had made about the security and reliability of Diebold voting machines. Felten's analysis concludes that it would take sixty seconds to modify a Dielbold voting machine to steal votes undetectably and to infect other Diebold machines during normal election activities.

National Federation for the Blind v. Target

9/11/06 -- The National Federation for the Blind filed suit against Target, arguing that Target's website is not accessible to blind individuals, and that Target therefore violates the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as California statutes protecting the disabled. Target moved to dismiss the compalint, arguing that the laws applied only to physical spaces, not virtual ones. In addition, Target insisted, the California statutes could not be read to govern the Internet without violating the dormant commerce clause. The court disagreed. Read Computerworld's story by Carol Silwa and Linda Rosencrance.

Jaynes v. Virginia

9/5/06 -- Jeremy Jaynes sent thousands of unsolicited commercial email messages from his home computer in North Carolina to AOL subscribers. The state of Virginia prosecuteded Jaynes for violating Virginia's Computer Crimes Act, on the theory that all of the spam passed through AOL's computers, which are located in Loudon, Virginia. A jury convicted him of three felony counts, and a Virginia trial judge sentenced him to nine years in prison. Jaynes appealed. On Tuesday, a Virginia appellate court upheld Jaynes's conviction and sentence. Read Candace Rondeaux's story for the Washington Post.

Wikipedia defines "sprezzatura" as "the expression of aristocratic attitude..."

9/3/06 -- Lee Siegel is a senior editor at The New Republic, the winner of the 2002 National Magazine award for reviews and criticism, the author of the recently released book Falling Upwards, and, until recently, the author of a culture blog on the New Republic's online site. Mr. Siegel apparently, has a very thin skin and only so so judgement. Stung by criticism of his posts in the blogosphere, Mr. Siegel invented Sprezzatura, a pseudonymous New Republic reader who claimed to be a New York City editor for whom Siegel had written. As Sprezzatura, Siegel posted a spirited defense of his own blog, peppered with snarky attacks of his detractors:

I'm a huge fan of Siegel, been reading him since he started writing for TNR almost ten years ago. (Full disclosure: I'm an editor at a magazine in NYC and he's written for me too.) I watch the goings-on and have to scratch my head. The people who hate him the most are all in their twenties and early thirties. .... And I ask myself: why is it the young guys who go after Siegel? Must be because he writes the way young guys should be writing: angry, independent, not afraid of offending powerful people. They on the other hand write like aging careerists: timid, ingratiating, careful not to offend people who are powerful. They hate him because they want to write like him but can't.

True pseudonymity, of course, is hard to achieve in a digital age. The New Republic discovered the ruse, suspended Siegel, and deleted his blog.

21st century Whistleblowing

9/3/06 -- When Michael De Kort was unable to persuade his superiors at Lockheed Martin to fix a security flaw in coast guard patrol boats, he took his concerns to the federal government. When nobody in the government paid attention, De Kort made a video describing the problem, and posted it on YouTube.com. Read Griff Whitte's story for the Washington Post.

The King's English v. Shurtleff

8/30/06 -- In 2005, Utah enacted HB 206, a bill designed to reduce objectionable content on the Internet by requiring the Utah website owners to rate the content on their sites, directing the Attorney General to establish a public registry of websites all over the world that contain adult content that is "harmful to minors," obliging Internet service providers to block access to websites in the registry, and imposing criminal penalties for the distribution of material that is harmful to minors. The King's English Bookshop, and a coalition of other plaintiffs including the Center for Democracy and Technology and the ACLU of Utah immediately challenged the law as unconstitutional under the dormant commerce clause and the first amendment. The State of Utah decided that amending the law would probably be easier than defending it in court, and sought a stay of the litigation to allow the legislature to modify the more objectionable provisions. On August 25, the court entered a stipulated preliminary injunction, temporarily blocking enforcement of the law and delaying further discovery until the beginning of November to allow the Utah legislature an opportunity to device an amendment that would moot the case.

Federal Legislation in the 109th Congress

There are hundreds of pending bills in the 109th Congress that seek to make Internet law. Here's an idiosyncratic sampling:

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