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


Law 897: The Law in Cyberspace

New Developments


...'tis the season...

12/3/08 -- ...for a new triennial DMCA rulemaking. Every three years, the Librarian of Congress publishes a list of temporary exemptions from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's prohibition on circumventing DRM. This fourth round got started this past October, with a request for comments on how past exemptions were working out, and what new ones should be considered. The Copyright Office has posted nineteen comments, most of them requesting new or broadened exemptions. Check out Michigan computer science Professor Alex Halderman's request for a broader exemption for computer security research, EFF's request for an iPhone hack exemption to allow the use of 3d party apps, and Duke University's request to allow circumvention of DVD drm to make film clips for faculty to show to students in the classroom.


Hepting v. AT&T

12/3/08 -- Yesterday, Judge Vaughn Walker heard argument on whether Congress successfully shut down efforts to sue telecomm providers for cooperating in secret government surveillance programs that allegedly exceeded stautory authorization. c|Net's Greg Sandoval attended the hearing, and has posted his account.


...while Rome burns...

12/3/08 -- Rob Teel draws our attention to the enactment of the "Child Safe Viewing Act," signed by President Bush on Tuesday. The Act requires the FCC to study "advanced blocking technologies" and "parental empowerment tools" (think v-chip), and the extent that it would be feasible to implement them at the device or service provider level. Read Adam Thierer's blog post for Technology Liberation Front.


United States v. Drew

11/29/08 -- A jury of her peers has convicted Lori Drew of misdemeanor violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for creating a fake MySpace account in order to run a heartless scam on her teenage daughter's classmate, Meagan. Drew posed as a 16 year old boy name Josh, who befriended Meagan online, allegedly to find out what she was saying about Drew's daughter. Things got out of hand, though, when, after weeks of online courting, "Josh" sent Meagan a message that "the world would be a better place without you." Megan committed suicide shortly after receiving the message. The jury acquitted Drew of felony charges, and deadlocked on a conspiracy charge. Read Jennifer Steinhauer's story for the New York Times. WIRED's Kim Zetter has been following the case closely.


Blogger takes down spammer

11/12/08 -- Ashley Tan calls our attention to the precipitous (if probably shortlived) decline in spam traffic after two Internet Service Providers were persuaded to disconnect a company alleged to originate a whopping 75% of the world's spam. Blogger Brian Krebs gathered the data that convinced the ISPs to cut off McColo's Internet service. Read Brian Krebs blog post for the Washington Post.


Authors Guild v. Google; McGraw Hill v. Google

10/28/08 -- Google has settled the Google Book Search litigation, agreeing to pay $125 million to resolve the litigation. Curl up with the 141 page settlement agreement.


felony avatar murder

10/24/08 -- A 43 year old piano teacher in Japan is in jail in Sapporo for the virtual murder of the avatar of her former virtual husband in the online game Maple Story. The in-game husband divorced her abruptly, which made her so angry that she signed on to Maple Story with his account information and deleted his avatar from the game. When he discovered that his avatar had been deleted, he called the Sapporo police, who traveled more than 600 miles to the piano teacher's home in Miyazaki to arrest her and bring her to a Sapporo jail. Read the AP story.


ICANN's new gTLD proposal

10/24/08 -- ICANN has published for comments a draft of the procedures it proposes to adopt for rolling out new generic Top Level Domains. The comment period starts now. Read Anick Jesdanun's story for the AP


Kentucky v. 141 Domain Names

10/23/08 -- Earlier this year, the state of Kentucky filed suit in Kentucky state court seeking the seizure of 141 domain names belonging to Internet gambling sites accessible to residents of Kentucky. The state claimed that, under the lanaguage of Kentucky Revised Statutes 528.100, the domain names were "gambling device[s]" used in violation of Kentucky's gambling laws, and therefore forfeit to the state. Circuit Judge Thomas Wingate has now entered an order upholding its jurisdiction over the defendant domain names, finding them to be "gambling devices" within the meaning of the statute, and ordering the transfer of all 141 domain names to the state except for those that implement software to block gambling by Kentucky residents. Read Beth Musgrave's story for the Lexington Herald-Leader.


Section 512 revisited

10/15/08 -- The McCain-Palin campaign is the latest to complain that the notice-and takedown provisions of section 512 of the copyright act squelch legitimate political speech. Many of the campaign's videos and ads have been removed from YouTube in response to copyright take-down notices from the owners of copyright in news footage or music included in the video. On Monday, the campaign sent a letter to YouTube complaining that the statutory regime was insufficiently protective of free speech in a fast-moving political campaign, and asking YouTube to promise to undertake a full legal review of the merits of all take-down notices directed to videos posted from accounts controlled by political campaigns before blocking any content. Read Sarah Lai Stirland's story for WIRED.


Ohio v. Ellison

10/14/08 -- An appellate court in Ohio has reversed the criminal conviction of a teenager for posting on her MySpace page a picture of one of her classmates, accompanied by an allegation that the classmate had molested a little boy.


why didn't I think of that?

10/14/08 -- In an unrelated story, President Bush has signed into law a measure designed to make online sites like MySpace less worrisome for parents. The "Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators" [that would be "KIDS"] Act of 2008 requires sex offenders to report all of their Internet and online aliases to sex offender registries, so that social networking sites will know whom to exclude.


Riley v. Dozier

10/6/08 -- John Dozier practices Internet law, and has a website at www.cybertriallawyer.com advertising his practice. Ronald Riley runs a website he calls CyberTrialLawyer-Sucks.com, dedicated to the proposition that Mr. Dozier, well, sucks. Mr. Dozier was not pleased. He sent a takedown notice to Riley's ISP, claiming that Riley's site infringed his firm's trademarks. Riley found another ISP, and then another, but Dozier sent them cease and desist letters, too. Public Citizen has now filed a lawsuit against Dozier, seeking a declaration that Riley's site is lawful. Read the complaint.


Carabelli v. Michigan Messenger

10/3/08 -- Last month, the Michigan Messenger, an online, political news daily, published a story reporting that the chairman of the Republican Party in Macomb County planned to use a list of foreclosed homes to challenge voters on election day. The story quoted a telephone interview with party chairman James Carabelli, in which he said: "We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren’t voting from those addresses." Mr. Carabelli says that he never said that. Nonethless, the Obama campaign and the DNC filed suit to prohibit the Michigan Republican party from challenging voters on the basis of home foreclosure listings. Now, Talkingpointsmemo reports that Mr. Carabelli has filed a defamation suit against Michigan Messenger over the article. TPM's efforts to find out who was paying the lawyer representing Mr. Carabelli have so far proved unsuccessful.

10/8/08 Update: Read the complaint in Carabelli's defamation suit.


Security report

9/22/08 -- Last Tuesday, someone using the handle "rubico" hacked Sarah Palin's private email account on yahoo.com by guessing her password, and posted screenshots of what he found on Wikileaks. The McCain-Palin campaign called in the FBI. According to Fox News, the FBI and the Secret Service sought, unsuccessfully, to persuade the Associated Press to turn over copies of the emails, which it had apparently downloaded from the Internet. Stymied! On Thursday, San Franciso Journalist Dan Goodin posted an item noting that the posted screenshots identified the proxy server that "rubico" had used to hide his or her identity, and identifying the operator of the server. FBI agents, Goodin suggested, might want to give him a call and ask him to look at his log files. Within hours, someone at the FBI took the hint. Read Humphrey Cheung's story for TGDaily.


today's Google tidbit

9/22/08 -- In April, the British Christian Institute sued Google for refusing to allow it to place an ad keyed to the word "abortion." Google has settled the case, and will now allow ads keyed to "abortion." Read Stephanie Clifford's story for the New York Times.


ediscovery is too expensive

9/12/08 -- Early predictions that electronic discovery would prove cheaper and faster that the old fashioned document production seem to have been overly optimistic. Trial lawyers released the results of a survey this week that concluded that discovery, and especially electronic discovery, had gotten so expensive that it puts litigation out of reach for many litigants. Read Martha Neil's story for the ABA Journal.


today's Google tidbit

9-9-08 -- The Wall Street Journal reports that the Justice Department has hired outside litigation counsel in preparation for a possible antitrust challenge to Google's dominance in the online advertising business and its proposed merger with Yahoo!


today's other Google tidbit

9-9-08 -- Google has promised European regulators that it will revise its data storage policies to respond to EU privacy concerns. Read Constant Brand's story for AP.


a little light reading

9/8/08 -- PC Magazine has posted a Cyber Crime Hall of Fame, featuring its picks for the nine most infamous criminal hacks.


Free Press v. Comcast

9/5/08 -- Last month, the FCC ruled that Comcast's selective, and secret, disruption of peer-to-peer file sharing applications "unduly squelches the dynamic benefits of an open and accessible Internet and does not constitute reasonable network management." Yesterday, Comcast filed an appeal. C|net's News.com reports that FCC Chariman Kevin Martin said he was "disappointed by Comcast's decision to appeal."


Internet censorship in Thailand

9/4/08 -- The Bankok Post reports that Thailand's Information and Communications Technology Ministry has asked Internet service providers to block 1200 websites under Thailand's Computer Crime Act, and has secured court orders shutting down 400 of them. 344 of the sites included material disrespectful of the royal family, five were deemed obscene, two carried religious content and one featured a video sex game. Read Oliver Luft's story for the Guardian.


Is the Internet getting crowded?

9/4/08 -- Comcast recently announced that it would limit bandwidth use by all of its residential customers to 250 GB per month. (Comcast insists the new policy has nothing to do with a recent FCC ruling that Comcast acted unlawfully when it secretly blocked its customers from using peer-to-peer applications.) Meanwhile, reports that Internet traffic is growing faster than capacity, leading us all to a future of communications congestion, appear to be somewhat premature. According to a bandwidth-monitoring firm named "TeleGeography," Internet traffice is indeed growing, but global Internet capacity appears to be growing even more quickly. Or maybe not. Data on Internet use are for the most part proprietary and rarely shared. Different firms inist their estimates are superior to their competitors', but, at least so far, nobody has come up with a good way to measure who's right. Read Ryan Singel's story for WIRED News.


c|net News on Palin

9/3/08 -- As it did with Senator Biden, C|net's News.com has posted an instant analysis of Governor's Palin's record thus far on technology issues. Read Stephanie Olson's story.


Reisinger v. Sheboygan

8/25/08 -- Jennifer Reisinger's website for Brat City Web Design, her Web design business, included "local links" to Sheboygan sites, including the Sheboygan police department. The Sheboygan City Attorney ordered her to remove the link and threatened to lauch a criminal investigation. Reisinger claims that he was retailiating against her for her efforts in support of a campain to recall Sheboygan Mayor, Juan Perez. Reisinger has filed a lawsuit against, the mayor, the City Attorney, the police chief and the city clerk, claiming that they violated her first amendment rights. The suit seeks $250,000 in compensatory damages. Read John Diedrich's story for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.



Due Process in the age of Google

8/25/08 -- New Zealand Judge David Harvey is no stranger to the Internet. He published a book on New Zealand Internet law titled internet.law.nz, now in its second edition, and he teaches a course in Information and Technology Law at Auckland University. Judge Harvey presided Monday over the arraignment of two unemployed guys in their early twenties who are charged with the murder of a teenager. Judge Harvey enjoined online media from posting the defendants' names or images. Newspapers, radio stations and television news programs are free to report the names and images of the accused, but not to post them on their websites. Judge Harvey was reportedly "concerned about someone Googling someone's name and being able to access it later." Read Edward Gay's story for the New Zeland Herald.

McCullagh on Biden

8/24/08 --If you're interested in Senator Joe Biden's record on the issues covered by this seminar, c|net's Declan McCullagh posted an analysis shortly after Barack Obama announced his veep choice.



Federal Legislation in the 110th Congress

There are hundreds of pending bills in the 110th Congress that seek to make Internet law. Here's an idiosyncratic sampling:

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