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On The Web

While technology has always outpaced the laws intended to regulate it, this tension has been especially pronounced during the shift from the analog to digital era. The Disco Project’s Ali Sternburg has a nice round-up of 15 flash-points that remind us how today’s Aereo is yesterday’s Betamax or MP3. Her list has some famous names (ie YouTube) but also some obscure ones — like iCraveTV and Veoh — that got wiped away in legal whirlpools.

In Brief

In August, Apple persuaded President Obama to veto a trade agency’s order that barred it from importing certain iPhones that had been found to infringe Samsung’s patents. The Korean company then called for the same favor, asking the White House to stop an import ban set for October 8 that targets its own products, but has come up short. The ban will now go into effect, but is unlikely to be a big issue for consumers as Apple’s complaint is from mid-2011, and does not affect newer Samsung products; the government shutdown may also affect the ban’s progress (check out the agency’s website right now). In the bigger picture, the import ban situation is primarily a reflection of an outdated agency with mission creep that is just one part of America’s dysfunctional patent system.

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On The Web

Lodsys, the notorious patent troll that feeds by bleeding small app developers, has folded its cards rather than go to court with a company that is challenging its claim to a monopoly on internet purchasing. Ars Technica has a colorful account of the “tremulous troll” and Eugene Kaspersky, the man who faced it down because the troll reminded him of extortionists from his native Russia. Alas, Lodsys will live another day, though it must still fight off Martha Stewart, who is suing to crush the troll in Wisconsin.

In Brief

A California judge has refused to throw out a class action case that claims Google’s scanning of Gmail accounts is a form of wire-tapping and an illegal invasion of privacy. The lawsuit is still at a preliminary stage but it’s significant that the judge refused to accept Google’s claim that the scanning was allowed because it formed part of its business operations. The ruling also addressed the larger question of whether users lose privacy rights in their email when they rely on services like Google or Yahoo. The Verge has a rundown, including the implication of the third party doctrine, here.

In Brief

Adam Liptak of the New York Times provides a lively account of how half the links in Supreme Court decisions — links that provide precedent and justify the law — lead to broken or missing webpages. The so-called “link rot,” described in a Harvard study, is a problem for the legal profession, and shows how courts’ shift away from fusty paper practices isn’t all positive. More broadly, the situation shows how future discussions of infrastructure renewal should encompass plans to repair the country’s digital infrastructure as well.

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