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 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 In the bigger picture, the import ban situation is primarily a reflection of an outdated agency with mission creep that is just one part of America’s dysfunctional patent system.
Hold onto your hat, pardners. The legal shoot-out between upstart Aereo and the TV industry has flared up out west; the outcome will determine if streaming TV (legal in New York but not California) will be allowed in six more states. Read more »
SecondMarket made its name – and a lot of its money – as a forum for pre-IPO Facebook shares. Now, it’s betting on Bitcoin and other exotic investments to reclaim mojo; but its best opportunity may be as a service provider to a growing ranks of angel investors. Read more »
President Obama gave Apple a hand when he overturned an iPhone import ban that was to go into effect in August. Will he do the same for Samsung? Read more »
Sites that post mug shots humiliate people and damage their career prospects — and engage in a form of blackmail by demanding people pay to take them down. Google, MasterCard and others are starting to respond. Read more »
The United States paid to build the Tor network, which provides a secure way to communicate for everyone, including the military and dissidents. Why, then, is it also trying to compromise it? Read more »
A court ruling last week may have opened the door for non Gmail users to sue Google over email scanning. Now, a similar lawsuit has hit Yahoo. Read more »
A popular site that lets city residents rent out their rooms is for the first time proposing to collect a tax in New York City — the news may represent a move towards light regulation of the sharing economy. Read more »
French lawmakers have passed what some are calling an “anti-Amazon” bill that curbs the U.S. retailer from combining discounts and free shipping. Read more »
The bizarre story of the FBI’s takedown of “Dread Pirate Roberts” took a new twist last night, as the feds laid out new charges that could put the pirate in jail for many decades. Read more »
A provider of secure email communications closed abruptly in August. Now, a report suggests that it did so as an alternative to turning over its encryption tools to the FBI. Read more »
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.
The FBI has shut down notorious online marketplace, Silk Road, and arrested the man who controls it. The news appears to creating upheaval in markets for Bitcoin, the currency used for Silk Road deals. Read more »
The FBI and the US government say Google, Microsoft and other tech firms have no free speech right to declare how many data demands they receive under a controversial Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act legal process. Read more »
A patent troll, which “owns” a method for vehicle tracking, sued cities and has now moved onto popular ride-sharing services. Look for legal costs to be passed on to users. Read more »
The federal government shut down is affecting websites too — the Copyright Office site is down. Other agencies have cash to keep going for a few weeks. It’s unclear what will happen after that. Read more »
The sexting app Bang With Friends is expected to change its name soon in response to a trademark lawsuit with Zynga. Read more »
Lodsys is a shell company that “owns” in-app purchasing and wants small developers to pay it a license fee. Apple stepped in to put a stop to this but a Texas court, known for its sympathy to patent trolls, booted Apple from court. Read more »
A New York man who was fined $2400 for renting a room in his condo to two Russian tourists will get his money back, following a new ruling that will add to the debate about the sharing economy and short term rentals. Read more »
Consumers sued Apple and AT&T for ending unlimited data plans for iPads in 2010. Those affected are set to collect settlements worth $40 in cash plus data discounts. Read more »
The Federal Trade Commission will use its subpoena power to look into 25 so-called “patent assertion entities” which have made a business of amassing old patents in order to extract license fees from a wide range of companies. Read more »
Boston University claims that Microsoft, BlackBerry and many other technology companies are violating the same patent it used to sue Apple earlier this summer. Read more »
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.
Pink Floyd’s attitude to companies like Pandora and Spotify appears to have changed dramatically since this summer when the band very publicly attacked streaming music services. Read more »
Exchange traded funds made gold a more liquid commodity. Can they do the same for Bitcoin? SecondMarket says, yes, but at least one investors suggests the fund is a “turd.” Read more »
A patent troll that bleeds small developers for their revenue has so far fought off the mighty Apple and Google. But now its luck may run out as it must tangle with Martha Stewart. Read more »
What happens if a company has a standards-essential patent and doesn’t play nice with it? A federal judge explained why a $14.5 million jury award is reasonable punishment. Read more »
Do a growing number of “cord-cutters” and “cord-nevers” mean the TV business is about to be battered like other traditional industries? Media investor Terry Kawaja doesn’t think so. Here’s why. Read more »
A controversial deal that calls on Facebook to pay $15 to some users while giving millions more to lawyers and non-profits could be on ice after a children’s advocacy group and others filed an appeal. Read more »
LinkedIn is facing a spate of negative publicity over perceptions that its connection tools are intrusive; the site says it will respond with a “block” tool at some point in the future. Read more »
Did you buy a “Seasons Pass” from Apple last year for the first eight episodes of the “final” season of Breaking Bad? If so, you’re in line for a refund. Read more »
Google and the Authors Guild were back in federal court on Monday in yet another attempt to break the log-jam in an eight-year legal dispute over whether Google’s book scanning was fair use under copyright law. Read more »
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.
Your Twitter feed will soon contain clips from CSI or 60 Minutes thanks to the company’s new partnership with CBS. For Twitter, this represents a doubling down on its big bet to pull major money in from TV. Read more »
The dispute between the Author’s Guild and Google heads back to court on Monday, where the two sides will debate over whether Google needed to seek permission to scan 20 million books. Read more »
Netflix lost the big prize for drama series when House of Cards, fell short — but it still came out on top because it distributes the winner. Read more »
InternMatch, a start-up that helps students find internships, is calling on companies to sign a “Bill of Rights’ that promises fair treatment and paid or meaningful work. Some big names are signing on. Read more »
Are you finding your in-box flooded with LinkedIn requests? That may be because some people are sending out the invitations against their will, according to a lawsuit that accuses the site of hacking users’ email programs. Read more »
Popular video-sharing site Vimeo claims that a “safe harbor” rule shields it from being liable for copyrighted videos uploaded by its users. A judge isn’t so sure — here’s a summary of the latest in the back and forth legal fight over who is responsible for online copyright issues. Read more »