Supreme Court Will Review Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

Many cybersecurity experts believe the current anti-hacking law, the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), is woefully out of date and applied too broadly by prosecutors and law enforcement. The Supreme Court is now taking another look at the law with a case in which a former Georgia police officer, Nathan Van Buren, was convicted in 2017 after allegedly selling information from a police database to an acquaintance for $6,000. Stanford University law professor Jeffrey L. Fisher is the lead attorney in the case. Continue reading Supreme Court Will Review Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

Appeals Court Agrees Internet Platforms Can Censor Content

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled unanimously that privately operated Internet platforms can censor content at will — a rebuke of the argument advanced in conservative circles that the platforms are bound by the First Amendment. The case in question was the YouTube channel of Prager University, a non-profit founded by radio host Dennis Prager. YouTube tagged dozens of PragerU’s videos as “inappropriate,” and stripped their advertising, which led the channel to file a lawsuit in 2017. Continue reading Appeals Court Agrees Internet Platforms Can Censor Content

HPA Tech Retreat: An Update to Compelling Copyright Issues

At the HPA Tech Retreat in Rancho Mirage, California, Thompson Coburn partner Jim Burger presented his annual update on activities in Washington D.C. relevant to the media and entertainment business. Among the numerous copyright issues that Burger examined was the long-running case of Oracle America v. Google, which is centered on whether or not Oracle’s Java APIs are copyrightable. Google used early versions of the APIs to create its Android operating system. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: An Update to Compelling Copyright Issues

Facebook Revenue Strong, Despite Facial Recognition Suit

Facebook’s revenue rose 25 percent to $2.11 billion for the quarter, beating analysts’ expectations of $20.9 billion. Its 2019 revenue rose almost 27 percent, with Q4 profits a 7 percent lift to $7.35 billion. The company reported that, even as expenses grew, its user base grew 9 percent from a year earlier to 1.66 billion, topping FactSet’s prediction of almost 1.65 billion. Not all is rosy, however: Facebook agreed to pay $550 million to settle an Illinois class-action lawsuit over use of its facial recognition technology. Continue reading Facebook Revenue Strong, Despite Facial Recognition Suit

Justice Department to End the Paramount Consent Decrees

The Justice Department’s antitrust division plans to terminate the so-called Paramount consent decrees governing movie distribution, indicating they are no longer useful. Those rules were established in the wake of a landmark 1948 Supreme Court ruling covering the eight major movie distributors in the U.S. Their end will dramatically change movie distribution. DOJ antitrust official Makan Delrahim noted that streaming services and new business models have opened the door to “consumer-friendly innovation.” Continue reading Justice Department to End the Paramount Consent Decrees

Audius Music Streamer Faces Copyright Infringement Issues

Startup Audius, which relies on blockchain for its music streaming service, has received kudos from many in the industry that agree with the company’s assessment that “music platforms were at their best when they listened to what artists and fans wanted — not corporations or major labels.” Audius is positioning itself as a competitor to SoundCloud, once known as a hotspot for emerging musicians. But Audius has the same problem found on that service: unlicensed content that the company cannot remove. Continue reading Audius Music Streamer Faces Copyright Infringement Issues

Bipartisan Group of Attorneys General to Investigate Google

A bipartisan group of attorneys general representing 48 U.S. states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, led by Ken Paxton (R-Texas), announced an investigation of Google, initially focusing on the tech behemoth’s practices in online advertising. “But the facts will lead where the facts lead,” said Paxton, who made the announcement from the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court. “We don’t know all the answers,” he added. The states just subpoenaed Google for information on its advertising business practices. Continue reading Bipartisan Group of Attorneys General to Investigate Google

Apple’s Rules For Kids Apps Will Impact Analytics and Ads

Apple has created new rules for kids apps in the App Store that will ban external analytics software and restrict the ability to sell advertisements. Considering the market dominance of the Apple App Store, developers of kids apps are worried that, starting next month when the rules go into effect, they will struggle to stay afloat. Apple said the new rules were in response to some children seeing inappropriate ads on apps and its aim to protect them from data trackers. Some privacy advocates have applauded the move. Continue reading Apple’s Rules For Kids Apps Will Impact Analytics and Ads

Broadcasters File Federal Suit to Stop TV Streamer Locast

CBS, Disney’s ABC, Comcast’s NBCUniversal and Fox are suing non-profit streaming service Locast in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York. Locast, funded in part by AT&T, retransmits local television stations without permission, free to consumers. The Supreme Court shut down Aereo, which streamed content without permission in 2014. Locast says its status is legal under the Copyright Act of 1976, because, unlike Aereo, it is a non-profit operating “booster” and “translator stations” that strengthen a TV station’s signal. Continue reading Broadcasters File Federal Suit to Stop TV Streamer Locast

Streaming TV Service Locast Receives a Boost From AT&T

Locast is a streaming service that allows those without a pay-TV subscription to watch sports, news and primetime broadcast programming. Backed by the non-profit Sports Fan Coalition, Locast last week received a $500,000 contribution from AT&T. The service has launched in New York and Los Angeles among other large markets. But Locast has not received TV stations’ consent to carry their feeds, something required by federal copyright law, nor is it paying fees, which comprise a significant portion of broadcasters’ revenue. Continue reading Streaming TV Service Locast Receives a Boost From AT&T

Change in Antitrust Thinking Could Be Problem for Big Tech

A shift in antitrust thinking is gaining momentum in the U.S. as regulators are increasingly scrutinizing Big Tech. Scholars are examining antitrust issues in a context that focuses on the clout of leading companies. Antitrust regulation has historically focused on consumer welfare and whether or not there is economic impact. In recent decades, tech giants such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google have experienced massive growth by offering free or cheap digital services. “People might enjoy using the tech platforms but they are also asking, ‘What kind of society do we want?’” suggests Hal Singer of George Washington University’s Institute of Public Policy. Continue reading Change in Antitrust Thinking Could Be Problem for Big Tech

Apple Reinstates Kid Controls, App Developers File Lawsuit

Apple abruptly reversed a decision made a year ago to remove iPhone apps that use one of two technologies to allow parents to control their children’s use of Apple devices. The company revealed its move to allow parental controls in a short blog post on its website. The reversal comes on the heels of news that the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are scrutinizing Silicon Valley tech companies for antitrust behavior. App developers filed a lawsuit in California accusing Apple of monopolizing app distribution. Continue reading Apple Reinstates Kid Controls, App Developers File Lawsuit

Supreme Court: App Store Customers Can Now Sue Apple

In what could become a landmark decision, the Supreme Court has ruled to allow individual iPhone users to sue Apple in antitrust violation cases related to the tech giant’s App Store. In a 5-4 decision written by Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court agreed with a lower court ruling that determined App Store customers could sue Apple for allegedly driving up prices by forcing them to purchase apps exclusively from the App Store. Apple lost its argument that was based on the contention that third-party developers set the prices for apps. While Apple holds steady in its belief that it does not represent a monopoly, the ruling could have future ramifications regarding consumers who seek to sue other app sellers for antitrust violations. Continue reading Supreme Court: App Store Customers Can Now Sue Apple

Spotify Brings Beef Against Apple to European Commission

Spotify filed a complaint with European regulators accusing Apple of violating antitrust laws by crushing companies that compete with its services, including Apple Music. Apple charges a fee of up to 30 percent on anything sold in its App Store. Spotify reported to the European Commission that Apple’s policies are a “tax” that violate competition laws, and chief executive Daniel Ek complained that Apple gives itself “an unfair advantage at every turn.” It is uncertain if the complaint will lead to a formal EC investigation. Continue reading Spotify Brings Beef Against Apple to European Commission

HPA Tech Retreat: Jim Burger Presents Washington Update

In what has been an annual presentation at the HPA Tech Retreat, Thompson Coburn attorney Jim Burger delivered his update of legislation and litigation from the nation’s capital. His take on “administrative-legislative developments in copyright” was summed up by a slide of stars and the sounds of crickets, reflecting the government shutdown. Burger first briefly defined copyright as “an original expression in a fixed tangible medium,” and described the four-factor test that defines non-exclusivity. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Jim Burger Presents Washington Update

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