October 28, 2005
Optima Loses Patent Claim Suit Against Roxio Over CD Writing Software Technology
Optima sued Roxio in December, 2003, alleging infringement in patents owned by Optima. The patents cover software for recording on CDs so they can be read by any computer without special software. Optima developed the software in 1995. Roxio, it was claimed, violated those patents by selling software that incorporated the technology. Optima also claimed that the patent covered some of the industry standards for CD burning software. While Roxio was the immediate target, the suit was seen as an attempt to validate the claims against the CD burning software industry.
Today, federal Judge James Selna ruled today against Optima, saying "no reasonable fact finder could find infringement." Sonic Solutions, which bought Roxio's software division was thrilled when the Judge granted summary judgment in the company's favor. Optima's CEO Robert Adams was less than thrilled stating "If Judge Selna did not feel up to the legal and technical challenges of our case, he should have had it assigned to another Judge instead of kicking it upstairs for the Court of Appeals to deal with. This further clogs our courts and appeals systems." Ouch.
The opinion is not on the Central District of California's web site at this writing. Read the story from Out-Law.com here.
developed software for recording on CDs so they can be read by any computer, similar to a floppy disk, without special software.
Sex.com domain hijacker arrested in Mexico and Returned to the United States
A very complicated story of fraud, pornography, technology, and law suits took another turn when Stephen M. Cohen was taken into custody by Mexican authorities and returned to the U.S. Marshals Service on Thursday. Cohen tricked Network Solutions into turning over the domain sex.com which had been registered to Gary Kremen in 1994. Cohen then used the site to peddle pornography. Kremen successfully sued Cohen in federal district court and got a judgment ordering the return of the site and an restitution award of $65 million.
Cohen fled and set up another Internet pornography site based in Tijuana, Mexico. He was arrested on an outstanding arrest warrant in the United States when he tried to renew his work permit to continue operating his site.
Read more about this strange case here.
The Ninth Circuit Appeals case is at 337 F.3d 1024 (2003), 2003 U.S. App. LEXIS 14830. The District Court Opinion is at 99 F.Supp.2d 1168 (N.D. Cal. 2000), 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8476. The Supreme Court denied cert on October 3, 2005.
October 27, 2005
Add Florida to the List of States Considering Violent Video Game Legislation
Reuters is reporting that Florida State Senator Alex Diaz de la Portilla (R-Miami) introduced a bill on Tuesday restricting the sale of violent video games to minors. The text of the bill is said to be a "near clone" of the California legislation recently signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Entertainment Software Association has sued to enjoin that law, and will likely sue if this bill becomes law.
Courts in Washington State, St. Louis County, Missouri, and Indianapolis have blocked similar legislation on free speech grounds.
Read the story here.
Your Cell Phone May Be Tracking You For the Government
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is reporting on a series of cases concerning the government's attempts to gain access to a cell phone customer's cell site data. As explained by Magistrate Stephen William Smith in an opinion from the Southern District of Texas, cell phones can leave a data trail as they pass through the various convergence of cell locations, all of which is available to the wireless provider. This trail means that cell phones can be used as a tracking device whether or not the target is using his or her phone at the time of travel. The phone merely needs to be on for this to occur.
The issue in the case is not whether the government is entitled to receive the information, but whether it needs to provide probable cause to do so. In two government attempts using a lower standard for cell location information, magistrate judges denied the requests. Both courts noted the lack of appellate case law that would have provided guidance. In both cases, the judges took the position that the government's arguments combining bits and pieces from various statutes was somewhat tortured. At the same time, both judges noted that the information the government sought was obtainable with a showing of probable cause.
Judge Smith's opinion in the case of In R Application for Pen Register and Trap/Trace Device with Cell Site Location Authority (October 14, 2005) is here.
Magistrate Judge James Orenstein's opinion in In the Matter of Application of the United States for an Order Authorizing the Use of a Pen Register and Trap and Trace Device and Authorizing Release of Subscriber Information, 384 F. Supp. 2d 562 (E.D.N.Y. 2005) is here.
October 26, 2005
Microsoft in the (Legal) News
As reported earlier, Microsoft had attempted to insert language into contracts with mp3 vendors that would restrict them to supporting Windows Media Player in their bundle. At the status hearing held today on the progress of the antitrust settlement, Judge Colleen Kotar-Kotelly said the issue was "one of concern." Microsoft did not actually issue these contracts and removed the language from the drafts. Microsoft attorney Charles Rule said the language came from a low level business person who was not fully aware of Microsoft's mandate.
The Judge also noted with disapproval that Microsoft is behind schedule in providing complete and accurate technical documentation to developers who license the company's communication protocol. Kotar-Kotelly told attorneys that she wanted the project to be a top priority even if Microsoft had to hire more people to complete the work faster. Prosecutors are to submit a report on November 18th and appear at a status meeting on November 30th to discuss the findings.
Copyright and Book Scanning
Various news outlets are mentioning that Microsoft will join with Yahoo and others in the Open Content Alliances to scan books and make their contents available for searches. Unlike Google, which was hit with twin suits alleging copyright violations, Microsoft plans to scan only those works in the public domain, or those works where a copyright holder gives express permission to scan. More on this as it develops.
October 25, 2005
EPIC FOIA Documents Show Possible FBI Misconduct in Surveillance Cases
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) is reporting 13 possible misconduct cases by the FBI in surveillance cases under the Patriot Act. The site features links to documents relating to FBI investigations that were sent to EPIC under an FOIA request. Jurist has some commentary on the EPIC documents given that Congress is considering renewing portions of the Patriot Act.
Coming Soon: The Electronic Passport
The State Department issued final rules today mandating the introduction and use of electronic passports. The rule defines "electronic passport"
From the rule publication statements:
Passports must be globally interoperable--that is, they must
function the same way at every nation's border when they are presented.
To that end, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has
developed international specifications for electronic passports that
will ensure their security and global interoperability. These
specifications prescribe use of contactless smartcard chips and the
format for data carried on the chips. They also specify the use of a
form of Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) that will permit digital
signatures to protect the data from tampering. The United States (U.S.)
will follow these international specifications to ensure its electronic
passport is globally interoperable.
The personal information that will be contained in the chip is the
information on the data page of the passport--the name, nationality,
sex, date of birth, place of birth, and digitized photograph of the
passport holder. The chip will also contain information about the
passport itself--the passport number, issue date, expiration date, and
type of passport. Finally, the chip will contain coding to prevent any
digital data from being altered or removed as well as the chip's unique
ID number. This coding will be in the form of a high strength digital
signature. The contents of the data page of the traditional passport
have been established by international usage and by ICAO. The chip will
not contain home addresses, social security numbers, or other
information that might facilitate identity theft.
Note that the Department received comments from concerned citizens about the rule when it was proposed February 18, 2005 (70 FR 8305). According to the final rule statement:
We received a total of 2,335 comments on the introduction of the
electronic passport. All comments have been read, sorted, and tabulated
according to primary concerns. Comments opposing the proposed rule
primarily focus on security and/or privacy, the adequacy of Radio
Frequency Identification (RFID), technology, and religious concerns.
Specifically, concerns focused as follows: 2019 comments listed
security and/or privacy; 171 listed general objections to use of the
data chip and/or the use of RFID; 85 listed general objections to use
of the electronic passport; 52 listed general technology concerns; and
8 listed religious concerns. Overall, approximately 1% of the comments
were positive, 98.5% were negative, and .5% were neither negative nor
The comments are available for review at http://www.travel.state.gov/
, under the passport section....
Aside from the explanation of the chips to be used and what information they will contain, the rest of the notice addresses the 98.5% of negatigve comments.
A story on the subject from CNET News is here.
October 24, 2005
Analysis of Google Print Program from CNET
CNET News has posted an interesting article that summarizes the issues and history regarding the Google Print Program and the Print Library Project. The article goes in depth on the lawsuits and the surrounding intellectual property interests, and quotes players as well as providing analysis from IP lawyers.
Read the article here.
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald Now Has a Web Site
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has established a web site within the larger Derpartment of Justice web site. Fitzgerald is investigating leaks regarding the the revalation that Valerie Plame is a CIA agent. The site doesn't have much on it yet. There are just several documents relating to the formalities of the investigation. Given, however, that many news reports expect indictments to be handed down later on this week, the site should be a vehicle for the Prosecutor to post documents and news releases regarding a criminal prosecution phase in the process. Commentators have suggested that the establishment of a site at this stage suggests that the investigation will not be winding down soon.