Why You Do NOT want to use Your Fingerprint to Lock your Phone.

Cops can force you to unlock your phone with your fingerprint, but not with your passcode, according to a judge in the US state of Virginia.

In a recent Virginia case, an Emergency Medical Services captain by the name of David Baust was charged in February with trying to strangle his girlfriend.  Apparently, there might be footage recorded on video equipment in Baust’s bedroom that shows the couple’s fight.  If there is, the video could be on his mobile phone, and prosecutors want the judge to force Baust to unlock his phone so they can get at it.

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The Difference ONE Trademarked a Word can make – in one case, one word costs $62 Million.

In defending against a trademark infringement case brought by PODS Enterprises, Inc.—known for making moving containers that are dropped off at one location, filled and then transferred to a storage center or other location—U-Haul attempted to claim that “pods” had become a generic term for moving containers.  After deliberations of more than three and a half days, the jury disagreed and awarded PODS $62,000,000! Continue reading

Copyright Protection for Illegal Graffiti?

Graffiti is normally considered illegal.  To some it is art, but traditionally it has been seen as vandalism. However, the rise of influential and famous graffiti artists such as Banksy, David Anasagasti, and Shepard Fairey, who use their art as a medium for political and social activism, has transformed many people’s perspective of graffiti and it is increasingly becoming a well-respected art form. The Copyright Office is granting copyright registrations to these artists.  However, the artists may have a hard time enforcing these rights. Continue reading

New Legislation in California Mandates Privacy and Security Compliance

California is always on the forefront of regulating privacy and security on the internet and related to personal information.  California Governor Jerry Brown approved six bills designed to enhance and expand California’s privacy laws. These new laws are scheduled to take effect in 2015 and 2016

Expansion of Protection for California Residents’ Personal Information – AB 1710

Under current law, any business that owns or licenses certain personal information about a California resident must implement reasonable security measures to protect the information and, in the event of a data or system breach, must notify affected persons.  See Cal. Civil Code §§ 1798.81.5-1798.83.  Current law also prohibits individuals and entities from posting, displaying, or printing an individual’s social security number, or requiring individuals to use or transmit their social security number, unless certain requirements are met.  See Cal. Civil Code § 1798.85.

Expansion of Constructive Invasion of Privacy Liability – AB 2306

Under current law, a person can be liable for constructive invasion of privacy if the person uses a visual or auditory enhancing device and attempts to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of the person in a personal or familial activity under circumstances in which the person had a reasonable expectation of privacy.  See Cal. Civil Code § 1708.8.

The bill expands the reach of the current law by removing the limitation requiring the use of a “visual or auditory enhancing device” and imposing liability if the person uses any device to capture a visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of a person in a personal or familial activity under circumstances in which the person had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

The law will also continue to impose liability on those who acquire the image, sound recording, or physical impression of the other person, knowing that it was unlawfully obtained.  Those found liable under the law may be subject to treble damages, punitive damages, disgorgement of profits and civil fines.

Protection of Personal Images and Videos (“Revenge Porn” Liability) – AB 2643

Assembly Bill 2643 creates a private right of action against a person who intentionally distributes by any means, without consent, material that exposes a person’s intimate body parts or the person engaging in certain sexual acts, with knowledge that the victim had a reasonable expectation that the material would remain private.

Protection of Student’s Online Personal Information – The Student Online Personal Information Protection Act – SB 1177

The Student Online Personal Information Protection Act (SOPIPA) prohibits an operator of an Internet website, online service, online application or mobile application that is used, designed and marketed primarily for K-12 school purposes from (1) knowingly engaging in targeted advertising to students or their parents or guardians on the site, service, or application, (2) engaging in targeted advertising on a different site, service, or application using any information that was acquired from the operator’s site, service or application, (3) using information created or gathered by the operator’s site, service, or application to generate a profile about a student, (4) selling a student’s information, and (5) disclosing certain information pertaining to a student.   The law also requires the operator to maintain reasonable security measures to protect the student’s information from unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification or disclosure.

Protection of Students’ Social Media Information – AB 1442

Assembly Bill 1442 regulates the use of students’ social media information.  If a school intends to implement a program to gather students’ social media information, the school must notify students and parents or guardians about the proposed program and provide an opportunity for public comment.  If the program is adopted, the school must only gather or maintain information that pertains directly to school or student safety, provide the student with access to his or her information and an opportunity to correct or delete such information, destroy information after the student turns 18 or is no longer enrolled at the school, and notify each parent or guardian that the student’s social media information is being collected.

Protection of Students’ Records in Digital Storage Services – AB 1584

Assembly Bill 1584 permits a school to use a third party for the digital storage, management, and retrieval of student records, or to provide digital educational software or both.   In order to protect those records, any such contract with a third party must contain certain provisions, including a statement that all of the records remain the property of and under the control of the school, a description of the procedures that will be used to notify affected students, parents or guardians in the event of any unauthorized disclosure, a prohibition against using any students’ information for any purposes other than those required by the contract, and a certification that students’ information will not be available to the third party upon completion of the contract.

Fair Use under Copyright Law and “Transformative Use” – New Case

A recent case has again broadly interpreted the “fair use” doctrine in copyright law.  “Fair Use” is a defense to a copyright infringement lawsuit as explained below.  In Fox News Network v. TVEyes, the Court held that the fair use doctrine insulated TVEyes from copyright infringement liability. 

TVEyes is a media-monitoring subscription service that “records the entire content of television and radio broadcasts and creates a searchable database of that content.” This service allows subscribers to search keywords or phrases to determine and review an aggregation of instances of the search term appearing in the media. Continue reading