Technically Legal

Technology and the law. Done right.

Episode 38: What’s the Buzz?

Google Buzz Class Action Lawsuit, Social Media and Burglary, and Searches of your P2P share folders.

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Google Buzz Class Action

Local class action complaint filed over Google Buzz

Social Media and Burglary

Your Rights Online: I Use Twitter, Please Rob Me

Search Warrants and Share Folders

Feds Can Search, Seize P2P Files Without Warrant

Comments Off Posted in: Podcast on February 22, 2010

Redbox Caves As Well

We’ve covered the Redbox suit before and are a little sad to report that they’ve agreed to Warner’s demands not to rent new releases for 28 days. Warner hopes that this will boost sales of DVDs. Presumably because if people didn’t want to see a movie in the theater, they will run out and buy the DVD, rather than just waiting another month before renting it. That makes sense? Right?

This announcement comes on the heels of Netflix caving to Warner’s demands in January.

Comments Off Posted in: Links on February 16, 2010

Episode 37: Largely Copyright

White House and Copyright, Streaming the Olympics, FBI and the Fourth Amendment

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White House and Copyrights

White House Makes Full Copyright Claim on Photos
Another Obama right-of-publicity violation; NY Times gets results!

Streaming the Olympics

Why you can’t see live streaming of Olympics — at least not legally

FBI and the Fourth Amendment

On the FBI, the Fourth Amendment and Your Cell Phone

Comments Off Posted in: Podcast on February 15, 2010

This Week in Law #47: Felix Unger Wisdom

Ben and I appeared as guest panelists yesterday, February 12, 2010, on This Week in Law, which is part of the TWiT network with fellow attorneys Ernie Svenson and Denise Howell.  We had a lot of fun doing it and hit some great topics.  Be sure to check it out.  The audio podcast should be available early next week and the (unedited) video broadcast is available on (and below).

Comments Off Posted in: Links on February 13, 2010

RIAA Update

Two quick updates:

The RIAA has rejected re remittitur in the Jammie Thomas case, meaning that there will be a third trial, this one only for damages. One wonders what this trial will look like, when the Judge has already ruled at $54,000 was the maximum that any jury could reasonably award for these damages.

Similarly, the RIAA opposed Joel Tenenbaum’s motion for remittitur, which is in no way surprising.

Comments Off Posted in: Links on February 9, 2010

Can the Police Find Your Phone?

Recently Mac developer and Somerville native Daniel Jalkut had his iPhone stolen from a locker room. Daniel used MobileMe, an Apple service, to locate his phone in order to get it back. Then, he called an MIT police officer to report the crime, and presumably the street address of the alleged thieves.

This got me thinking, it’s perfectly legal for Daniel to hand all this information over to the police. But what if he were to hand over the password to his MobileMe Account, so the police could track the phone in real time, right down to the house where the thieves were keeping it? Would the police be able to do that? What if the police, with Daniel right next to them, asked him to open up MobileMe and find the phone.

Oddly, under current Supreme Court law, I think this would be an illegal search under the Fourth Amendment.

The case is United States v. Karo. Briefly, the case involved a defendant ordering 50 gallons of ether, used to extract cocaine from clothing in which it was smuggled. The DEA caught wind of this of put a tracking device in the ether barrel. They then used the tracking device to pinpoint the exact house where the ether was being kept. Using that information, they obtained a warrant, searched the house, and bused the drug dealers.

The problem the Supreme Court had with this (in a starkly divided opinion), was that the DEA was using this electronic device to do a search that they never would have been able to do without a warrant. They could have easily followed the car from where they picked up the ether to the house, but the police would have risked detection. Instead, they used this device to essentially search the house from the outside.

You run into a similar problem with the iPhone. Daniel could print out the information from MobileMe, give it to the police with a statement about how he got it, and they could get a warrant from that, and that would probably be A-OK (assuming you could explain this all to the judge who was reviewing the motion to suppress). However, as soon as the police take over the MobileMe account, or even direct Daniel to check it, you run the risk of violating the thieves’ right to be free of unreasonable searches or seizures.

You don’t run in to this problem with LoJack or OnStar, because those cars are on the road, and you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the location of a car if it’s on the street. But here, without a search warrant the police wouldn’t be able to tell if the iPhone was in your house, and there is a strong argument that the police using the Find My Phone feature would violate the Constitution.

1 Comment Posted in: Analysis on February 9, 2010

Episode 36: Still Not About the iPad

Amazon Wrap Up, iPad Trademark Dispute, Out-Of-School Speech, New Rules for Juries

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iPad Trademark Dispute

Fujitsu’s Leaked iPad Memo
Will the iPad soon have a new name?
STMicroelectronics iPad
Apple’s Trademark Application

Students Punished, or not, for Out of School Speech

Snyder v. Blue Mountain School District
Synder Opinion
Layshock v. Hermitage School District, Opinion

New Rules for Juries

Juror Use of Electronic Communication Technology
Courts move to ban juror use of Blackberry, iPhone, Twitter and Facebook

Comments Off Posted in: Podcast on February 8, 2010

Another Reason to Secure Your Wireless Network

Somehow this story slipped past us last week. A Federal District Court in Oregon held that a man had no reasonable expectation of privacy in files that was easily viewable over his unsecured wireless network.M

The man had an unsecured network which a neighbor was using. The man was allegedly using Limewire to download child pornography, and had Limewire and iTunes set-up to automatically share the downloaded files through iTunes’ built in sharing.

The neighbor was browsing the man’s shared files and stumbled across the child porn.

So, count this as reasons:
(1) Not to have an unsecured network
(2) Not to use Limewire, which is full of malware, and
(3) To check your sharing settings on all your apps that have a default.

Comments Off Posted in: Links on February 8, 2010

Episode 35: Not about the iPad

Are file extensions trademarks, Google Street View suit reinstated, and Amazon pulls Macmillian books.

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Are file extensions trademarks?

File extensions cannot be trademarks

Street View Suit Reinstated

Google Street View: Appeals court revives Pa. couple’s lawsuit
The opinion

Amazon pulls Macmillan Books

Amazon Pulls Macmillan Books Over E-Book Price Disagreement
Amazon conceded to Macmillan hours after we finished recording.

Comments Off Posted in: Podcast on February 1, 2010

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