Harvard Law School‘s Cyberlaw Clinic, based at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, provides high-quality, pro-bono legal services to appropriate clients on issues relating to the Internet, technology, and intellectual property. Students enhance their preparation for high-tech practice and earn course credit by working on real-world litigation, client counseling, advocacy, and transactional / licensing projects and cases. The Clinic strives to help clients achieve success in their activities online, mindful of (and in response to) existing law. The Clinic also works with clients to shape the law’s development through policy and advocacy efforts. The Cyberlaw Clinic was the first of its kind, and it continues its tradition of innovation in its areas of practice. The Clinic works independently, with law students supervised by experienced and licensed attorneys. In some cases, the Clinic collaborates with counsel throughout the country to take advantage of regional or substantive legal expertise.
From the Blog
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court handed a big win to free speech advocates today in its decision in Commonwealth v. Lucas, siding with defendant Melissa Lucas and declaring Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 56, Section 42 (“Section 42”) unconstitutional. The Cyberlaw Clinic filed an amicus brief (PDF) in the case, in support of defendant Lucas, on behalf of the New England First Amendment Coalition, Boston Globe Media Partners, LLC (owners of the Boston Globe), Hearst Television, Inc. (owners of WCVB-TV Channel 5 in Boston), the Massachusetts Newspaper Publishers Association, the New England Newspaper and Press Association, Inc., and the New England Society of Newspaper Editors. The SJC’s reasoning followed many of the arguments advanced by our amicus coalition.
Over the past several months the Cyberlaw Clinic has been working with medical device researchers Hugo Campos, Jay Radcliffe, Karen Sandler, and Ben West, in a proceeding before the Copyright Office regarding the anticircumvention laws created in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Here’s what we’ve been doing, and why we’re doing it.
The Clinic has written about this proceeding twice before, but as a quick review: our clients each study the safety, security, and effectiveness of medical devices. Some look at the devices from a system design perspective, analyzing the hardware and software of the devices for misconfigurations or vulnerabilities. Others look at the devices as they are applied to a particular patient’s care, and help patients retrieve important information off the devices that the device otherwise would not share, or would only make available through periodic checkups with doctors once every several months. Their research has helped patients and doctors better tailor care, the public understand the nature of medical device risks, and regulatory agencies like FDA improve government oversight of devices.
On December 5, 2014 the Cyberlaw Clinic filed an amicus letter in the Supreme Court of California on behalf of Global Voices Advocacy and the Media Legal Defence Initiative in the case of Wineland-Thomson Adventures, Inc. v. Doe 1, No. S222624. In the brief, we argue that California’s anti -SLAPP law, Cal. Code Civ. P. § 425.16, should not allow a defamation plaintiff to survive a motion to strike if their complaint does not specify which statements on the defendant’s website they allege to be defamatory. The brief further argues that courts should not place a lower burden on defamation plaintiffs to prove a valid claim under anti-SLAPP law when suing anonymous online speakers. The amicus letter – a special form of brief allowed by the Supreme Court of California when they are considering taking on a case – demonstrates why the decision below can have particularly negative effects on independent online media operating internationally, who rely on Internet services in California to get their message out to the world.