In a strong affirmation of the privacy interests of cellphone users, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) ruled unanimously earlier this week that law enforcement agencies in the Commonwealth must obtain a warrant to access anything more than a minimal amount of the cell-site location information (CSLI) that telecommunications companies collect about their users. The Cyberlaw Clinic filed an amicus brief in Commonwealth v. Estabrook on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts (ACLUM) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in support of privacy protection for CSLI.
“Holy copyright law, Batman!” Although this sounds like Robin, it is actually a line from a federal appeals court opinion issued this week, holding that Batman’s iconic car is entitled to copyright protection. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit sided with DC Comics in its claim to a copyright interest in the Batmobile, ruling in DC Comics v. Towle that the automobile was sufficiently distinctive to be deemed a protectable character. DC Comics had sued defendant Mark Towle for, among other things, copyright infringement and trademark infringement, based on his sale of replicas of the car. Mark Towle’s Gotham Garage sold replicas of the Batmobile as it appeared in the 1966 television series featuring Adam West as Batman and the 1989 movie starring Michael Keaton for approximately $90,000.
The Cyberlaw Clinic is delighted to announce that on October 8, 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit will be holding oral arguments at Harvard Law School, in the Ames Courtroom in Austin Hall. The court will hear four cases, starting at 2:00pm.
This fall, the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship is launching a new experimental course on FinTech (the use of innovative technologies in financial services). The course will meet for seven sessions on Tuesday evenings, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, starting October 27th. As currently envisioned, the course will focus on FinTech opportunities in payments, cryptocurrencies, lending, electronic trading and consumer finance. Most of the students in the course will be from MIT (chiefly the Sloan School and Computer Science Department), but the organizers also hope to attract a limited number of HLS students with interests in innovation and financial regulation. Students enrolled in the course will work in teams to develop a business plan for a new FinTech product. The plans will be eligible for entry in the MIT FinTech Competition and 100k Business Plan Competition in the Spring of 2016. If you are interested in learning more about this offering and the logistics of cross-registration, please contact Professor Howell Jackson (email@example.com) or Carlos Sanchez Altable at the MIT Marin Center (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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.
The Cyberlaw Clinic is pleased to report that earlier today the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General released its internal audit of the FBI’s use of Section 215 of the Patriot Act from 2007–2009. Release of the Inspector General report comes soon after the Clinic prepared a FOIA request seeking a copy of the report, on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project.
The Ninth Circuit issued its long-awaited en banc opinion in the case, Garcia v. Google, this week, and the decision is generally a big win for advocates of free speech. A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit had previously enjoined YouTube from hosting the controversial Innocence of Muslims video, which received worldwide attention in September 2012 for its disparaging remarks about the Prophet Mohammed. Plaintiff Cindy Lee Garcia, an actress who appeared in Innocence of Muslims, claimed a copyright interest in the film based on her performance and used that purported copyright as grounds to demand YouTube remove the video.
Yesterday was a busy day before the Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts (SJC), as the Court heard arguments in Commonwealth v. Estabrook and Commonwealth v. Lucas. The Cyberlaw Clinic filed amicus briefs in both cases. Clinic students Naomi Gilens (JD ’16) and Sandra Hanian (JD ’15) attended the arguments on Thursday, along with Clinical Instructor Vivek Krishnamurthy and Clinical Fellow Andy Sellars.
Spring 2015 Cyberlaw Clinic students Jack Xu and Cecillia Xie joined the Clinic’s Managing Director Chris Bavitz on a trip to Seattle last month to participate in the WeRobot 2015 robotics law and policy conference at University of Washington School of Law in Seattle. Accompanied by Chelsea Barabas of the MIT Center for Civic Media, the Clinic’s representatives attended the conference to present their working draft paper entitled, “Legal and Ethical Issues in the Use of Telepresence Robots: Best Practices and Toolkit.” J. Nathan Matias, also of the Center for Civic Media, contributed to the paper but was unable to attend the event.