2014 Cyberlaw Clinic Year in Review

2014 ImageOverview

The Cyberlaw Clinic began in 1999, with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society’s announcement of a new “Clinical Research Program.” As the program heads into its sixteenth year, we at the Clinic have the opportunity to reflect on the events of 2014­. From student work and public events, to changes among the Clinic staff, to new modes of teaching and updates to structure of the program itself, we wanted to share some highlights of the past calendar year as we look ahead to the rest of 2015.

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Protecting Anonymous Speech Under California’s Anti-SLAPP Law

WinelandThomsonamicuslettercoverOn Friday the Cyberlaw Clinic filed an amicus letter (PDF) on behalf of Global Voices Advocacy and the Media Legal Defence Initiative on an important case concerning anti-SLAPP law in California, currently being petitioned for review by the Supreme Court of California. Anti-SLAPP laws exist in numerous states to protect those speaking in government proceedings or on matters of public concern from facing frivilous lawsuits designed to dissuade them from speaking out. (“SLAPP” is an acronym for “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation.”) In order to quickly remove vexatious lawsuits while allowing valid claims to go through, courts considering an anti-SLAPP motion require plaintiffs to show that a lawsuit has merit before before allowing the litigation go forward. Under California’s anti-SLAPP law, this means the plaintiff must state and substantiate all elements of their claim if they want to proceed. When a lawsuit is based on a claim of defamation, this includes proving that the speaker acted with fault, either with negligence or “actual malice.”

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Student Voices: Bitcoin and the Law

bitcoin-225079_1280“Bitcoin” and “law.” At first glance, the two concepts seem unlikely to appear together in a sentence, unless that sentence is “bitcoin exists outside the law” or “bitcoin was used to break the law.” Much of the mainstream media’s coverage of Bitcoin focuses on cases like the prosecution of the founder of Silk Road, a “Deep Web” marketplace where drugs were bought and sold using bitcoins. On the other hand, many within the Bitcoin community believe Bitcoin either cannot or should not be regulated.

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Mayor Menino’s Legacy of Civic Technology

To be in Boston on Thursday, October 30th was to be in mourning for the Mayor who led the City on the Hill for two decades, Thomas Menino. As Boston’s citizens paid tribute to the man nicknamed the “urban mechanic” for his attention to the minutiae of city life, many cited ways in which the late Mr. Menino had used technology to make large-scale changes aimed at improving government efficiency, even when he himself was often the least tech-savvy person in the room.

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Cyberlaw Clinic files Petition on Behalf of Medical Device Researchers at the Copyright Office

Copyright OfficeThe Cyberlaw Clinic has filed a petition on behalf of a coalition of medical device researchers as part of the Copyright Office and Library of Congress’ rulemaking for exemptions to copyright’s anti-circumvention law. Every three years the Librarian of Congress, at the recommendation of the Register of Copyrights, considers exemptions to the general law against circumventing technological measures that prevent the public from accessing copyrighted works. These exemptions are granted in cases where the law against circumventing technological measures around copyrighted works unduly impedes on lawful uses of those works. (For more on anti-circumvention law, see the Chilling Effects FAQ.)

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Deans’ Food System Challenge Kicks Off at Harvard i-Lab

Harvard Innovation LabEach year, the Harvard Innovation Lab administers several Harvard University-wide challenges.  The competitions include the “President’s Challenge” (overseen by Harvard President Drew Faust‘s office) and several “Deans’ Challenges” (each launched by a dean or group of deans at Harvard, aimed at solving specified technical, business, or social problems). 

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Apply to Enroll in CopyrightX 2015

Applications are open through December 15, 2014 for the innovative CopyrightX networked online course, which explores the current law of copyright; the impact of that law on art, entertainment, and industry; and the ongoing debates concerning how the law should be reformed.  Through a combination of recorded lectures,assigned readings, weekly seminars, live interactive webcasts, and online discussions, participants in the course examine and assess the ways in which the copyright system seeks to stimulate and regulate creative expression.

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Work with the Cyberlaw Clinic During HLS Winter Term, 2015!

6853The Cyberlaw Clinic will offer a a small number of HLS 2Ls and 3Ls who previously enrolled in the Clinic the opportunity work with us during the three weeks of winter term, 2015.  Winter term students will help the Clinic with discrete projects that will benefit from full-time (if short-term) student involvement.  Winter term in the Cyberlaw Clinic essentially functions as a full-time job, with students working 40-hours-a-week for three weeks.  

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Ninth Circuit Hears Oral Argument in NSL Gag Order Case

15481641875_0a98c72763_k copyThe Electronic Frontier Foundation‘s Deputy General Counsel (and Berkman Center Affiliate) Kurt Opsahl argued before a Ninth Circuit panel this week in a case – In re: National Security Letter, Under Seal v. Holder (Sealed), 13-15957 & 13-16731 (consolidated), 13-16732 — that challenges the constitutionality of gag orders embodied in National Security Letters.  The Ninth Circuit has posted audio of the arguments before Judges Ikuta, Smith, and Murguia.  

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100kin10 Launches “Blow Minds Teach Stem” Campaign

BMTSOur friends at 100kin10 have launched their innovative “Blow Minds Teach STEM” campaign, geared toward promoting science, technology, engineering, and math teaching! 100kin10 maintains a unique network of 150+ partners that aims to support the goal of providing America’s classrooms with 100,000 excellent STEM teachers by 2021.  The “Blow Minds” campaign urges science, technology, engineering, and math majors to consider teaching careers and enroll in teacher training programs.  The multimedia campaign — developed in collaboration with the creative team at Cultivated Wit — includes a Tumblr dedicated to development and curation of “science-tainment” and a set of resources directed to STEM majors who are considering teaching careers.

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