Technologist - FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog


When a company experiences a data breach, Massachusetts wants the public to know. The commonwealth is currently expanding its public Data Breach Notification Archive to include information about security breaches effecting Massachusetts citizens -- going all the way back to 2007.

Massachusetts isn't alone. California, Oregon, and Washington all have laws allowing public access to data breach information. And those laws, some wager, could be great news for the plaintiff's bar.

Star Trek Fan Film 'Axanar' Goes to Trial for Copyright Infringement

Here's an IP lawsuit that's almost from another universe: Paramount v. Axanar is a copyright case against a start-up company that makes fan fiction based on the Star Trek television and movie series.

But it's more than a battle between the Star Trek copyright owners and anyone who may use their universe to create spin-offs. It's more than a battle between a Goliath (the movies alone have made more than $2 billion) and a Davidic start-up (which collected about $1 million through crowd-funding). It's a battle about the Klingons.

Yes, Klingons are entirely fictitious -- except perhaps for those fans who wear Klingon costumes to Trekkie conventions. But the Language Creation Society is real, and it recently jumped into the fray to protect the aliens' language.

President-elect Donald Trump announced that Rudy Giuliani would be serving the new administration as a cybersecurity advisor last week. As "cyberczar" the former mayor of New York will lead a government cybersecurity task force and conduct meetings "from time to time" with corporate leaders.

The post, which comes with no official title, is considered a consolation prize for Giuliani, long one of Trump's main backers. But the choice has also been criticized by many who view Giuliani as unprepared to advise the government on important technological issues, particularly in light of Russian hacking during the past election.

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) generally grants broad immunity to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) with respect to third-party content posted on the ISP sites. The legislative history behind CDA Section 230 makes plain that Congress intended for the Internet to flourish for businesses and the US economy, and that intent would be thwarted if ISPs had the onerous duty to police and somehow regulate information and communications posted on their sites by others the ISPs do not control.

Nevertheless, there have been efforts in legal cases to chip away at the broad immunity afforded to ISPs by CDA Section 230. One such effort is the recent legal case Jane Doe No. 1 v. Backpage.com, LLC.

Checklist for Updating Your Law Office Technologies

Usually, technology evolves faster than the law firm. Sometimes, however, law firms evolve faster than their technologies.

This can be a good thing because it may be a sign a law firm is growing. At the same time, lagging technology may be one of the growing pains.

In any case, it is important to assess the firm's technologies from time to time because technology always affects the bottom line. Technology can increase profits if it increases productivity, but it can also cost more than it's worth if it is not efficient.

Here's a checklist for updating your law office technologies:

'Inventor of Email' Sues Techdirt to Prove It

The supposed inventor of email has sued a blogger website that doesn't believe he invented it.

Techdirt, an irreverent blogsite about changes in government policy, technology, and legal issues, reported in a series of stories that Shiva Ayyadurai falsely claims to have invented email. Ayyarduri, who copyrighted "Email" and trademarked "The Inventor of Email," has sued Techdirt for defamation.

In a $15 million complaint filed in federal court, the plaintiff alleges that Techdirt and its founder Michael D. Masnick have damaged his reputation by publishing false stories saying Ayyarduri was a liar and a fake "who's basically staked his entire life on the misleading to false claim that he 'invented' email." They defend that they have a First Amendment right to express their opinions.

New Data Company Releases Analytics on International Commercial Arbitration

A new database has been published with more than 66,000 data fields on thousands of commercial arbitration cases in 136 countries, enabling legal professionals to analyze international arbitration in new ways.

No, it's not from Wikileaks or Edward Snowden. It's from a start-up company called Dispute Resolution Data, which has contracts to collect and release the information from some 20 arbitration institutions.

This is a significant release of information because, historically, commercial arbitration has been confidential. Commercial arbitrators have closely guarded case information to maintain participant privacy. Dispute Resolution Data takes that information and creates research analytics.

If you hand your computer over to Best Buy's Geek Squad for repairs, you might get more than just a quick fix. You might get reported to the FBI. That's because the FBI pays Best Buy technicians who discover and report child pornography to the agency, according to a lawsuit in California.

But when the Geek Squad snoops on behalf of the government, are such searches legal?

High Court Spares Backpage Adult Services Ads, but 'Censors Have Prevailed'

For online publishers, the law giveth and the law taketh away.

Just after the U.S. Supreme Court turned back a case challenging federal shield laws for online publisher Backpage, the embattled company shut down its adult services section under pressure from the U.S. Senate.

On Monday, the high court let stand a decision against women who sued Backpage for facilitating child sex trafficking and left in place the Communications Decency Act that has protected website operators from liability for content posted by others. Late Monday, Backpage shuttered its classified ads for adult services amidst Senate allegations that it was involved in online prostitution.

"Backpage's response wasn't to deny what we said. It was to shut down their site," the senators said in a statement. "That's not 'censorship' -- it's validation of our findings."

There are some tech devices that all attorneys need. Things like decent computers, quality printers, and effective software are essential for today's practice. Then there's tech that many lawyers should have, like a mostly paperless practice options and good practice management software. But more importantly, there's the tech that attorneys don't need, but want. Really want, because they're cool, helpful, novel, or just entertaining. That's what we're focusing on today.

Here are five nonessential but very worthwhile gadgets you might be interested in, taken from the FindLaw archives.