Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

January 2016 Archives

Copyright Infringers May Get Relief From Huge Monetary Demands

The Internet Policy Task Force from the US Dept. of Commerce made a recommendation that Congress should alter the Copyright Act in such a way to reduce overall money damages in copyright disputes.

The recommendation is not to do away with the $150,000 per violation rule; however, the changes will generally make it much more difficult to ever get that number.

Hundreds of thousands of people are trafficked every year. They're smuggled across borders, forced into sex work, or used as unpaid labor. In all, there are nearly twice as many modern day slaves as there were at the height of the transatlantic slave trade 350 years ago.

While human trafficking is generally a low-tech industry, "big data" from some of the world's biggest financial institutions is being mined in order to identify and combat the crime -- part of what's been called a data war against human rights abuses.

Oculus Founder Sued for Breach of Contract

Palmer Luckey, the founder of FaceBook's Oculus VR division, will face a civil lawsuit brought by Total Recall Technologies.

However, Luckey was able to have additional claims against him dropped -- like fraud.

There are apps for monitoring your billing, apps for tracking your time, apps for invoicing clients. There are even apps that allow you to send and receive cash with the click of a button, meaning you can pay and get paid without ever having to see a bank teller again.

Such money transfer or "peer-to-peer payment" apps have exploded in the past few years as companies have moved to take advantage of a market that sees more than $1 trillion in transfers every year. Venmo, Square Cash, and others all seek to make sending and receiving money as simple as hitting a button on a smart phone. Should lawyers get on board?

ACLU Launches Pro-Privacy Bills in Tech Campaign

The ACLU just upped its geek factor (and possible cred points with the EFF) by launching a handful of pro-tech-privacy bills in just as many states across the nation.

The "TakeCTRL" campaign will impose various technology-privacy related limitations on mostly state actors. Take that, Big Brother!

In the good old days, a cyberattack meant the loss of data. Sure, a hack could be crippling, but its effects were largely confined to 1's and 0's. But now, as the digital sphere is melding more totally and seamlessly with the physical one, the reach of hackers has grown.

Today, a hack can do much more than steal your information or shut down your computer system. It can commandeer your car or send whole cities grinding to a halt. Here's a quick overview of how hacking has moved from the digital to the real world, turning everyday objects into potential security threats.

When the consumer electronics industry gathered for the International Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas two weeks ago, the mood was generally celebratory and the Internet of Things -- that interconnected network of web-enabled gadgets -- was at the center of much of it. Smart devices were everywhere, from watches to fridges to burglar alarms. Commentators on Forbes declared that CES 2016 was the year when the Internet of Things went "from smart to wicked intelligent."

But not everyone was on the bandwagon. Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez was on hand to pour some much needed rain on the IoT parade, warning that until the industry addressed privacy concerns, it would still face major challenges.

SCOTUS to Review Validity of Patent 'Death Squads'

The nation's highest court is scheduled to scrutinize what a former federal judge ominously labeled as patent 'death squads,' referring to the Patent Trial and Appeal Board as set out by President Obama's 2011 America Invents Act. Several years' worth of hindsight has left many with a sour taste in their mouths about how effective the Act was.

It is predicted that companies that benefit the most from the system (large, well monied tech companies such as Google and Apple) will interject and argue vociferously for the PTAB's efficacy.

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

Sadly, we lost David Bowie last week. Most of us remember his songs -- so many, and so varied across the decades. And, of course, there is no way to forget Bowie's ever-changing image over the years. But not to be lost in the shuffle is the fact that Bowie was such an innovator, he also anticipated the full impact of the Internet.

Bowie's prescience when it came to the Internet was explained in a recent article in The Verge. Let's delve in a bit.

Is Your Website ADA Compliant? Should It Be?

Does your website feature audio narrations to accompany every image or video to aid the hard-of-hearing? Are they equipped with alternative text that can be read by software aloud for the visually impaired? We doubt it.

The good news is that you're not alone. The bad news is that it could soon be a violation of federal and state law. This arises out of growing worry over the applicability of some sections of the American with Disabilities Act to business websites, a legal issue that had previously sounded too far-fetched to even be concerned about. The question remains -- is your website compliant?

If your PC is still running on Windows 8, it's time for a change. Yeah, the operating system is a hard-to-use mess, better designed for tablets than desktops, and more focused on bad apps than business. But that's not why you need to ditch it right now.

Starting this week, Windows 8 isn't just clunky. It's dangerous. As of January 12th, 2016, Windows 8 is no longer supported by Microsoft, exposing those who continue to use it to potential security risks. It really is time to upgrade.

If you've seen video of self-driving cars cruising through the streets of Manhattan or San Francisco and it slightly terrified you, you weren't alone. Self-driving cars still struggle with things like rain. Can they really handle Bay Area bikers or New York pedestrians?

But whether you fear or love self-driving cars, they're probably here to stay. And now if they stay, they'll be both supported and regulated by the federal government. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced today that the government will be investing nearly $4 billion in test projects and creation new regulations for autonomous cars that could be in place within six months.

2016 Is Looking Great for Patent Law

The new year just started, but already there are a number of high profile patent cases brewing. The cases of Halo and Stryker will especially carry the attention of all IP lawyer.

Not far behind the twin cases is a hoard of patent cases all pending cert. 2016 promises to be a very fruitful year for patent law.

If you've ever lost a file or spent hours searching for an incorrectly filed document -- and we all have -- you know that poor document management can be a major thorn in your practice's side. Not only is bad document management annoying to you, though. It wastes your staff's time and your clients' money.

Upgrading your document management system can help solve these problems. And it's not nearly as daunting (or expensive) as you might imagine. Here's how to go about it.

The list of things they don't teach you in law school is endless. Common sense? Hardly. Career planning? Nope. How to avoid massive debt? Ha! But chief among the skills you don't learn in law school is how to lawyer. If you don't take advantage of "extras" like clinical education, internships, and competitions, it's quite possible to graduate law school without the slightest idea of what working as a lawyer actually entails.

But while critics have long called for a more practice-ready legal education, some are going a step farther. Law students shouldn't just know how to file something with the county clerk, they need to know all the key competencies of lawyering in the modern day, and that includes hands-on experience with eDiscovery.

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

There have been recent claims that North Korea successfully conducted a hydrogen bomb test. Plainly, if North Korea has this capability, there would be cause for concern. But, according to CNN, the White House is skeptical, and the Air Force may send a "sniffer" jet in the region of the Korean Peninsula to help ascertain whether North Korea's claims are accurate.

What Will 2016 Bring to the Legal Industry?

Will this be the year lawyers are replaced by computers? Are law firm destined to be attacked by hackers in 2016? We hope not!

In the spirit of camaraderie, we feel it's our obligation to highlight some of the most likely legal predictions for 2016.

U.S. Copyright Office Wants You to Comment on the DMCA

Just before 2015 became yesterday's news, the United States Copyright Office issued a statement of intended plans to open a public study meant to "evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the safe harbor provisions contained in section 512 of title 17, U.S.C."

For those who aren't copyright law geeks, that's part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. These are the carve outs that allow online copyright use without first contacting the copyright holders. Own a copyright? Hate the law as it is written? Now's your chance to voice your opinion.

HDFury Sued by Warner Bros. for Product That Copies 4K Video

Another new year, another fresh intellectual property lawsuit to start things off. Warner Bros. and the creator and license holder of HDCP (Hi-Definition Copyright Protection) software, Digitial Content Protection, LLC, have jointly sued Chinese outfit Legendsky (dba HDFury) over allegations that at least one of its devices strips content of its digital copyright protection, rendering it viewable on devices not originally intended by the studios.

The guy who ran the HD Fury website seemed not to have any qualms at all about the "HD Fury Integral" device, marketing it as liberation from "HDCP errors".

If you're a patent lawyer, 2015 was a bumper year. A new report shows that patent disputes increased by 13 percent compared to 2014. Patent disputes, including both district court litigation and inter partes review, were at an all time high, at about 7,500 disputes.

Thought the climate for patent litigation has shifted over the past few years, data shows that patent trolls continue to be the driving force behind disputes and that the Eastern District of Texas remains their favored home. But, despite the increase in disputes, it's likely that patent trolling is become a less remunerative activity. Here's why.

Worldwide eDiscovery Market Is Now Just Over $10 Billion

It's more clear than ever that electronic discovery is now playing a major role in the discovery process. At least in civil discovery, it looks as though the endless quest towards the paperless office continues.

How big is eDiscovery now? Well, according to the International Data Corporation, just over $10 billion worldwide.

Top Internet Law Story for 2015

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

As the Internet grows and develops, the law is fast on its heels -- attempting to resolve difficult cases and seeking to regulate new and different online scenarios. The Year 2015 was replete with important and fascinating Internet stories.

Just to name some top stories in brief (with the number one story at the end):

It's been less than two years since Edward Snowden revealed the extent of warrantless government surveillance, hopped on a plane, and made his new home in freedom-loving Mother Russia. Since then, several lawsuits have attempted to halt the National Security Agency's bulk telephone metadata collection program. A few of them were even initially successful.

The new year could see those cases dismissed as moot, though government surveillance lingers on.