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February 27, 2009
by Thomas O'Toole
Last month Twitter adopted a new policy on name-squatting and impersonation. Here it is in action, from a post on Twitter co-founder Evan Williams's blog:
February 26, 2009
Quite a few stories have been written about BlockShopper's settlement of a trademark infringement lawsuit brought against it by Jones Day, a lawfirm that was (apparently) upset about Blockshopper's use of hyperlinks to biographies of firm partners and associates on its Web site. Familiar online themes of righteous indignation, David v. Goliath, Luddites messing with the Internet here and here, bad lawyer, and bad trademark law dominated the discussion.
February 24, 2009
Late last week a federal court in Vermont decided that a criminal defendant's compelled act of producing unencrypted contents of an encrypted laptop is not protected by the Fifth Amendment's privilege against compelled self-incrimination. The closely watched case of United States v. Boucher is a throwback to cyberlaw's Cryptozoic Era, the days of Clipper Chip, CALEA, United States v. Bernstein, the shadowy legal status of PGP, and crypto export regs. The court's resolution of this issue is not going to satisfy everyone, especially persons who believe that encrypting their laptops is a good protection against suspicionless border searches.
February 3, 2009
[UPDATE: After posting the message below, it dawned on me that there is a connection between Google's troubles in Italy and cases it has litigated in France. According to one report, the Italian prosecutor is seeking to hold Google liable as a publisher of the materials uploaded to Google Video. In Jean-Yves L. v. YouTube et al, a 2008 ruling involving copyrighted videos that had been uploaded to YouTube without permission, the court ruled that Google was a Web host, not a publisher. The ruling was a victory for Google because, in France and in other European countries, a publisher is strictly liable for content on its site. But the law is by no means settled on the proper categorization of user-generated content sites, in France or in Italy.]
Widespread publicity today (here, here, and here) about the legal troubles of Google officials over the posting of distasteful video on Google Video is yet another reminder that the U.S. legal system is, well, the U.S. legal system. Online, we have safe harbors for third-party content, our privacy laws are forgiving or non-existent, and we have the First Amendment to protect even the coarsest utterance. Things are done differently elsewhere. Google's Italian troubles are merely the latest evidence of this obvious-to-all state of affairs.
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