The Week In Internet Law: Illegal Downloading, Online Privacy & Gambling, FTC Happenings

criminal cat
LOL Cat of the Week: Cat was caught trying to enter a max security prison with a few shivs and other jail accoutrement duck-taped to its middle. Source:

Catch up on the noteworthy, newsworthy and insignificant-but-interesting Internet law news for the week of December 31, 2012 – January 4, 2013.

Online Copyright Infringement

Prenda’s Legal Tantrum

The mystery of Alan Cooper continues to color Prenda’s illegal downloading dragnet. The story is now so sorted, I half expect Hercule Poirot to enter stage left. In the last installment of the copyright troll saga, a new character named Alan Cooper was introduced. A contractor who once worked for John Steele (the corporate plaintiff), Alan Cooper’s name appeared on official documents as being the CEO of AF Holdings (Steele’s company). Alan began to wonder if he was the “Alan Cooper” in the documents. Lawyering ensued and a decision was made: Prenda would have to produce evidence that Alan Cooper is not that Alan Cooper – signature verification too, please; K, thanks.

To find out Prenda’s unbelievable next move, head over to TechDirt…it’s a jaw-dropper.

USC & Hollywood: An Anti-Piracy Love Story

Will 2013 be the year of academic anti-piracy studies? This week, the University of Southern California – an academic institution happily entrenched in the Hollywood ecosystem — released a study of the top 10 pirate-supporting ad networks. Google and Yahoo! landed on the list.  USC was sure to highlight – with what seemed like a hint of smug satisfaction — that their data came from Google’s own transparency report. The problem is that Google’s transparency report doesn’t reflect invalid or bogus DMCA requests, rendering it an inchoate data set. Read Google’s “grok the cloud or GTFO” reaction to USC’s piracy report over at CNet.

3DS v. Homebrew v. Watsham

The Nintendo Homebrew community did it again. Word hit the wire this week that hackers successfully breeched 3Ds’ platform. Jools Watsham, head of Renegade Kid Gaming, wasn’t psyched about the news and posted an impassioned plea threatening to stop developing games if the platform is exploited. In his missive, Watsham also urged hackers to join “The Force.”

Federal Trade Commission Internet Law Issues

The FTC, Google and Microsoft: A Tale of Anti-trust

The FTC emerged from behind the curtain to formally announce their anti-trust deal with Google. In short, Google agreed to catch the FRAND spirit, not “scrape” review content from other sites, and perform some jiggery-pokery that will allow for easier data transfer to third-party advertisers. Upon learning of the deal, Microsoft had an understandable Veruca Salt meltdown.

The FTC Is Still After Diet Pill Pushers

America’s consumer protection agency also made an appearance on 20/20. This week’s hour was dedicated to weight loss and associated industries – including pound- dropping, product-pimping affiliate sites. The commission’s message is crystal clear: we’re on the hunt for sketchy product pushers with non-compliant websites; we are legion; we won’t be kind. You’ve been warned.

Online Privacy

New App Ain’t Making ‘Rents Smile

Snapchat is the new nightmare app for hand-wringing parents with sexting-curious teenagers. The gimmick: every “snap” sent self-destructs within seconds. But like nearly all digital communiqués, experts are now sounding the horn that those snapchats may not really disappear. Dun, dun, dun!

New Netflix Law: All Your Viewing Belong To Us

Don’t want your NASCAR friends to know you’re a faithful Downton Abbey fan? If so, you may want to read this article about changes made to the Video Privacy Protection Act that were signed into law a few days before Hogmanay. Brass tax: online rental (and possibly streaming) platforms can now share your viewing history with the world. You can opt out; but be sure to do it right the first time or prepare to be “borked” for at least two years.

International Internet Law Milestones

China’s New Big-Brothery Internet Laws Are Now In Effect

China’s got a whole new slew of Internet laws that would make Stalin smile. (Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that they said they were going to ease up on the whole Golden Shield thing? Oh well, c’est La China.) The most noteworthy of China’s new restrictive regulations: every broadband and web service provider must have the full “real names” of all their users on record – a huge problem for the country’s Twitter equivalent, Sina Weibo. Site operators in China, from here on out, must follow a handy 12-point plan which outlines how to control what people post on their networks. To draw a workable – but not 100% accurate — comparison, China’s new Internet law is essentially the opposite of Section 230 of the CDA, which provides safe harbor for website operators in the event actionable third-party content is posted on their sites.

Antigua: “I Want My Two Twenty-One-Million Dollars!”

After being told “the check’s in the mail” one too many times, Antiguan officials are looking to legalize piracy against U.S. entities. Why is the island nation considering piracy as an embargo option? Well, they never received the $21 million the U.S. government agreed to pay back to the mid-90s as a result of a World Trade Organization judgment. Can they do that? Could it work? Skip on over to PokerFuse for the answers.

World Intellectual Property Organization Stats…Mean Very Little

A few “scare ‘em with stats” reports hit this week concerning an “All Time High!” number of UDRP cases filed with the WIPO in 2012. The thing is that an increase in cases doesn’t necessarily signal an increase in cybersquatting, just an increase in lawyering. Head on over to DomainNameWire to find out why more domain dispute cases are not another subtle sign of the coming apocalypse.

Internet Law Bytes

JDSupra’s outlines the hot Internet law issues for 2013

The United States Patent and Trademark Office announced two roundtable discussions that will focus on software patent reform.

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