CLIP-ings: November 4, 2016

Internet Governance

The Ballot of the Dark Web: Police in various countries, including the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK, recently cracked down on users of the “Dark Web,” warning and even arresting specific buyers and sellers of illegal drugs and goods such as live turtles and counterfeits.


Campaigning for Transparency: Facebook-owned texting app WhatsApp is under scrutiny by the European Article 29 Working Party, which is concerned that, after WhatsApp updated its privacy policy this summer to reflect Facebook’s new access to WhatsApp user data, these terms may not have been communicated to users in a legally permissible way.

Solving Crime Through Text Messaging: In an attempt to find a killer, police in Ontario have obtained the phone numbers of 7,500 people from a cell tower and plan to send them text messages asking to fill out an online questionnaire to determine whether they witnessed the murder; though responses are voluntary, police may make follow-up calls to those who don’t respond and have expressed no plans for deleting any of the collected data.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Nominating a New Policy: With the worldwide cost of cyberspace crimes estimated at $445 billion, the UK has launched a new initiative, the National Cyber Security Strategy, which outlines a plan to augment the UK’s defenses by using automated defense techniques, to strengthen law enforcement resources that detect cyber criminals, and to develop the nation’s next generation of cyberspace experts.

iOS Bug Calls 911: A teenager is facing multiple felony computer tampering charges after an alleged prank in which he admitted to discovering an iOS bug, tampering with it by inputting his own code, then spreading a link containing the bug through social media, which caused people’s iPhones to repeatedly dial 911, thereby threatening to take down the emergency system in parts of Arizona, California, and Texas.

Intellectual Property

A Vote for Harmony: Germany’s royalty collecting association GEMA has ended a 7-year dispute with YouTube that stemmed from GEMA’s demand for 17 cents per YouTube stream of content represented by GEMA; as a result of this settlement, German YouTube users will now be able to access many music videos that were once blocked.

Not Much Cheering in the Supreme Court: In a landmark case for copyright law in the fashion industry, Star Athletica v. Varsity Brands is before the Supreme Court to determine whether certain aspects of cheerleading uniforms should receive copyright protection; while Justice Ginsburg agreed on Monday that the two-dimensional designs may be separable from the three-dimensional cut and shape of the garment, Chief Justice Roberts disagreed, saying that the artwork is applied to the fabric to merely serve a utilitarian function, and thus not copyrightable.

Free Expression and Censorship

Debating Free Speech: The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the State of California on Monday, claiming that a 12-year-old ban on taking photographs of voter ballots, which is currently espoused by 18 different states, is outdated and a First Amendment violation, since voters express their enthusiasm, support, and patriotism for the nation’s election through taking and sharing these photos.

How to Censor the Election for Kids: Since Calvin Coolidge’s presidential campaign in 1924, children’s book publisher Scholastic has been providing child-appropriate election news to schools, but this year the preteen reporters of Scholastic’s children’s press corps program are facing new challenges on how to report the news for other young readers, considering this election’s especially controversial topics.

Practice Note

Electing to Hack: The Copyright Office has enacted a new exception to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which previously allowed manufacturers to sue digital device owners who hack into their device’s software and expose security vulnerabilities; the new exception will exist for a trial period of 2 years and will allow these hacks, for example, when they are conducted for the purpose of security research and digital repair of vehicles that employ this technology.

On the Lighter Side

Virtual Hairstyling: L’Oréal’s hairstylist training program, Matrix Academy, will now feature virtual reality that will allow trainees to immerse themselves in a room-sized program and observe from every angle a hologram of an actual stylist cutting a client’s hair.

Joel R. Reidenberg
Stanley D. and Nikki Waxberg Chair and Professor of Law and Founding Academic Director, CLIP

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Editorial Fellows, CLIP
Nadia Kashem
Meghna Prasad