CLIP-ings: June 16, 2017

Internet Governance

Paid Postgramming: Instagram unveiled a new “branded content tool” that will help users tell the difference between sponsor-free posts and paid posts that signal partnerships with influencers, and it will help influencers and sponsors collect data on how the sponsored posts perform with users.

Classified Covfefe: As the White House states that social media posts should be considered as official presidential communications, lawmakers hope to amend the Presidential Record Act via the passing of the Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement (COVFEFE) Act.


Capable Crusader? With the identity of the perpetrator unknown, a lawyer unsuccessfully sued Facebook after his account was hacked and compromised with revenge porn postings; the 9th Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling that under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, Facebook as a third party to the hack was not liable for such conduct.

Privacy for the Pro: While professional athletes’ status as public figures substantially affects the scope of their privacy rights, at least one federal district court has articulated additional privacy protections that loosen the otherwise higher standard for athletes to show that a public disclosure of private information amounts to an invasion of privacy.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Cyberwar, cont. More than a year after launching a cyber offensive against the Islamic State that has yielded inconsistent results, U.S. counterterrorism officials are retooling their cyber warfare techniques with the goal of permanently dismantling ISIS cyber-infrastructure through more robust attacks.

Tweets from Thieves: A security research group has uncovered an international hacking scheme called the “Doubleswitch” in which hackers compromise the Twitter accounts of activists and journalists, locking the victims out of their accounts and allowing the hackers to use seemingly legitimate handles to disseminate fake news.

There Goes the Grid: U.S. intelligence officials are worried that the malware believed to have shut down part of the electric grid in Ukraine last year can be leveraged against other countries at a much larger scale, but the risk could provide the impetus for countries to better secure their power grids.

Intellectual Property

Tough Time for Trolling: Louis Vuitton is pushing back against being regarded as a “troll” as it is being sued for attorneys fees in its failed trademark infringement and trademark dilution litigation against the creator of “My Other Bag”; meanwhile, the 7th Circuit has squandered the hopes of housing copyright “trolls” who bring cases under the obscure Architectural Works Copyright Protection Act of 1990.

Free Expression and Censorship

Free Speech Frenzy? University of Wisconsin faculty and administrators are concerned about the passing of a vague state bill allegedly focused on public forums with invited speakers; while it would require the state’s institutions to remain “neutral” towards contemporaneously contested public policy issues, the unease arose due to uncertainty about the regulation of free speech on campuses, especially regarding scientific claims, if passed.

Sensitive Censorship: Pakistan’s government is taking a strong stance against negative social media, such as sentencing a citizen to death for a seemingly sacrilegious comment about the prophet Muhammad; Thailand is continuing to extend its censorship of negative commentary about the royal family by sentencing a man to 35 years in prison; China attempts to instill “socialist values” as it closed 60 gossip social media platform accounts for posting allegedly tasteless content.

Practical Note

Patent: Private or Public Property? The impending hearing of a case by the U.S. Supreme Court questions the America Invents Act’s constitutionality; the answer is dependent on the classification of patents as a public or private property right, and thus questions the constitutionality of the PTAB’s decisions; it appears that any answer suggesting private property rights or invalidating the PTAB will have reverberating effects on the world of patents.

Rushing a Right? The New York State Legislature proposed a bill that would significantly expand and make transferable the right to publicity, though First Amendment advocates see the bill as detrimental to the freedom of expression and call for more careful consideration of the scope and nature of the right.

On the Lighter Side

Communication-Free Courting: An interest-based dating app prohibits communication between potential suitors and utilizes common ideal date activities to match people, removing one of the uniquely human obstacles to setting up a date.

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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Elizabeth Martin
Fellow, Fordham CLIP

Yemi Danmola
Harrison Kay
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP