CLIP-ings: February 9, 2018

Internet Governance

Take Down of Infraud: The U.S. Justice Department indicted 36 people from numerous countries including the United States, Ivory Coast, and Bangladesh for acting as administrators, moderators, and sellers of illegal hacking and fraud services on an online black market forum called Infraud; the indictment accuses the defendants of trading Social Security numbers and stolen credit card numbers, providing an escrow account members could use to launder their proceeds using digital currencies, and hosting services designed to enable other illegal online operations, thus causing more than $530 million in losses to companies and individuals.

Gig Workers’ Rights: After an independent review calling for clearer definitions of UK employment statuses, the UK government announced a new “Good Work Plan” to improve access to sick and holiday pay and stable contracts for “vulnerable workers,” which could include gig economy workers employed by internet-based applications; the reforms follow a number of legal challenges, including by a group of UK Uber drivers who proved they should be classified as “workers” in an employment tribunal court.


Deepfakes: Twitter and Reddit joined a growing list of platforms cracking down on so-called ‘deepfakes’ or computer-generated porn that digitally grafts the faces of celebrities onto the bodies of porn actors; however, elsewhere on Reddit, the technology used to make deepfakes continues to be employed for the less nefarious purpose of inserting Nicolas Cage into every movie ever.

Cloud Act Support: Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Oath Inc. declared support for bipartisan House and Senate versions of the “Cloud Act” to deal with cross-border data requests from law enforcement—even as the Supreme Court prepares to review the issue, which stems from a 2013 request by federal authorities for data held overseas by Microsoft and other companies; the Cloud Act would allow the U.S. to make agreements with foreign countries about data requests and permit technology companies to notify foreign governments of any requests and challenge them.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

Equifax on Ice: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau acting chief Mick Mulvaney reined in the bureau’s investigation of the Equifax breach—where hackers stole personal data from 143 million Americans; according to sources, Mulvaney has not ordered subpoenas against Equifax or sought sworn testimony from executives and has rebuffed bank regulators when they offered to help with on-site exams of how Equifax protects consumer data.

Russians Hacked U.S. Voter Systems: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported that the Russian government successfully accessed the voter registration rolls of several states prior to the 2016 presidential election, but did not alter any of the registration rolls; the electoral system is considered “critical infrastructure” and therefore under the jurisdiction of the DHS, but some states claim they are still waiting for cyber security help from the federal government while others are opposed to DHS involvement, viewing it as a federal intrusion.

Intellectual Property

Christian Louboutin Is Seeing Red: The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) may issue an opinion that could prove a setback to Christian Louboutin’s signature red soles; according to the recommendation of Advocate General Maciej Szpunar, a trademark combining color and shape may be refused and declared invalid on the grounds set out under E.U. trade mark law—this contrasts with a U.S. appeals court decision permitting Louboutin to protect his red soles as a source-identifying trademark.

Ok, Ladies, Now Let’s Get in Litigation: Kimberly Roberts, star of the Oscar-nominated Hurricane Katrina documentary “Trouble the Water,” filed a lawsuit against Beyoncé in New Orleans federal court this week, alleging the makers of Beyoncé’s ‘Formation’ music video used clips from the documentary without paying royalties and, in some instances, without permission; the suit comes on the heels of another federal ‘Formation’-related copyright dispute, which was dismissed on Monday following the parties’ submission of a joint stipulation for dismissal.

Free Expression and Censorship

Made Possible by Viewers Like You? PBS is pushing back against YouTube’s decision to specially label videos published by government-backed news outlets; under the new policy, videos by outlets like PBS will feature a flag that identifies their government association and links to, believe it or not, the publisher’s Wikipedia page.  

Practice Note

Court of Appeals on Patent Eligibility Analysis: The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled in Berkheimer v. HP Inc. that “while patent eligibility is ultimately a question of law,” a lower court erred by holding that “there are no underlying factual questions” in a 35 U.S.C. § 101 inquiry; the decision is in tension with the Court’s prior treatment of eligibility analysis, which generally permitted resolution of the issue on the pleadings as a pure question of law.

On The Lighter Side

Lonely Hearts Club: Valentine’s Day means many things to many people, but for the internet it means a spike in searches for “alone” GIFs.

Information Law News From CLIP-ings International Correspondents Around the Globe

This academic year, former CLIP-ings Editorial Fellows studying abroad are reporting from time-to-time on current local news and developments in the field of information law!

From Victoria Loeb – Paris, France:

GAFA Prepares for Stricter EU Tax Rules: After settling a French tax claim for nearly €200 million from 2006 to 2010, Amazon announced that it will begin declaring all its earnings in France; the announcement follows EU officials’ commitment to implement stricter tax rules, as the current regime allows companies whose earnings occur primarily in higher tax member states to declare them in lower-tax countries.

Contractual Termination or Censorship? A French court will hear arguments in a case where a French primary school teacher sued Facebook, Inc. for violating his freedom of speech in 2011 when the company removed his profile after he posted a photo of a nude painting in the Musée d’Orsay—a ruling is expected in the case on March 15; the case comes to court after years of wrangling over jurisdiction and venue where Facebook attempted to argue that the lawsuit could only be heard in California—currently, Facebook, Inc. claims that Facebook Ireland, the web host for service in France, is the correct party to bring to court over the deactivation.

From Meghna Prasad – Rome, Italy:

No Bracelets for You: Several Italian politicians denounced Amazon’s plan to patent an electronic wristband to track their workers’ movements to improve efficiency; Speaker of the House Laura Boldrini calls the proposed patent “degrading and offensive,” while Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda insists that “the only bracelets we make in Italy are the ones produced by jewelers.”

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

N. Cameron Russell
Executive Director, Fordham CLIP

Idalys Núñez
Dean’s Fellow, Fordham CLIP

Erin Shahinfar
Subrina Chowdhury
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP