CLIP-ings: August 31, 2018

Internet Governance

Defining Competitive Markets: The Eighth Circuit upheld the ruling of the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) that a business broadband market with one provider can be “competitive” if another provider is within a half-mile radius of the service area, which enables the FCC to remove price caps in monopolized regions; the court was deferential to the FCC in reasoning that the agency has the authority to “rationally choose which evidence to believe among conflicting evidence.”

FTC Asked to Investigate Verizon: Following Verizon’s recent data throttling of first responders who were battling wildfires in California, a group of senators have called on the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to investigate the controversy; the letter stated that the FCC has “abdicated its jurisdiction over broadband communications.”


Data Protection Complaints on the Rise: Since the GDPR went into effect three months ago, the number of data protection complaints has more than doubled; the Information Commissioner’s Office in the U.K. attributes the spike to greater privacy awareness and recent high-profile data scandals and expects the figures will continue to climb.

Inbox Scanning: Oath confirmed that humans and algorithms scan over 200 million Yahoo! users’ promotional emails to create data segments to sell to advertisers; the practice takes place as Yahoo! continues to compete with Gmail and face unfavorable public perception after a series of data breaches in recent years.

Information Security and Cyberthreats

PIN Vulnerability: Following the recent T-Mobile database breach, two security researchers uncovered flaws in third-party websites that allowed an interested party unlimited attempts at guessing T-Mobile and AT&T customers’ PIN numbers; Apple and Asurion have confirmed that all vulnerabilities have been addressed.

The Key to Two-Factor Authentication: Google’s internal security kit, which serves as a physical tool for two-factor authentication, was made available to the public yesterday and consists of one USB key and another that supports Bluetooth and NFC for mobile devices; Google reports there have been “no reported or confirmed account takeovers since implementing security keys at Google.”

Intellectual Property

IP Address Not Enough to Catch Pirate: The Ninth Circuit held that an internet protocol address used to illegally download copyrighted films, standing alone, is insufficient to state a direct copyright infringement claim against the registered subscriber of the IP address, affirming the dismissal of a copyright infringement lawsuit against an owner of an adult foster home where someone downloaded pirated copies of the movie “The Cobbler”; the contributory infringement claim similarly failed because the complaint contained no allegations that the registered subscriber encouraged or assisted the copyright infringement.

NAFTA Creates Copyright Confusion: After the Trump Administration reached a preliminary agreement with Mexico to revise NAFTA, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (“USTR”) created confusion by posting a fact sheet that indicates the copyright term would “extend” to 75 years; it remains unclear whether this means there will be an extension of the copyright term, which is currently the life of an author plus 70 years for most works owned by individuals – one official at the USTR told the Hollywood Reporter that the fact sheet did not extend the copyright term because it referred to “publication based” works with a 95 year term, while other officials told reporters that they mean to extend the copyright term to life plus 75 years.

Free Expression and Censorship

Gun Blueprints In The Mail: Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson began selling blueprints of 3-D printed firearms at a price determined by the customer, despite a federal judge’s court order requiring the State Department to continue blocking him from publishing his blueprints; Wilson believes his strategy to sell the blueprints by emailing them or mailing them on USB drives is permitted because the judge ruled that the blueprints “cannot be uploaded to the internet, but they can be emailed, mailed, securely transmitted, or otherwise published within the United States.”

Facebook Finally Bans Myanmar Leaders: After criticism for failing to remove the Myanmar army’s anti-Rohingya posts, Facebook acknowledged that it was slow to respond to the problem, pledged to hire more Burmese-speaking monitors, and banned Myanmar military officials and army chief from the platform for using Facebook to spread false information about the Rohingya and promote “hate and misinformation,” making it the first time Facebook banned a country’s military and political leaders.

Practice Note

Better Get It In Writing: A California judge granted Johnny Depp’s bid to dismiss a claim by his former attorneys and found that an oral agreement entitling Depp’s former attorneys to a percentage of Depp’s earnings was invalid, citing a statute that requires contingency fee agreements to be in writing; the ruling will likely change how attorneys and actors execute their agreements and may motivate other actors displeased with their counsel to seek similar legal claims.  

On The Lighter Side

A Look Into Unseen Amazon Tribe: Ever wonder what life is like for Amazon Tribes? Now you can find out. Using a drone, a Brazilian government agency filmed the first footage of an extremely isolated tribe in the Amazon. Still photos are available on the agency’s website and drone footage can be viewed on YouTube

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

Subrina Chowdhury
Tommine McCarthy
Editorial Fellows, Fordham CLIP