Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
Feb. 19, 2001, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 126.
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Special 301
2/16. The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) and the Business Software Alliance (BSA) submitted their annual recommendations [PDF] to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Zoellick regarding placement of foreign countries on the Special 301 list. Section 301 is the statutory means by which the U.S. asserts its international trade rights, including its rights under WTO Agreements. In particular, under the "Special 301" provisions of the Trade Act of 1974, the USTR identifies trading partners that deny adequate and effective protection of intellectual property or deny fair and equitable market access to U.S. artists and industries that rely upon intellectual property protection. The report recommends Italy for the Watch List, and the Philippines for the Priority Watch List. See, BSA release. See also, Estimated Trade Losses due to Piracy [PDF] by country.
Access to Information
2/16. The U.S. Court of Appeals (5thCir) issued its opinion in City of Huntsville v. The Huntsville Item, a case regarding public access to government information. A local newspaper moved to intervene in an action in U.S. District Court to which the City of Huntsville, Texas, was a party. A Texas state statute provides that settlement agreements to which a governmental body is a party is public information. Upon a joint motion by the parties the District Court issued a confidentiality order limiting public access to the settlement documents in the case. The Court made no findings or explanation. The Huntsville Item moved to intervene and to set aside the secrecy order. The District Court denied the motion. The Court of Appeals reversed the denial of the motion to intervene, and vacated the confidentiality order. Judge Kennedy wrote that "While Texas law is not directly binding on a federal court's ability to issue orders, the Fifth Circuit has clearly held that, at a minimum, the district court was obliged to consider the effect of its order on state law." Judges DeMoss and Jones joined.
New Documents
USCA: opinion in Eldred v. Reno, re extent of Congressional authority to enact copyright laws, 2/16 (HTML, TLJ).
CM: complaint against IBM re the Nazi holocaust, 2/16 (PDF, CM).
Milberg: complaint against Nortel, 2/16 (PDF, Milberg).
USCA: opinion in Huntsville v. Huntsville Item re access to public records, 2/16 (HMTL, USCA).
Updated Sections
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Recently Introduced Bills (updated weekly).
Quote of the Day
"Suffice it to say we reject their first amendment objection to the CTEA because the plaintiffs lack any cognizable first amendment right to exploit the copyrighted works of others.  . . .  Whatever wisdom or folly the plaintiffs may see in the particular "limited Times" for which the Congress has set the duration of copyrights, that decision is subject to judicial review only for rationality."

Judge Douglas Ginsburg, from his majority opinion in Eldred v. Reno, upholding the constitutionality Copyright Term Extension Act, Feb. 16.
Eldred v. Reno
2/16. The U.S. Court of Appeals (DCCir) issued its opinion in Eldred v. Reno, a case regarding the extent of Congressional authority to enact copyright laws. The 105th Congress passed the Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) to extend the maximum duration of copyrights from 75 to 95 years. The plaintiff is Eric Eldred, the proprietor of the unincorporated Eldritch Press, a website that republishes the works of others that are not protected by copyright. He is represented by a group of activist law professors -- Charles Nesson, Lawrence Lessig, and Jonathan Zittrain -- who disagree with certain Internet related intellectual property policies that have recently been enacted into law. They argue, among other things, that the CTEA is unconstitutional under the First Amendment and the Copyright Clause. The District Court upheld the CTEA, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.  Ginsburg wrote the opinion, in which Henderson joined. Sentelle dissented. See also, TLJ case summary.
More News
2/16. The FCC's WRC-03 Advisory Committee held its second meeting. The purpose of the meeting was to continue preparations for the 2003 World Radiocommunication Conference. The Committee released a schedule of meetings [PDF] of its informal working groups for February and March.
2/17. The ICANN published in its web site a document titled Report from the DNSO Review Task Force -- DNSO Review Report Version 3.0.
Computer Crime
2/16. The U.S. Attorneys Office (SDNY) unsealed a criminal complaint against Elias and Alejandro Garay charging wire fraud for conducting a series of fraudulent Internet auctions via eBay, Yahoo, and Amazon. Defendants defrauded bidders of about  $113,982 by auctioning Playstation2 video consoles, collecting the winners' money, but not delivering the Playstation2s. Defendants were also arrested on Feb. 16. See, DOJ release.
2/15. Babatunde Osiname pled guilty in U.S. District Court (CDCal) to mail fraud and wire fraud in connection with identity theft and stealing money out of the E*Trade accounts of Ericsson employees. He obtained personal information about Ericsson employees from a former Ericsson payroll department employee, Jeanette Franklin. $1.5 million and that Osiname stole the identities of more than 100 victims, and stole over $1.5 Million. Following complaints from Ericsson employees, the Secret Service and United States Postal Inspection Service investigators uncovered the fraud through an examination of cell phone records. Franklin, who is charged in a 16 count indictment with mail fraud and wire fraud, has not pled guilty. Her trial is scheduled to begin on Feb. 27 before Judge Virginia Phillips. Osiname is scheduled to be sentenced on April 30. See, USAO release.
2/15. A grand jury of the U.S. District Court (NDIll) indicted nine individuals for copyright infringement under the No Electronic Theft Act and/or conspiracy in connection with an Internet software piracy ring. The group, which called itself "Fastlane," copied and distributed software over the Internet, including Microsoft Office 2000, Microsoft Windows Millennium, Adobe Framemaker v6.0, Corel Custom Photo SE, Symantec PCAnywhere and McAfee VirusScan, with a retail value in excess of $1 Million. In an effort to evade detection and prosecution, the group limited access to its web sites to authorized users entering through known Internet Protocol (IP) addresses with pre-established IDs and passwords; concealed their identities with screen names; and used port bouncers to disguise the true IP addresses of their computers and the computers that hosted their web sites. However, an FBI agent infiltrated the group. Also, on Sept. 20, 2000, the FBI executed search warrants and seized Fastlane computers. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Hayes is prosecuting the case. See, DOJ release.
1/15. The U.S. District Court (DRI) sentenced Thomas Kennedy 14 months in prison for illegally selling electronic cards that unscramble satellite TV signals. Kennedy is one of 15 defendants who were caught in an Internet sting operation run by the U.S. Customs Service. See, DOJ release.
Class Action Suits
2/16. An Erza Birnbaum filed a complaint [PDF] in U.S. District Court (EDNY) against Nortel Networks and three of its officers and directors alleging violation of U.S. securities laws. The plaintiff, who is represented by the law firm of Milberg Weiss, seeks class action status. Count I alleges violation of  10b of the Exchange Act, and Rule 10b-5 thereunder, by all defendants. Count II alleges violation of  20 of the Exchange Act by the individual defendants. Nortel Networks is a Canadian corporation based in Brampton, Ontario, that provides telecommunications and Internet services. Milberg Weiss is a San Diego based law firm that specializes in bringing class action securities suits against high tech companies when their stock prices drop. Nortel stock, which traded at over $80 per share last summer, closed at $20 on Friday, Feb. 16. Milberg Weiss has also recently sued AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Covad, and PSINet.
2/16. A Thomas Grossman, and others, filed a complaint [PDF] in U.S. District Court (EDNY) against IBM alleging violation of international law, and unjust enrichment, in connection with allegations that IBM's German subsidiary provided punch card services to Nazis to perpetrate the holocaust. The Plaintiffs, who are represented by the law firm of Cohen Milstein, and other firms, seek class action status. Count I alleges violation of several international treaties. Count II alleges unjust enrichment. The complaint names as the sole defendant IBM Corporation. It does not name IBM's German subsidiary. IBM stated in a release that "It has been known for decades that the Nazis used Hollerith equipment and that IBM's German subsidiary during the 1930s -- Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen GmbH (Dehomag) -- supplied Hollerith equipment." The complaint alleges that "No statute of limitations has yet begun to run on plaintiffs' causes of action because plaintiffs and members of the class and the general public have been kept in ignorance of information essential to the pursuit of these claims ..." Cohen Milstein is a law firm that specializes in bringing class action lawsuits.
2/14. Several class action law firms have filed complaints in U.S. District Court seeking class action status against U.S. Interactive. See, for example, Berger & Montague release.
WorldCom Intermedia
2/15. WorldCom, Intermedia, and Digex announced a proposed settlement of a lawsuit brought by minority shareholders of Digex arising out of WorldCom's planned acquisition of a controlling interest in Digex through a merger with Intermedia. The merger has been approved by the Antitrust Division. The proposed settlement has yet to be approved by the Delaware Chancery Court. See, Worldcom release.
Today
Presidents' Day. The House of Representatives and Senate are in recess for the Presidents' Day District Work Period.
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