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Ex-girlfriend’s Phony Facebook Page Tests NJ Identity... Yesterday New Jersey Superior Court Judge David Ironson refused to dismiss an indictment charging a woman with identity theft for allegedly adversely impersonating her ex-boyfriend...

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The Center for Democracy and Technology Defends Mobile... Last week the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) made a public appeal to gain support for their campaign to reform the Electronic Communications Privacy Act’s (ECPA)...

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Canadian Supreme Court Protects Free Speech on the... This month the Supreme Court of Canada issued a ruling that protects Website owners who provide hyperlinks to allegedly defamatory content from liability. The facts of the...

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NJ State Senator Will Introduce Online Gambling Legislation... In March Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill that would have made New Jersey the first state in the country to allow online gambling within its borders. He vetoed the law...

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Federal Shield Law in the Senate Currently, 40 states and the District of Columbia have shield laws. Shield laws are important because they safeguard the public's right to know by protecting the rights of...

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Social Media Law News Rss

Broadband Regulation Breakdown

Posted on : 10-09-2010 | By : Julie Gottlieb | In : Buzz, Government

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Last week Federal Communications Commission Chief of Staff Edward Lazarus announced that broadband regulation talks between Verizon, AT&T, Google, Skype and the Open Internet Coalition have been terminated. Although negotiators found a number of points of agreement they ultimately failed to reach a final consensus. Consequently, broadband delivery policy and the way consumers will access the Internet in the future remains an enigma.

According to Sam Gustin, author of Google, Verizon and the FCC: Inside the War Over the Internet’s Future, at stake is, “No less than the future of the Internet, with wide-ranging ramifications for the delivery of broadband content and services to the home — not to mention hospitals, banks and mobile devices.”

Currently, the Internet operates under the principle of net neutrality. All Internet users have equal access to information on the Internet. Without net neutrality, the Internet would function more like cable television’s tiered system which imposes higher costs for premium levels of service. For example Verizon, one of the nation’s leading Internet service providers, could charge a fee to companies like YouTube, owned by Google, to ensure that its content received priority. This would eventually lead to higher charges for Internet users. In addition, net neutrality advocates argue start-ups, like Google and Twitter once were, could never compete, thereby stifling Internet innovation.

Even President Obama declared his strong support for net neutrality, during a speech in November 2007 at Google’s Mountain View headquarters. As a presidential candidate, then-Senator Barack Obama pledged, “I will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality … [O]nce providers start to privilege some applications or websites over others, then the smaller voices get squeezed out, and we all lose. The Internet is perhaps the most open network in history, and we have to keep it that way.”

Although, Verizon and Google are adversaries when it comes to net neutrality, they got together after a federal judge ruled that the FCC lacked the authority to enforce net neutrality. While they were able to come to some preliminary compromises and news of a Google-Verizon proposal emerged last month, talks eventually broke down. That proposal ensured net neutrality on wired networks, but did not require net neutrality on wireless networks. Their proposal also created a category called “managed services,” under which companies could pay for a nonpublic, superfast network to deliver prioritized content. There were many points of contention in the Google-Verizon proposal; however, the third component is the most troubling and is likely the reason for the ultimate breakdown.

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Teachers’ Union Claims School District Social Media Policy Violates First Amendment

Posted on : 05-09-2010 | By : Julie Gottlieb | In : Buzz, Education, Online Speech, Social Media Policies

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This week Marie Locklin Bodi, a Santa Rosa teacher and member of Santa Rosa Professional Educators (SRPE) threatened to file suit against her school district claiming that its new social networking policy infringes on her First Amendment rights. Additionally, SRPE is considering filing a second Unfair Labor Practice lawsuit claiming the School District’s new social media policy is overly restrictive.

The new nine-page policy, which was added to the Acceptable Use Policy, outlines how employees should use digital communications at work and when working in their official capacities from home. According to Carmen Paige’s article, Teachers File Suit Over Social Media Policy, “It covers e-mail, Facebook and similar websites, Twitter, blogs, personal websites, text messages, instant messages, chat rooms, list serves, podcasts, cell phones and Blackberrys.” It is important to note that sites such as Facebook and Myspace cannot be accessed on the School District’s Internet browsers.

Employees have been asked to sign the policy by Sept. 3. Although Bodi agrees with some parts of the policy, she has concerns and does not plan to sign the document. Paige quotes Bodi: “When you sign the form, it says the district has the right to put your name, picture and employment on the Internet, and you have no discretion on how it is used.” Emerson told the Santa Rosa Press Gazette this is not true. According to Matthew Pellegino’s article, SRPE, Teacher ‘De-Friending’ District Media Policy, “Emerson also stated if a teacher does not feel comfortable with having their information on the school’s website, it can be taken down.”

SRPE president Rhonda Chavers says that Bodi could be terminated if she does not sign the policy. Again Emerson says this is not true. While an employee may be suspended or terminated if they do not sign the Acceptable Use Policy, there is no disciplinary action for not signing the social media policy. Rather, the signature just acknowledges the employee has read the social media section of the Acceptable Use Policy and they understand it. However, Emerson admits that the District will record the names of those that did not sign. Additionally, according to Paige’s article, “Those who do not sign it will be denied access to the district’s network.” Emerson has agreed to sit down with Bodi and Chavers to try and avoid a lawsuit. It is likely that this is one of many similar lawsuits to come.

To learn more about social media polices please read my other articles:

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Facebook Trademark Troubles

Posted on : 01-09-2010 | By : Julie Gottlieb | In : Buzz

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Although the name “Facebook” enjoys trademark protection, the company is aggressively maintaining that they own the rights to the words “face” and “book” as well. Earlier this month the travel site, PlaceBook, changed its name to TripTrace to avoid an expensive lawsuit they could not afford. The company even published a blog acknowledging that, “as a start-up we were in no position to fight. So we changed our name.”

Then Facebook filed suit against Teachbook.com, an online community for teachers, for “misappropriating the distinctive BOOK portion of Facebook’s trademark.” Although it is unlikely that people will confuse Teachbook with Facebook, Facebook argues that the use of the word “book” dilutes Facebook’s brand name and impairs their ability to remain unique. In the complaint Facebook asserts, “If others could freely use ‘generic plus BOOK’ marks for online networking services targeted to that particular generic category of individuals, the suffix BOOK could become a generic term for ‘online community/networking services’ or ‘social networking services.’ That would dilute the distinctiveness of the Facebook mark, impairing its ability to function as unique and distinctive identifiers of Facebook’s goods and services.”

If this case ever makes it to court, Facebook may have a hard time proving its case because “book” is a common word and because Teachbook is not a direct competitor. Realistically, it is unlikely that this case will ever see the inside of a court room as Teachbook does not have the substantial financial recourses available to Facebook.  It is more likely that Teachbook will follow in the footsteps of Placebook and change its name. According to Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, in the article, Facebook Sues To Bar the Use of ‘Book’ in Site’s Name,It’s important to Facebook that people get the sense that it’s very dangerous to infringe on Facebook’s name. This lawsuit scares other companies from going down the same path.” This is further evidenced by Facebook’s request to the court to declare Teachbook’s trademark void and ban the site from using the name.

It is not just the word “book” that Facebook is trying to claim a right to. Currently, Facebook is trying to trademark the word “face.” But a familiar rival is objecting. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard classmate, who claimed to help create Facebook, and later settled the claim, Aaron Greenspan now owns Think Computer, which is behind the mobile payments application FaceCash. Erick Schonfeld’s quotes Greenspan in his article Guess Who Is Trying To Trademark The Word “Face”? (And Guess Who Is Trying To Stop It?), “The possible registration has implications for my company (not to mention hundreds of others, including Apple, Inc. [which owns the trademark to “Facetime,” the video calling feature on the iPhone 4.]), so I’ve decided to ask the USPTO for an extension of time to oppose it.”  Although Greenspan says he hasn’t decided whether he will file a formal opposition, he has filed two extensions that give him until September 22 to formally oppose Facebook’s “face” trademark application. The original deadline was June 23. However, taking into account Greenspan’s history of vigorously defending his trademarks, it is not likely that he will back down. As these are common and generic words that Facebook only uses in combination with each other, it  is not likely that Facebook will be awarded the rights to “book,” or “face.”

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