Last week, the First Circuit heard oral argument in Rideout v. Gardner. The case concerns the constitutionality of a New Hampshire statute — N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 659:35 (as amended in 2014) — which prohibits voters from sharing photos of their marked ballots on social media. Specifically, the statute bars (among other things) “taking a digital image or photograph of [one’s] marked ballot and distributing or sharing the image via social media.” It has become known as New Hampshire’s “ballot selfie” law.
We are excited to report that the Access to Justice Lab has gone live at Harvard Law School. HLS Professor Jim Greiner, who serves as Faculty Director of the Lab, is a pioneer in the use of rigorous research methodologies to evaluate of outcomes for those with legal needs. The Lab will carry on that work — developing evidence-based approaches to help courts and legal services providers understand what works in improving access to justice.
As often happens during the heat of the New England summer, we on the Cyberlaw Clinic team find ourselves thinking about the past academic year and looking ahead to the next. It is a great time to pause and reflect on the work of our students and the overall state of our program, which has now served the HLS student body and the broader technology law and policy community for more than sixteen years. This post serves as something of an “academic year in review” for the 2015-16 school year and a preview of things to come.
The Cyberlaw Clinic supported Public Citizen and the Electronic Frontier Foundation in filing an amicus brief (pdf) today in the case, Small Justice LLC v. Xcentric Ventures LLC, Case No. 15-1506, pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The case raises important questions about the interplay between copyright law and laws protecting free expression, including the immunity granted to platforms that host content uploaded by users pursuant to Section 230(c) of the Communications Decency Act. Paul Levy of Public Citizen and Kit Walsh of EFF wrote detailed posts about the brief.
Rebecca Tushnet wrote a nice summary of the decision of the United States District for the District of Massachusetts in Shire City Herbals, Inc. v. Blue, Case No. 3:15-cv-30069-MGM (D. Mass. May 12, 2016). No need to restate the facts or the holding, but I wanted to pile on with some local context and a quick acknowledgment that this seems like an important decision for proponents of Anti-SLAPP protections for speakers in the Commonwealth.
The Cyberlaw Clinic and attorney Mahesha Subbaraman of Subbaraman PLLC submitted an amicus brief to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit this week on behalf of civil liberties advocacy organization, Restore the Fourth, in the case, Rodriguez v. Swartz. As set out in more detail in the brief and summarized in a statement by Restore the Fourth, the case concerns the 2012 shooting of a Mexican teenager by United States Border Patrol agent Lonnie Swartz. The victim — 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez — was in Nogales, Mexico; the agent fired shots from the U.S. side of the border, through a border fence, killing Rodriguez as he walked home following a basketball game.
The Cyberlaw Clinic filed an amicus brief today (PDF) at the United States Court of a Appeals for the First Circuit, on behalf of the New England First Amendment Coalition and the Keene Sentinel. The case, Rideout v. Gardner, concerns a law passed by the State of New Hampshire to prevent “ballot selfies” – photos of completed ballots that are posted on social media. The brief argues that the law is unconstitutional under the First Amendment, as it prohibits a variety of speech important to monitoring the government, educating voters and engaging in political debate.
On April 1st, the Copyright Office closed the initial comment period for a public study undertaken to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) safe harbor provisions, embodied in Section 512 of the United States Copyright Act. On April 7th, the filed comments were released online.
HLS clinical registration for the 2016-17 academic year is just around the corner. We in the Cyberlaw Clinic often field questions this time of year from HLS students thinking about enrolling in the Clinic, trying to determine how we operate and whether the Clinic would be a good fit. To help guide students in their decision-making, we have assembled answers to some of the most commonly-asked questions:
The Cyberlaw Clinic has filed a comment (PDF) before the Copyright Office as part of the office’s Section 1201 Study, which looks into copyright’s anticircumvention law, embodied in Section 1201 of the United States Copyright Act. Anticircumvention law prohibits bypassing or evading “technical protection measures” on copyrighted works — such as CSS encryption on DVDs or digital locks present on many eBooks — even if one’s use of the underlying work otherwise does not infringe copyright. As required in the statute, the Copyright Office holds hearings every three years to consider requests for temporary exemptions when the law works to prohibit noninfringing uses of others’ works. The Clinic’s comment in the 1201 proceeding addresses deficiencies present in the Office’s approach to this triennial rulemaking, and recommends a set of solutions.