October 2008

The 11th Circuit has ruled on a somewhat obscure but interesting issue of federal jurisdiction in copyright cases.

The Declaratory Judgment Act allows one who has been threatened with a suit to file suit first, and ask for a “declaration” of non-liability. In other words, the declaratory judgment makes one who fears becoming a defendant the procedural plaintiff. The roles of “plaintiff” and “defendant” are reversed, but the underlying issue remains the same. Declaratory judgment is simply a way that a threatened party who is unwilling to live with the risk of a lawsuit at some uncertain point in the future can force the issue.

However, the Declaratory Judgment Act is procedural; it does not give rise to federal court jurisdiction. This can create a problem for the declaratory judgment plaintiff, as demonstrated in the 11th Circuit case.

Registration with the U.S. Copyright Office is a jurisdictional prerequisite to a copyright infringement suit – no registration, no jurisdiction.… Read the full article

Assume you’re interested in Jones Day v. Blockshopper, pending in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

Go to Justia.com and click on the link US District Courts’ civil case filings. You can search for the docket of any federal district court case to find the case in Justia. Justia follows the Jones Day case here. If you click on that link and scroll down you’ll see the docket entries for the case (the last entry is #52 as of my writing of this post). You can click on the items to see filings and court orders.

Click on the “RSS” feed link on the top right of the Justia page for this case.

Choose the RSS feed that you use. I use iGoogle.com, and once I click on the RSS feed I can select IGoogle. If you don’t have an RSS feed go to iGoogle.com and sign up.… Read the full article

The following is background that may be necessary for some readers to understand the issues raised in the Thompson v. Zotero lawsuit, discussed below.

The Mozilla Firefox web browser (the second-most popular web browser, after Microsoft Internet Explorer) allows anyone with the talent and interest to develop “add-ons”. An add-on is a computer functionality that is added to and integrated with the Firefox browser. The Firefox user downloads the add-on from the web, and the add-on is automatically “installed” by Firefox. The add-on can be used, disabled or deleted, at the user’s choice. What makes this possible is that Firefox is an open source web browser, allowing developers to fully integrate their software with the browser. Developers can register their add-ons with the Firefox web repository, where over 6,000 add-ons are available. The add-ons are rated and critiqued by users, creating a reliable marketplace based on reputation.

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer has add-onsin name, but it is a much more restricted, less open and less integrated technology, and therefore is far less robust than the Firefox add-ons.… Read the full article

Today, the Supreme Court agreed to decide this issue:

Whether an individual who used a false means of identification but did not know it belonged to another person can be convicted of “aggravated identity theft” under 18 U.S.C. 1028A(a)(1).

The case involves an illegal alien who was prosecuted for use of false identity papers. It must be hard enough to be arrested as an illegal alien, but much worse to discovery that your punishment will not be deportation, but rather indictment and trial for aggravated identity theft, a felony punishable with two years imprisonment with no probation allowed. Your defense: you may have purchased false identification in order to work, but you didn’t know that you were using another person’s social security number, as opposed to a purely fictitious SSN.

This is the situation that Ignacio Carlos Flores-Figueroa faced when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that the government was not required to prove that Mr.… Read the full article