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Federal Jury Hands Down First Conviction Under the DMCA in DirecTV Case

In U.S.A. v. Thomas Michael Whitehead, Case No. 2:03CR53 (C.D.C.A. Sept. 19, 2003), the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California alleged that Whitehead purchased software code needed for reprogramming DirecTV access cards, paid a coconspirator to periodically update the code to circumvent current DirecTV security measures, and then used the code to reprogram DirecTV access cards, which he sold nationwide. In addition to charging Whitehead with conspiracy, and sale of devices to illegally decrypt satellite programming under 47 U.S.C. Section 605(e)(4), the U.S.

Federal Court Dismisses Hyperphrase Patent Infringement Case Against Microsoft

Hyperphrase Technologies sued Microsoft for patent infringement of three of Hyperphrase’s patents relating to storage and retreival of information in computer systems. The first patent is for automatically storing and retreiving data records in computer systems. The other two are for improvements of the method disclosed in the first patent, such as resolving ambiguity in recognized terms, using a variety of techniques. One of the features of Microsoft Office XP is called Smart Tags.

Refusal to Establish Hyperlink May Violate First Amendment Rights

Geoffrey Davidian publishes The Putnam Pit, a tabloid and website that monitors corruption in Cookeville, Tennessee. Davidian lives in California but developed an interest in Cookeville after learning of an unsolved murder in the Cookeville area. After years of interacting with city officials, Davidian requested a hyperlink from the city’s website to his online newspaper. In response, the city created and modified a policy on establishing links, finally denying Davidian’s request. Additionally, the city refused Davidian’s request for electronic copies of city parking tickets.

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