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New Technologies and Innovations in the Mobile and Online Space, and the Implications for Public Policy

The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet held an educational hearing on June 19, 2012 entitled "New Technologies and Innovations in the Mobile and Online Space, and the Implications for Public Policy." The hearing focused on privacy issues related to mobile, online, and geolocation technologies, as well as private sector efforts to safeguard consumer privacy and whether legislation to impose new regulations is warranted.

Witnesses included: 

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Data Protection Reform Legislation in the European Union

Earlier in 2012, the European Commission proposed a major reform of the European Union’s (EU) legal framework on the protection of personal data.  The new proposals are meant to strengthen individual rights and to address the challenges of globalization in light of emerging technologies.  The EU's Data Protection Directive is also developing specific rules for the transfer of personal data outside the EU to ensure the best possible protection of data when it is exported abroad.

Google's New Copyright Transparency Report

Recently, Google expanded its Transparency Report program by releasing a detailed report of content removal requests from copyright holders. This report joins its semi-annual government takedown transparency report, and covers more than 95% of the copyright takedown requests it has received for Search results since July 2011.

What is striking is the volume of takedown notices Google receives.  For example in May 2012, it processed over 1.5 million requests for Search alone - from 1,507 copyright owners and 1,217 reporting organizations. The vast majority of them are well below 1%. In other words, no one has complained about well over 99% of the pages on these sites.  For example for The Pirate Bay, Google received takedown notices for less than 5% of their indexed pages.

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Next Steps in the Georgia State Case

On May 31, 2012, the plaintiffs (i.e., Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and Sage Publications) in the Georgia State University (GSU) electronic reserves case, filed a proposed injunction that would prohibit GSU professors from making unauthorized copies that are not “narrowly tailored to accomplish the instructor’s educational objectives” and do not “constitute the ‘heart of the work’ ” from which they are excerpted.  In addition, the publishers have asked Judge Orinda Evans to mandate that GSU’s revised policy on e-reserves require professors to “investigate the availability of digital permissions before it may determine that a proposed use of an excerpt of a work is protected by the fair use doctrine.” (See the EDUCAUSE

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The Authors Guild v. Google: The Case Goes On

In the latest development in the long-running case over Google’s book-scanning, the federal judge in the case ruled on May 31, 2012 that groups representing authors and photographers could go forward with a class action.

The ruling is a setback for Google, which had asked the judge to remove the Authors Guild and a photographers’ group from the lawsuit. Google had also argued that a class action was not appropriate because many authors were in favor of having their works appear in the company’s search results.

The judge’s ruling means that the groundwork is laid for a trial on whether Google’s decision to scan millions of books amounted to fair use.

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MIT Establishes Research Center to Address the Opportunities and Challenges of Big Data

The Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT announced on May 30, 2012 a major research initiative called bigdata@CSAIL to tackle the challenges of the “big data” -- data collections that are too big, growing too fast, or are too complex for existing information technology systems to handle.  According to the announcement, big data requires a “new generation of technologies to store, manage, analyze, share, and understand the huge quantities of data we are now capable of collecting.”

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Internet Privacy Legislation: What the White House, Federal Trade Commission, and the European Commission Are Recommending

On May 14, 2012, the Congressional Internet Caucus Advisory Committee sponsored the discussion, “New Internet Privacy Legislation: What the White House, Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission are Recommending.”   

Oversight of the Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator

On Wednesday, May 9, 2012, the Senate Judiciary Committee held its third oversight hearing to discuss intellectual property enforcement since the establishment of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator.   The witness before the committee was Victoria A. Espinel, Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator.   One of the primary roles of this position is to coordinate the work being done across government agencies, including the Department of Justice, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Trade Representative, to combat intellectual property theft.

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Access to, Sharing, and Retention of Research Data: What Do Campuses Need to Do?

Data that are generated by research and other scholarly activities are the lifeblood of the research enterprise.  These research investigators and their institutions have responsibilities and obligations regarding access to and retention of these research data. Recognizing the importance of these research data as a valuable resource that needs to be managed properly is key to maximizing the return on the research investment.

Orphan Works and the Possibilities for Expanding the Scope of Research and Education

The topic of orphan works and what to do about them keeps surfacing for discussion in higher education circles.  Why?  Digital libraries containing millions of orphan, out-of-print, and public domain works would vastly expand the scope of research and education.  They would also open up many opportunities for discovery and new knowledge.  Digital copies of such volumes would not only increase access to the works themselves, but would also make academic research available to larger audiences and would go against the tradition of more restricted, and often expensive, access to scholarly work.  Pamela Samuelson, in a Los Angeles Times op-ed, wrote:

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