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MobiTV, HowardForums avoid legal skirmish
Top Legal News | 2008/03/09 16:32

Mobile broadcast service provider MobiTV appears to be softening its stance against mobile community resource community HowardForums after hitting the site with a cease-and-desist letter last week. HowardForums earned MobiTV's wrath after posting a web address purportedly enabling end-around access to premium MobiTV content, promising readers free access to all of the firm's streaming mobile TV channels via mobile device or PC. The URL, posted by a HowardForums member, was originally discovered on a Sprint forum and reportedly has been circulating on the web for several months. MobiTV threatened HowardForums with legal action if the site did not remove the URL and related links by 5 p.m. PST Friday, alleging the post constitutes "a violation and infringement of MobiTV's intellectual property rights, including, without limitation, its copyright, trademark, and trade secret rights."

But in a statement issued late Friday, MobiTV said it would attempt to solve the problem via technological means instead of legal recourse, stating it was "actively implementing additional security measures to address this unauthorized access as well as the isolated issue of certain content feeds posted on HowardForums.com and on other websites. It is our responsibility to ensure that our service and the programming entrusted to us by our content providers is protected at all times." MobiTV added it would not attempt to interrupt or shut down HowardForums. While MobiTV maintains the URL was not publicly available, and procured only through hacking or debugging, HowardForums proprietor Howard Chui told OnlineMediaDaily that is untrue: "No hacking was involved," he said. "MobiTV could've added access control and people wouldn't be able to view it anymore. When I want to protect something online I put a password on it or encrypt it."



Judge KOs Challenge to Internet Bet Law
Top Legal News | 2008/03/07 17:00
A federal judge has dismissed a challenge to a ban on Internet gambling brought by an online gambling association, but gave the group legal standing to challenge the law in an appellate court.

U.S. District Judge Mary L. Cooper in Trenton determined that the Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association had not shown sufficient cause to order her to block enforcement of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, passed by Congress in 2006.

That law was designed to stop online gambling by choking off the electronic processing of money for online wagers or payouts.

The industry group had argued that the law was unconstitutional on many fronts, including freedom of speech and invasion of privacy concerns. It wanted the court to declare that people should be allowed to gamble from the privacy of their own homes.



Bush: 'US Must Not Let Down Its Guard'
Top Legal News | 2008/03/07 09:00
President Bush said Thursday that while it's been more than six years since the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States must not become complacent about terrorism.

In a speech marking the fifth anniversary of the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, Bush said U.S. officials have helped foil numerous planned attacks, including a plot to fly an airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast and another to blow up trans-Atlantic passenger jets.

"The enemy remains active — deadly in its intent — and in the face of this danger, the United States must never let down its guard," Bush said.

Bush continued to pressure the House to act on Senate-passed legislation needed to renew an intelligence law that governs how the government can eavesdrop on suspected terrorists. The law expired Feb. 16 and the House and Senate have yet to reconcile different versions of a new intelligence bill.



Judge Wants to Resolve Indian Lands Case
Top Legal News | 2008/03/06 17:59
A federal judge says he wants to resolve a 12-year lawsuit over government mismanagement of Indian lands this June.

In a decision last month, U.S. District Judge James Robertson said government accounting for billions of dollars owed to Indian landholders has been "unreasonably delayed" and is ultimately impossible.

At the same time, Robertson said the task is not hopeless, and he asked lawyers for both sides to lay out their cases again at a status hearing on Wednesday.

The June trial "is meant to bring this matter to a conclusion," Robertson said.

The suit, first filed in 1996 by Blackfeet Indian Elouise Cobell, claims the government has mismanaged more than $100 billion in royalties held in trust from Indian lands dating back to 1887.



Swiss Bank Drops Wikileaks Lawsuit
Top Legal News | 2008/03/05 18:02
A Swiss bank quietly dropped its lawsuit against renegade Web site Wikileaks.org on Wednesday, days after a judge reversed his order to disable the site for posting confidential bank documents.

In court papers, Bank Julius Baer didn't give a reason for dropping the suit and reserved the right to refile it later. Bank lawyer William Briggs didn't return a telephone call seeking comment.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ordered the Web site shut down after Bank Julius Baer sued Wikileaks and the San Mateo company Dynadot. The bank argued it was trying to halt "the unlawful dissemination of stolen bank records and personal account information of its customers."

Dynadot, which provided the site's U.S. domain name, agreed to disable Wikileaks in exchange for the bank removing it from the lawsuit.

The judge's order, however, backfired for Bank Julius Baer because it only led to bank's information being spread further across the Internet. Several other Web sites posted the same material out of solidarity with Wikileaks, and Wikileaks posted the documents on "mirror" Web sites it owns outside the U.S.

After enduring criticism from free speech advocates and media organizations, including The Associated Press, White reversed himself on Friday and ruled the Web site could reopen and continue to post the documents until the lawsuit was resolved.

Wikileaks, which bills itself as an activist organization that urges the posting of leaked government and corporate documents to expose corruption, wasn't represented at that hearing. White, however, said he agreed with the dozen lawyers representing the critics that his initial ruling probably violated free speech laws.

The Wikileaks site claims to have posted 1.2 million leaked government and corporate documents that it says expose unethical behavior, including a 2003 operation manual for the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.



Judge Wants Shipwreck Evidence Worked On
Top Legal News | 2008/03/05 12:18
A judge wants Florida shipwreck explorers and the Spanish government to settle their differences over sharing evidence related to an estimated $500 million in treasure the company recovered last year.

In Tampa, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Pizzo told lawyers for Odyssey Marine Exploration and Spain to agree by Friday _ or he will be forced to intervene.

Spain believes it has a claim to the 17 tons of colonial-era coins Odyssey raised from an Atlantic Ocean shipwreck. But Odyssey has kept most details of the find secret to protect the site from competitors.

The two sides bickered in a hearing Wednesday over whether Tampa-based Odyssey has handed over sufficient information about the wreck site and treasure for Spain to determine the extent of a possible claim.



Lawsuit Dropped in Pain Doctor Case
Top Legal News | 2008/03/04 22:21
A patient-advocacy group is dropping its lawsuit over the prosecution of a doctor accused of running a "pill mill" linked to 56 overdose deaths, just days after a stinging rebuke from a federal judge.

The Pain Relief Network had attempted to intervene to keep Dr. Stephen Schneider's clinic open. It claimed the clinic's 1,000 patients have been unable to find adequate care since Schneider's license was suspended in January.

But a judge refused Friday to grant a request by the advocacy group for a temporary restraining order preventing the Justice Department from taking action against Schneider's clinic.

On Tuesday, the group filed a voluntary motion for dismissal without prejudice of its civil lawsuit against the Department of Justice and the state of Kansas.

If U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown agrees to dismiss the action without prejudice, it could be refiled later.

The Pain Relief Network said in its motion it was seeking the dismissal "after reviewing the current posture of the case."

Schneider, who is jailed without bond, faces 34 federal charges, including four counts of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance resulting in death. He has vehemently proclaimed his innocence.

The Pain Relief Network filed the civil suit on behalf of Schneider's patients.

At the earlier hearing, Brown told a room crowded with about 40 of Schneider's patients, some of them on crutches, that if they needed care they should go to the emergency room, not the court.

In its lawsuit, the Pain Relief Network challenged the constitutionality of the Controlled Substances Act, arguing that it allows the federal government to improperly intrude in the physician-patient relationship.



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