Cyber Lawyer Blog - Internet and Cyber Security Law Blog of Domingo J. Rivera, Esq., Internet and Cyber Security Lawyer
Cyber Lawyer Blog - Internet and Cybersecurity Law

Cybersecurity: Stuck Between Advanced Hackers, Government Regulators, and Liability

Cyber attacks occur every second of every day. The frequency and sophistication of the attacks
continues to rise. With the increased sophistication and the proliferation of corporate espionage and nation-state actors, the days of curious teen hackers trying to prove their worth are behind us. Now the threat is bigger and better financed, the stakes are higher, and government intervention changes the landscape. Cybersecurity is now a top priority for businesses and government.

We start with a brief summary of some of the recent major cyber attacks. This list is purposely kept short as to show only the more “elite” type of attacks that are shaping the new cyber landscape. Given their level of sophistication, these attacks frequently require in-depth analysis by computer forensics experts. Here, we are focusing on the legal aspects only.

Timeline of Advanced Cyber Attacks

Advanced Cyber Attacks of 2010: One Word: STUXNET

Stuxnet makes clear that cyber attacks have escalated to new heights. The Stuxnet worm damaged Iranian uranium enrichment centrifuges. Stuxnet temporarily knocked out some of the
centrifuges at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility. This caused a delay to Iran’s uranium enrichment program. This attack was very effective and stealthy, giving birth to the new cyber warfare.

Advanced Attacks of 2011

China: Its “Comment Group” penetrated the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant operated by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. The breach was reportedly facilitated through a breach of a senior nuclear planner’s computer. There is no indication of intent to damage the target. Reconnaissance is ... << MORE >>

Anonymous Internet Cowards and Public Interest Law Firms

In our efforts to identify the authors of defamatory contents targeting our clients, we utilize many methods. Sometimes we issue subpoenas, but that is not all we do. Our Internet law firm stands out for our use of technology to assist our clients, methods that, in my experience, most lawyers don't even understand.  Will the evidence be admissible?  I submit to you that it does not really matter. Once the target is identified, if litigation results our client will be entitled to issue discovery, which will need to be answered under oath. If the target lies, we will have enough to impeach this person in front of a jury. As a technology guy, I find this more effective (and absolutely less boring) than writing sleep-inducing legal briefs.  By the time these briefs are filed, we have often identified the author through technology.

Now, some people who get these subpoenas are faced with a choice, fight the subpoena or try to work it out. So, they seek advice from "Uncle Google", where they may find some of the aforementioned briefs filed by certain "public interest" law firms contesting the subpoenas. Due to my results-oriented approach and lack of interest in useless debate, I have refrained from posting what happened in these cases. Rest assured, we got what we wanted and the subpoenas were moot as unnecessary. Lesson learned: to the extent permitted by law, we will use technology to stay ahead of dinosaur law firms. This is ...
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Copyright Law: Pornographers Following RIAA's Shakedown Tactics

At this Internet law firm, we are no strangers to copyright litigation. From whether website reviews are copyrightable to defending individuals caught in the RIAA's use of the Department of Justice to do RIAA's litigation in the form of criminal copyright infringement prosecutions.  Now the pornographers are here and they are taking a page out of the RIAA's playbook. It appears that the pornographers' strategy is to file lawsuits against unidentified parties, issue subpoenas and follow up with threatening letters to the identified individuals demanding payment of a few thousand dollars. These individuals are accused of utilizing bit torrent software to infringe on the copyrights. Multiply the $2k to $3k requested from each identified "John Doe" times a few hundred defendants in several jurisdictions and the pornographers can feasibly make more money through lawsuits than through selling their product.

To further the strategy, pornographer Patrick Collins filed an action in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia against 58 different unidentified (John Doe) defendants. The case is Civil Action No: 3:11CV531. We were retained by one of the "John Doe" Defendants. We identified a number of problems with Plaintiff's case, not the least of which is the joinder of totally unrelated parties on the same litigation. After seeing this situation, we filed a Motion to Quash on behalf ...
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Attorney Domingo J. Rivera wins Summary Judgment in Computer Trespass Case

In another pioneer decision, attorney Domingo J. Rivera obtained summary judgment in a case involving an ex-husband accessing his wife's email and social network accounts without authorization.

There has been some discussion in the news about a Michigan man that criminally charged with with accessing his wife's computer accounts.  Some commentators have argued that utilizing the computer hacking statutes to prosecute these acts is overreaching, but so far, the courts have provided little guidance on this issue.

Many Federal and State computer crime statutes provide not only criminal, but also civil remedies for the victims. Recently, attorney Domingo Rivera handled one of these civil cases.  As is the case for many pioneering cases handled by attorney Domingo Rivera, this was a case that other attorneys expressed doubt about and that opposing counsel openly minimized.

In this case, the opposing party claimed that the divorce property settlement agreement barred our client's claims and filed a counterclaim against our client for breach of the agreement. We also obtained summary judgment dismissing this claim against our client.

The Court not only agreed with the legal argument advance by attorney Domingo Rivera, but also granted summary judgment.  Obtaining summary judgment means that we prevailed as a matter of law and that a trial to establish liability was not necessary.   The Court expertly discussed the standard for summary judgment:

In determining whether summary judgment is appropriate, the burden is placed on the ...
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Are Website User Reviews Copyrightable?

Are Website User Reviews Copyrightable? by Domingo J. Rivera , Esq.

Internet review sites continue to gain popularity. Users can find a website where they can review just about anything. From whether they like the breakfast bar at a particular hotel to their Toyota's breaking capabilities (or lack thereof), from whether their obstetrician is friendly enough to whether their plastic surgeon made their nose a bit too pointy. If an Internet user wants the world informed of his or her every interaction with the outside world, there is a platform out there to accommodate that.

 

The question is, are these reviews copyrightable material. If they are, the author grants a license to publish these materials to the website and can generally revoke this license. What happens if the original author demands removal of the review? Can the website refuse to do so without incurring potential liability for copyright infringement ? The answer depends on whether these reviews are copyrightable in the first place and involves an Internet law question. In my opinion, they are. You do not need to be John Grisham to copyright your writings.

According to the notes of committee on the Judiciary (1976) for 17 U.S.C. § 102, “[t]he phrase 'original works of authorship,' which is purposely left undefined, is intended to incorporate without change the standard of originality established by the courts under the present copyright statute. This standard does not include requirements of novelty, ingenuity, or esthetic merit, and there is no ...

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Internet Lawyer New Website

We are in the process of updating the Internet Lawyer website. The website was a bit dated and in desperate need of a "facelift."  We have updated the appearance and will be updating the contents to better reflect the current state of our practice. This has been a very successful year for our Internet Law practice, and hopefully the new website will better reflect our image. During that time, some of the urls in the Internet Lawyer website may still resolve to the old pages. I am aware that this has caused some confusion for some of our existing and potential clients, but it will be resolved soon.  We are going through the same process with our Cyber Crime Defense website. This one is almost done, but some urls still need to be fixed.

We will continue updating the website in a manner that will hopefully reduce any confusion. This has been a great year for our Internet Law firm. We became the first law firm in the United States to win a jury trial in Federal Court involving accusations of criminal copyright infringement (music piracy). This was also the most important case of its type. Our client was alleged to be the leader of the most prolific music piracy group in the world. After five days of trial, the jury agreed with us and returned a Not Guilty verdict. ... << MORE >>

U.S. v. Cassim: Domingo Rivera obtains first Federal "music piracy" jury trial defense victory

Today, a federal jury acquitted Adil Cassim who was represented by Domingo J. Rivera.  The United States Department of Justice had alleged that Adil Cassim was the leader of Rabid Neurosis ("RNS").  On the DOJ website, the press release alleged that "according to the indictment, the defendants, led by Cassim for a period of time, allegedly conspired to illegally upload to RNS thousands of copyright protected music files, which were often subsequently reproduced and distributed hundreds of thousands of times. According to the indictment, RNS was a "first-provider" or "release group" for pirated music and other content to the Internet. Once a group obtains and prepares infringing digital copies of copyrighted works, the copies can then be distributed in a matter of hours to secure computer servers throughout the world. According to the indictment, RNS members were granted access to massive libraries of pirated music, video games, software and movies by gaining a reputation for providing previously unavailable pirated materials. The indictment alleges that the supply of pre-release music was often provided by music industry insiders, such as employees of compact disc (CD) manufacturing plants, radio stations and retailers, who typically receive advance copies of music prior to its commercial release.Read the USDOJ press release here.

Various alleged members of RNS have been convicted.  The jury's verdict was released a few hours ago, more details will be available soon.

The CDA, cyber-racketeers, the DMCA, and changes to Section 230 by Domingo Rivera



It has been quite a while since my previous post.  I have been extremely busy assisting my clients with Internet
legal matters.  Internet defamation continues to affect the reputation of
businesses and professionals as former customers, patients, and others who know
that they do not have valid legal claims assert their false and frivolous
complaints in blogs, forums and smear sites.  Even competitors are now
posing as unsatisfied consumers in order to post false and ...<< MORE >>

Cease and Desist Letters: Balancing the Punishment for Bad Faith Against the Punishment for Bad Letters

There is no doubt that cease and desist letters serve a very important purpose in the litigation process, particularly in legal matters related to the Internet.  Many causes of action have bad faith as either an essential element or a factor that increases damages.  A party’s refusal to correct its acts after receiving a legitimate cease and desist notice can be interpreted as a sign of bad faith.  Although a recipient of a cease and desist notice has every right to decline pre-litigation requests without adverse consequences, he must do so in good faith.  Good faith means a ...<< MORE >>

Internet Bloggers Beware: Ohio Court Lands Another Blow Against Those Engaging in Internet Defamation

I recently commented on the impact of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decisionlimiting the protections afforded to service providers under the Communications Decency Act.  In that case, the court refused to provide immunity to website owners who encourage unlawful or defamatory statements.  Less than a month later, the Ohio Court of Appeals also refused to protect the “interests” of bloggers and others who engage in online defamatory statements.  The Ninth Circuit’s message was that if you encourage unlawful conduct, the CDA will not provide you with unwarranted solace.  The Ohio Court ...

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Internet Defamation Law - Website owners and bloggers beware - The latest interpretation of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act

As a general rule, we encourage many of our clients who own or operate websites or blogs and who want to be somewhat protected from Internet defamation claims to not encourage others to post comments.  We also explain to our clients the impact of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has validated our general recommendation for a cautious approach ...

Website operators and web log (blog) owners beware - If you encourage illegal content or design your website to require users to input illegal content, you may not be ...<< MORE >>

Internet Copyright Infringement - Courts Weigh-In

We frequently handle Internet copyright infringement issues.  These issues present themselves in many forms.  Some examples include: Internet copyright infringement resulting from copied website contents, Internet copyright infringement claims against ISP resulting from copied website photographs, Internet copyright infringement claims against Internet search engine from displaying copyright images as thumbnails with the indexed results, and Internet copyright infringement claim against search engine and online retailer resulting from the use of copyrighted images as thumbnails.

Internet copyright infringement decisions are far from uniform.  Quite to the contrary, Internet law is one of the least predictable areas of law. However, the decisions of ...<< MORE >>

Our Interview With the BBC

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of being invited for an interview with reporter Alex Ritson from the BBC. I appeared on his  satellite  radio  broadcast where we discussed issues related to Internet Defamation, the Communications Decency Act immunity, the differences between a service provider and a content provider, the Wikileaks case, and related Internet Law matters. 
...<< MORE >>

Peer to Peer (P2P) software is great!... until the SWAT team arrives

Many people install file sharing, peer-to-peer (P2P) software in their computers.  The concept sounds promising, having open collaboration and open sharing of files and information between Internet users throughout the world.  Unfortunately, that is not the way it usually ends. 

P2P software frequently becomes a tool for copyright infringement, computer hacking, child pornography, and similar actionable conduct.  Often, this conduct results in civil and/or criminal prosecution.  Now, we are not discussing whether P2P software is itself a problem. There is plenty of case law discussing whether the software can be used for non-infringing uses and whether infringement is the primary ...<< MORE >>

Misquoted!

In connection with a federal court trial, we were interviewed by a reporter from a major newspaper in the Washington D.C. area.  The surprise came the following day when I read an article containing the famous "one of his attorneys . . . said" line.  What followed was an inaccurate post (no pun intended).  I have contacted the reporter and have requested a correction.   As Internet lawyers handling cases of high importance, we frequently interact with the professional press.  We understand that errors could be made even by consummate professionals.

...<< MORE >>

Hidden System Files May Support Criminal Prosecution

We recently completed an Internet crime trial.  The large majority of the prosecution's evidence was found in hidden system files of a computer running Windows XP.  These files could not be retrieved without the use of software not standard in Windows and which is not available to unsophisticated computer users. 

It took dedication and patience to explain to the court the inner workings of hidden files such as thumbs.db.  Without the ability to effectively describe the operation of the Windows XP Operating System it would have been impossible to obtain a favorable outcome for our client.  Without this specialized technical ...<< MORE >>

Computer Hacking and Unauthorized Access to Computer Networks: Curiosity Can Kill the Cat

Recently, we have encountered many instances of the following scenario... Often out of curiosity, an Internet website visitor may exceed his authorized access under his access login or under the website's terms of use.  Website access scripts are easily available online. Their use, however, may generate serious accusations of computer crime, specifically hacking and unauthorized access.  Under cybercrime and computer laws, a conviction for computer hacking can carry 20 years to life in prison.

If you are accused of computer hacking or unauthorized access to a computer network a cyber crime and hacking  our computer hacking defense attorneys understand ...<< MORE >>

The importance of having a computer expert as your Internet cyber trial attorney

During a cyber trial, a computer crime, or a trial involving issues of Internet law, I can’t overstress the importance of having an attorney who is not only a legal subject matter expert, but also an expert in computer technology and the technical concepts related to the Internet.

Case in point, we recently completed a long and complex cyber crime trial.  We were fully equipped to expertly handle the criminal defense aspects of the case, we knew the law, how to cross-examine witnesses, and how to establish reasonable doubt.  However, during the trial, it was our technical expertise what allowed us ...<< MORE >>

Microsoft Corporation Sues a Dentist for Trademark Infringement and Cybersquatting

The Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) makes those who register infringing domain names in bad faith liable to civil suits from a trademark owner.  

Microsoft has filed a trademark infringement suit against a California dentist, Dr. Saed Said, who has registered more than 40 Internet domains with names similar to Microsoft’s products or brands, including: aMicrosoftShop.com, aMicrosoftStore.com, XboxOutlet.info and XboxMarket.mobi.

Microsoft claims that Dr. Said operates the domains with the intent to divert Internet surfers looking for Microsoft’s products. "The person has been diverted from the Microsoft Web site he or she was seeking to visit, and Microsoft has lost the ...<< MORE >>

Internet Solicitation of a Minor - Police Entrapment in the Internet Age

It is becoming a common occurrence.  In an Internet chat room, a minor will come in and request to chat privately with someone.  Only that there is no such minor, but a police officer typing away through the night.  Many have followed the bait.  As the chat with the "minor" progresses, the conversation turns sexual in nature.  After some chatting, the minor suggests a meeting in person.... setting up the police sting operation.

At this point, the psychology of Internet chatting comes in.  Only a few subjects will actually attempt to meet this "minor."  The large majority of chatters have no ...<< MORE >>

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