The Federal Trade Commission’s recent amendments to its Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act Rule will take effect on July 1, 2013, but the changes might ultimately exacerbate a fundamental problem that has persisted since the Rule’s debut: people, parents and children alike, lie. The new amendments will expand the definition of “personal information,” the collection of which triggers a series of special mandates by which child-directed, commercial websites must abide. Expanding this definition and increasing the number of triggers places a greater burden on these websites, which, in response, just ban children from using their services. This response, however, does not deter children, who lie about their age to gain access, often with the help of their parents. Additional regulations might very well lead to more lying and an increase in the unprotected presence of children online.
By Megan Fensterman
In an unprecedented move to protect citizen privacy, Iowa City residents presented the city council with a bill last week which, if passed, would ban the use of all red-light cameras, license plate readers, and traffic enforcement drones within the city. The bill was introduced after several groups, including StopBigBrother.org, Young Americans for Liberty, College Republicans, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, held a forum in March to address citizens’ concerns related to such enforcement technologies. Notably, many parts of the bill are intended as proactive measures; while the bill would require removal of red-light cameras already in place, Iowa City officials have announced no plans to use drones or license plate readers as part of their traffic enforcement strategies.
This week, the Texas legislature passed the “Texas Privacy Act,” a bill that would prohibit private drone usage within the state.
Passing the state Senate 26-5 and House of Representatives 140-4, House Bill 912 would classify drone usage “with the intent to conduct surveillance” as a Class C misdemeanor. The proposal specifically targets private individuals using drones to document “an individual or privately owned real property.”
If Republican Gov. Rick Perry authorizes the proposed law, Texas would be the third state to ban private drone usage: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell agreed to a two year moratorium on drones in February, and Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter signed a privacy-oriented drone restriction into law last month.
Unlike Virginia and Idaho, though, Texas is geographically and politically oriented towards far more than individual privacy rights.
By Peter Dang
When we think of the term “detective,” the image of Sherlock Holmes quickly comes to mind—the quirky hat; the deductive reasoning skills; and, of course, the memorable phrase “Elementary, my dear Watson.” The famous detective first appeared in 1887 in the novel A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Other novels and short stories about Holmes quickly followed and continued to be written and published as late as 1927. Most of those written works have since entered into the public domain, but copyright law still protects ten stories in the United States.
What happens to a character’s copyright protection when the original stories they starred in have entered into the public domain, but those published later have not? (more…)
By Chris Young
You know you have made it as a photographer when your work is appropriated by an artist well known for relying on other artists’ copyrighted material. Last month, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed a lower court ruling that would have compelled American appropriation artist Richard Prince to turn 30 works of art over to the plaintiff, photographer Patrick Cariou. The works in question, paintings and collages exhibited in 2007 and 2008, used some of Cariou’s photographs of Rastafari from his 2000 book, Yes Rasta.
By Pedro Celis
In Blackhorse v. Pro Football, Inc., a group of Native American plaintiffs is challenging several of the Washington Redskins’ trademarks before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB). They claim that the Redskins trademarks “disparage” Native Americans and “bring them into contempt, or disrepute” in violation of Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act. Public pressure on the Redskins to change their name has increased, and most recently, Washington D.C.’s mayor and congressional delegate urged the Redskins to adopt a less offensive name. Despite the public pressure, Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder has stated that he has no plans to change the team’s name, but this trademark litigation could give him a financial incentive to change his mind. The TTAB heard the case in March, and will likely issue a ruling in a few months.
Music sampling has become a mainstay in nearly all genres of popular music. Sampling involves selecting portions of pre-existing sound recordings to use as components of new musical compositions. The amount of work “sampled” ranges from entire “hooks” to a mere a note or two. Nearly as common as this method of music creation are the lawsuits that accompany it—most claiming copyright infringement. As a word of advice to those planning on dabbling in music sampling, it’s best to obtain a license or avoid the Sixth Circuit. The Ninth Circuit, on the other hand, might be a pretty good place to dabble.
By Alexandra Krakow
At a press conference on February 20, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Obama administration’s aim to make the investigation and prosecution of trade secret theft and economic espionage a top priority of the Department of Justice (DOJ). Taking such measures to protect against trade secret theft is a worthy priority. According to Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, U.S. companies suffered estimated losses in 2012 of more than $300 billion due to theft of trade secrets, a large share due to Chinese cyber-espionage. Holder elaborated on the problem: “In some industries, a single trade secret can be worth millions—or even billions—of dollars. Trade secret theft can require companies to lay off employees, close factories, to lose sales and profits, to experience a decline in competitive position and advantage, or even to go out of business. And this type of crime can have significant impacts not only on our country’s economic well-being, but on our national security as well.”
Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc.: The American Medical Association’s Amicus Brief
Earlier this week, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc. The case involves challenges to the practice of gene patenting and specifically Myriad Genetics’ seven patents on isolated gene sequences. The American Medical Association (AMA), “concerned about the effect that the decision will have on the practice of medicine and on medical research,” contributed an amicus brief to the court.
On March 30, Judge Richard J. Sullivan of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a groundbreaking ruling denying first sale protection to resellers of digital music. Along with the Kirtsaeng case, on which the Supreme Court ruled in March, the ReDigi case was watched by many in the arts and technology spheres as a case in which the courts would determine the applicability of the first sale doctrine in the 21st-century economy. Yet, while the Supreme Court in Kirtsaeng viewed the doctrine expansively, holding that copyrighted materials purchased in foreign countries could be legally resold in the United States, the ReDigi court held that the nature of digital file transfers renders the files unfit for resale.