Law, Technology & Arts Blog

Wearable Technology: Better and Worse Than You Thought

ImageBy Doug Logan

The idea of wearable electronics has long been associated with distant technologies that never quite materialize. But as technology keeps marching forward, so does the prospect of having highly functional devices that are layered on, attached to, or even embedded into our bodies. Many are now familiar with Google’s Google Glass, the wearable eyewear that provides users with a functional screen and camera attached to a pair of glasses, yet fewer are familiar with other wearable technologies on the horizon.

Intel recently announced its “Make It Wearable” competition finalists. The finalists include: a project aimed at allowing users to run on a treadmill and read at the same time by tracking the vertical motion of the user and matching the text’s movement; a jacket that cools down hot people and warms cold people; a wisdom tooth monitoring device that tracks conditions in one’s mouth after wisdom teeth removal; a small listening device designed to track the voices of those speaking to children; and a special fabric designed to absorb human sweat and carbon dioxide in order to produce oxygen. (more…)

Suit over Michael Jackson Hologram Could Signal Future of the Holography Industry

Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 9.43.11 AMBy Alex Boguniewicz

The phenomenon of bringing deceased musicians back to life on stage via “hologram” technology may have hit a bump in the road with the most recent suit involving the controversial process. We have previously covered some of the copyright implications of these holographic resurrections, but now Hologram USA and Musion Das Hologram Limited have filed a complaint in the Federal District Court for Central California against Cirque Du Soleil alleging patent infringements stemming from Cirque Du Soleil’s use of a Michael Jackson hologram in a stage show. Hologram USA and Musion claim to exclusively hold the North American patents on the devices that generate these images. This case will likely prove to be a major indicator of whether we will see more artists performing on stage via this method, or whether this will become a tightly guarded industry.

These images are not holograms in the strict sense of the word, but instead have their origin in a 19th Century illusion technique known as “Pepper’s Ghost,” an effect that creates an eerie image by carefully manipulating an object’s reflection against a backdrop. Musion used this trick as the basic starting point to develop apparatuses that create the illusion of a three-dimensional image “virtually indistinguishable from real-life bodies.” Musion holds the patents for two devices necessary to generate this projection: 1) a tool to display the moving images on the stage (the “519 Patent”) and 2) the actual projection apparatus and method for the Pepper’s Ghost illusion (the “212 Patent”). Musion subsequently granted Hologram USA an exclusive license to use these patented devices. Together, the two inventions allowed Pepper’s Ghost to make the leap from theme park and magic show mainstay to live concert prop, most notably during the 2012 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, when Tupac Shakur “performed” on stage with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg nearly 16 years after his death. (more…)

Death by Drones: Is a U.S. Citizen Entitled to Due Process?

ImageBy Nicholas Ulrich

Last Friday, Judge Rosemary Collyer of the District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the case brought by Nasser Al-Aulaqi over the drone killings of his son, Anwar Al-Aulaqi, and grandson Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi. Unmanned U.S. drone strikes in Yemen killed Anwar and Abdulrahman, both of whom were United States citizens. The Obama Administration specifically targeted Anwar after deeming him a terrorist and placing him on a “kill list.” Though suspected of facilitating the attempted Christmas Day bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 in 2009, Anwar was never charged, tried, or convicted of any crimes. Despite this, a U.S. drone killed him on September 30, 2011 while he was driving a car in Yemen.

Two weeks later, an unmanned drone strike killed Anwar’s teenage son, Abdulrahman, while he was sitting in an open-air café in southern Yemen. Abdulrahman and the six others killed with him were not specifically targeted nor officially deemed terrorists by the Obama Administration. Rather, they were mere bystanders in a strike intended for Ibraham Al-Banna, an Egyptian national. Incidentally, Al-Banna was not killed in the strike.


Ninth Circuit Holds Stock Photography Collection Registration Protects Individual Images, Defers to Longstanding Copyright Office Practice

By Amanda BringsImage

In Alaska Stock, LLC v. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Pub. Co., the Ninth Circuit recently weighed in on the much-contested issue of whether the copyright registration for a photograph collection protects the individual images within the collection. Adopting the approach of the Fourth and Fifth circuits, the court held that when a stock photography agency registers a collection of images and the agency has ownership rights in both the collection and the individual images, the registration covers both the collection as a whole and the individual images.

The case arose when Alaska Stock, a stock photography agency, filed a complaint against the major publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) alleging that HMH committed copyright infringement when it exceeded its license to use Alaska Stock’s images. HMH moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that Alaska Stock did not have valid copyright registrations for the individual images under 17 U.S.C. § 409, and therefore could not bring suit under 17 U.S.C. § 411(a), which makes registration a precondition for an infringement action. (more…)

Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts Publishes Winter 2014 Issue

Posted in University of Washington School of Law by LTA-Editor on April 7, 2014

The Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts (LTA Journal) has published its Winter 2014 Issue. The LTA Journal publishes concise legal analysis aimed at practicing attorneys on a quarterly basis.

In the issue’s first article, “The Internet and the Constitution: A Selective Perspective,” the Honorable M. Margaret McKeown of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit offers her retrospective thoughts on the ways courts have handled constitutional issues in Internet cases. She also discusses some of the challenges currently facing courts and legislators alike as the U.S. legal system incorporates and accommodates Internet-based technologies and the societal, commercial, governmental, and relational changes they spawn.

The issue’s second article was written by John Morgan and Veronica Sandoval and is titled “Pacific Northwest Perspective: The Impact of the America Invents Act on Nonprofit Global Health Organizations.” The article explores the effects of the AIA on nonprofit research organizations dedicated to global health and life sciences, and reports the perspectives of counsel representing such organizations throughout the Pacific Northwest.


Congress Moves to Remove Child Sex-Trafficking from Online Marketplaces

By Max Burke

There is a small political movement afoot to combat child sex trafficking online. Representative Ann Wagner of Missouri recently introduced a bill called the Stop Advertising Victims of Exploitation (SAVE) Act, which would make it unlawful to knowingly advertise certain commercial sex acts. The bill has quickly gained co-sponsors, and it joins other bills that are intended to target sex trafficking. Although SAVE does not distinguish between online advertisers and print advertisers (indeed, it does not mention anything Internet-related), its sponsors have stated that the bill is “designed to close Internet marketplaces that host advertisements for the commercial exploitation of minors.”

Prostitution and child sex trafficking in America is an enormous underground industry that has moved from the streets to online marketplaces like, a classified advertising website. Unfortunately, law enforcement and prosecutors are finding it difficult to fully thwart online sex trafficking because Backpage and other websites are hiding behind Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields Internet service providers (ISPs) from liability for third party postings. Courts have ruled that this section provides immunity to websites that host classified ads, even if there are ads for prostitution or child sex trafficking. This immunity protects ISPs against both state criminal prosecution and civil suits by victims.


Turkey’s Mystifying Twitter Blockade: #TotalMediumBan

Posted in Government and Regulation by LTA-Editor on March 27, 2014

“We’re Number One!”

By Chris Young

On Thursday, March 20, 2014, the Turkish government, through a court-order, announced that it would block local access to Twitter’s website.. The move came amidst a corruption scandal and nine days before local elections. The initial ban operated at the Domain Name System (“DNS”) level (A domain name may serve as a proxy for a given website’s Internet Protocol (“IP”) resource). Here, the Turkish government has decided that its citizens are not entitled to access a website that provides a communicative network for 200 million folks across the globe.

The following Saturday, March 22, the government acknowledged that regaining control of political expression may have been a possible motive, stating that Twitter has allowed “systematic character assassinations.” Worse yet in the government’s estimation, Twitter has allegedly failed to remove offensive content that the Turkish court order characterized as defamation. But some commentators have suggested that this is actually a clever move meant to signal to Twitter that if it means to do business in Turkey, it must establish a presence in-country, becoming more economically and legally accountable for misuse. The problem with this strategy is that the ban doesn’t seem to be effective.


THE UNKNOWN PRICE OF FREEDOM: The real cost of Getty Images’ free-for-all evolution

Posted in Intellectual Property, Privacy by LTA-Editor on March 24, 2014


By Annie Allison

Getty Images recently announced that it will stop charging (and in some cases suing) for non-commercial uses of its copyrighted imagery and will start allowing bloggers and social-media users embed stock pictures in a controllable way. Getty’s new strategy will allow anyone to select an image and copy a code to use that image on their own website. While proponents cheer Getty for adapting to the rapidly evolving online marketplace, others question what the costs of these free images may be on privacy.

Craig Peters, senior vice president of business development, content and marketing at Getty Images explained the reasoning for the company’s shift in approach: “It’s incredibly easy to find content online and simply right-click to utilize it. … The vast majority of infringement in this space happen[s] with self-publishers who typically don’t know anything about copyright.”

Under its new strategy, Getty Images will serve the image much like YouTube currently does with its videos and will include the full copyright information and a link back to the image’s dedicated licensing page. “There’s a value for Getty Images and the content owners,” says Peters. “We’ll have access to the information on who and how that image is being used and viewed, and we’ll… utilize that data to the benefit of our business.”


Could The Innocence of Muslims Change Copyright Law?

Posted in Case Comment, Intellectual Property by LTA-Editor on March 21, 2014

googlegavel-188By Pedro Celis

The anti-Islamic YouTube video The Innocence of Muslims has had widespread ramifications. It caused riots around the world and played a prominent role in the Benghazi scandal. But could the YouTube video also lead to groundbreaking copyright case law?

The Ninth Circuit recently ordered Google to remove the video from YouTube. The court ruled that Cindy Garcia, an actress who appeared in the video for approximately 5 seconds, proved that she was likely to succeed on her copyright claim against the filmmaker. Garcia argued that she had an independent copyright in her performance in the film, despite the fact that she received $500 for her performance. Although she did not contest that her performance was both scripted and directed, the court found that her performance had enough creativity to support an independent copyright claim.


Live Video Testimony: The New Frontier, or Just a Bad Idea?

Posted in Litigation, Technology by LTA-Editor on March 17, 2014

Live Video TestimonyBy Shira Zucker

Last summer, those who tuned in to watch live telecasts of the George Zimmerman murder trial witnessed the prosecution fumble through an embarrassing technological snag.  The prosecution’s cross-examination of a defense witness who appeared remotely via Skype was interrupted when dozens of other Skype users “jammed” the chatline.  According to at least one source, pranksters had posted the witness’s Skype username to the online community 4chan and the username was broadcast on national television.  After a barrage of distracting “pings,” the judge aborted the Skype testimony and ordered that it continue via speakerphone.

Remote testimony is not new to courtrooms.  Back in 1990, the Supreme Court ruled in Maryland v. Craig that testimony by an alleged child sex abuse victim via Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) did not violate the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment.  An increasing number of trial courts have since ruled that live web-based video interviews in criminal trials do not impinge the defendant’s right to confront witnesses against him.  Notably, the CCTV technology used in Craig transmits a closed signal.  Arguably, web-based technologies could increase the risk of interference with the defendant’s right of cross-examination or the jury’s ability to adequately assess the witness’s body language and demeanor, due to the threat of technical glitches or unsecure networks.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 100 other followers

%d bloggers like this: