Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 24: Will Your Autonomous Car be Programmed to Kill You?

(by R. Kolton Ray, Colorado Law 2L)

Back to the Future Day—October 1, 2015—was celebrated this past week to commemorate the day that Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled through time to save Marty’s future son in Back to the Future II. It’s easy to laugh at the zany fashion and technology—i.e., fax machines—but director Robert Zemeckis got a lot right about 2015. For example, Nike will release a pair of self-lacing sneakers next year, and hover boards have become close to a reality. The film even portrayed a current political candidate as a wacky villain.

While we have yet to reach the Back to the Future-style flying cars depicted in the second film, we are very close to the introduction of self-driving cars into our travel ecosystem. Google’s self-driving car has successfully completed 1 million miles and the company is planning to release a model to the general public by 2017. Automotive powerhouses like GM, Ford, Toyota, Daimler-Chrystler and Volkswagen have all partnered with Google, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that manually-operated cars will be illegal once autonomous cars reach 100% penetration.

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Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 23: The Rise of eSports

(by John Dubiel, Colorado Law 2L)

In August of 2015 teams from around the world competed for a total prize pool of $18,429,613 with the winners taking home over $6 million. A competition called The International 2015 took place at KeyArena in Seattle, Washington, with a live audience, all for a video game, DOTA 2.

This was the largest prize pool ever for an eSports competition, but competitive gaming has existed since the early 1980’s. One of the first games to be played competitively for money was Swordquest: Earthworld. The prize pool there was a jeweled talisman, valued at $25,000. Now there are eSports tournaments for League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Starcraft 2,  DOTA 2, and others taking place almost hourly. As  interest in eSports has grown, legal challenges have become more apparent; players now have contracts, people are betting on every game, and every game involves intellectual property. Continue reading “Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 23: The Rise of eSports”

Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 22: Open Source Firmware and the Future of Router Modification

(by Jeffrey Westling, Colorado Law 2L)

Last Friday, the Federal Communications Commission closed the comment period for ET Docket No. 15-170, a controversial proceeding that may limit Wi-Fi users’ ability to install open source firmware on wireless routers. The FCC has remained adamant that their goal in this process is not to restrict users from modifying their routers, but rather to ensure that routers do not operate outside certain regulatory parameters. However, Wi-Fi users fear that the new rules may actually incentivize manufacturers to block all open source firmware from being installed on their devices rather than just limiting signal boosting capabilities or operating outside of the correct channels.

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Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 21: Peeple – the “Yelp for people” App

(by Jim Murray, Colorado Law 2L)

“Yelp for People” is Here

This week saw the unveiling of a new app called Peeple, set to launch in November. The app bills itself as “Yelp for people.” The app provides a place for people to view and create reviews of other people. Those reviews can be submitted by anyone who knows the target’s phone number, including ex-girlfriends, former co-workers, and anyone else who may happen to come across that number.

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