Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 17: Do We Want to be Lab Rats?

(by Calli Schroeder, Colorado Law 3L)

Large companies experiment on their users all the time in large and small ways through “product testing.” Changing the format of a homepage or the layout of an app to see if it facilitates easier use or better engagement could constitute an “experiment.”  However, what happens when the experiment is only tangentially related to the product?  And how does this affect our understanding of privacy and informed consent?

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Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 16: The Art of Deception: a Gift or a Curse?

(by Annie Tooley, Colorado Law 2L)

Following on last week’s post, another dark cloud continues to loom over the Internet: malware. Malware is somewhat two-faced.  On one side, hackers use malware to gain access to personal information.  On the other side, the government uses malware to track down criminals and terrorists.  But what happens when the line separating the two starts to blur?  This post will explore the “good” and “bad” sides of deceptive delivery of malware.

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Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 15: The Internet’s Lousy Summer Vacation

We’re back for Season 2 of our ongoing weekly recap of current tech policy news. As always, the TLPC Director (that’s me—Blake Reid) takes on the first blog post of the semester before the TLPC’s student attorneys take over for the duration. As summer comes to a close in Boulder, this post explores some of the dark clouds have circled over the Internet in recent weeks.

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The TLPC Goes to DC

(by Chelsea Brooks, Student Attorney)

From March 22-25, students from the Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law & Policy Clinic visited DC to meet with a variety of policymakers to discuss their projects. The TLPC teams are working on accessibility to 911, exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,  spectrum interference dispute resolution, and addressing trademark opposition policy. The students visited law firms, a variety of administrative agencies, public interest organizations, and Congress, and even delivered a guest lecture at Gallaudet University.

TLPC Student Attorneys Left to Right: Victoria Naifeh, Allison Daley, Conor Stewartson

TLPC Student Attorneys Left to Right: Victoria Naifeh, Allison Daley, Conor Stewartson

TLPC Students
TLPC Students
TLPC Students
TLPC Students
TLPC Students
TLPC Students

 

Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 13: Digital Technologies and Innovation in the Distribution of Music

Last week, rapper and business mogul Jay Z reintroduced Tidal in a press conference highlighting the platform as an artist-owned, subscription-based music service. The service boasts a movement to “change the status quo” and “reestablish the value of music.” Tidal values music at $19.99 per month for high fidelity (lossless/CD-Quality) streaming, or $9.99 per month—comparable to other music streaming services like Spotify.

The re-emergence of Tidal as a music streaming service owned by artists themselves in order to procure greater profits for their music begs the question: how are artists doing now?

This infographic from data journalist and information designer David McCandless shows how many plays from each music service an artist needs to earn a monthly minimum wage of $1,260.

As we previously discussed, digital technologies have changed the way consumers receive all entertainment content. Some argue that the rise of music piracy and peer-to-peer sharing in the digital age have impacted profits, but the migration to streaming services may also have a countervailing impact on piracy.

Spotify claims that their free model shifts consumers away from piracy to a platform they can simply listen to music for free, and then drives them to the paid subscription ($120 per year), doubling the amount these average consumers spend on music (supposedly, $55 per year), and generating more royalties for the artists. Some artists, notably Taylor Swift, have qualms with the free tier service Spotify provides.

Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 10: Digital Technologies and Innovation in the Distribution of Content

(by Sam Moodie, Student Attorney)

This past Thursday, Colorado Law’s Silicon Flatirons Center hosted a conference focusing on the current state of innovation in the creation and distribution of content.  The conference hosted well-known artists in music, film, television, and photography as well as major players in content distribution to discuss in part, how digital technologies are either enhancing or challenging traditional structures of creation and distribution.

Music

Music has long been the stage to exemplify how digital technologies can frustrate and disrupt an entire content industry.  Some have argued that the rise of music piracy, peer-to-peer sharing, and pay-per-track have drastically reduced profits for music executives, song writers, and performing artists alike.  The new wave in music distribution is streaming—a technology made possible through licensing and advertising revenues.  However, artists claim that this model drastically under-compensates them  for their work, to the point where an artists song earning a million streams may not even earn the profit of $100.  In response, some popular artists like Taylor Swift has removed her work from Spotify, one of the most successful music streaming sites.

Many now question whether streaming has fundamentally shaken the music industry at its core, or if the traditional business structure simply needs to adapt slightly in order to remain relevant. Some take the perspective that users need to be retrained on the value of content, and how to interact with it.

Television

Digital technology in the television industry has quickly stepped in to answer users’ demands to control their content.  The most notable means through which this has happened are subscription networks like Netflix and Amazon Prime.  This distribution model arguably assists in the democratization of television because producers can work directly with distribution companies instead of working within the traditional broadcast television structure.

Similarly, the interfaces used by these entities provide a wealth of content and allow users to interact and search for content on their own terms.  The subscription model allows for a wider array of content, often much edgier than can be found on mainstream television, and at a vastly lower price compared to cabe subscriptions.

This leads to the question of whether cable and broadcast are still relevant, and if so, if they can remain relevant in the future.  Some consider the current price of cable subscriptions to be unsustainable given the success and popularity on online streaming television.

Some see traditional and digital entities as being able to work together.  As noted at the conference,  cable providers and producers see themselves as the leaders in providing up-to-date and new content.  Coupling with entities like Netflix that provide past seasons of television shows all at once, allowing viewers to binge watch and catch up on past content, may be a perfect marriage for complete access to content.  However, with Netflix now creating its own series, how long will cable have a relevant role in this relationship?

Regardless, it is increasingly clear that these technologies are giving a considerable amount of leverage to users. The point where the balance has shifted, and industry executives are losing more and more control over their content.

Last Week in Tech Law & Policy, Vol.3: SOTU and the Community Broadband Act

(by Elizabeth J. Chance, Colorado Law 3L)

State of the Union: In his State of the Union address last Tuesday, President Obama shared his vision on hot-topic issues in technology law and policy. In response to debates over US surveillance programs, President Obama promised a report next month on how the country’s intelligence agencies are keeping our country safe and strengthening privacy. Additionally, President Obama assured the country that the government is integrating intelligence to address cyber attacks, and urged Congress to pass legislation to better meet the evolving need of cybersecurity. Without expressly referencing the issue of net neutrality or municipal broadband,  President Obama discussed the need for 21st century infrastructure including fast, free, and open Internet:

Twenty-first century businesses need twenty-first century infrastructure—modern ports, stronger bridges, faster trains and the fastest Internet. . . . I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world.

Community Broadband Act: Two days after the President’s State of the Union Address, four Democrats introduced the Community Broadband Act in Congress. The Community Broadband Act aims to preserve the rights of cities and localities to build municipal broadband networks and ensure that their communities are connected and have access to reliable networks. Senator Edward Markey also continued to urge the FCC to act to use its authority to end any state restrictions that impede local communities from making these decisions for themselves.