Last Week in Tech Policy Vol. 26: Fair Play, Fair Pay?

(by Molly Hogan, Colorado Law 3L)

Many of our discussions about the different aspects of technology law involve evolving technologies and how antiquated laws can be applied to situations that their drafters could not have fathomed. This week, I wanted to bring it back to discuss a debate surrounding a technology that is over 100 years old: the radio.

Despite the coming and going of records, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs, and now MP3s and beyond, music fans have long been able to rely on the AM/FM radio to hear new music and old classics. Unbeknownst to most listeners is the fact that those artists whose songs play on the radio are not receiving copyright royalties for the airplay.

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Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 25: The CISA/CISPA See-Saw of Cybersecurity

The government intelligence community has long vocally advocated for so-called “backdoors” in encrypted digital communications systems. Proponents of these special modes of entry and intercept into otherwise protected databases and communications believe they are a necessary part of national security in the modern age. However, attempts to statutorily codify these ideas have met significant opposition.

Not to be deterred, the government is currently seeking alternate ways to gather information about suspected criminals and terrorists. Two weeks ago, the Senate passed the Cybersecurity Intelligence Sharing Act (CISA). This bill seeks primarily to permit information technology companies to “voluntarily” share information about security threats with the Department of Homeland Security. Companies would be given immunity both from liability and from FOIA requests regarding this information sharing. A proposed amendment that would have required the scrubbing of personally identifiable information in this information sharing failed to pass.

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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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Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 19: Utilizing and Regulating Cryptocurrencies

(by Dustin Rickett, Colorado Law 3L)

This week’s blog post will focus on how cryptocurrencies and their underlying technologies are making their way into mainstream financial markets.  Last week nine major banks announced that they are researching ways to utilize ledger technology—an integral underlying technology found in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin—and the Commodities Future Exchange Commission brought its first case against a cryptocurrency firm for illegally trading in Bitcoin.

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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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