NFTs’ nifty copyright issues

Whether you are a crypto guru or not, you have likely heard about NFTs. The three-letter acronym, NFT, stands for “Non-Fungible Token”. NFTs are the centre of attention right now because of high-profile sales, such as $70 million for digital artwork, $2.5 million for Jack Dorsey’s first tweet, and more than $230 million spent buying and trading digital collectibles of NBA highlights. Copyright issues are emerging as some artwork and tweets are being tokenized into NFTs without the copyright owner’s consent. To explore copyright in the digital space of NFTs, a basic understanding of NFTs is first … Continue Reading

Social media apps, CDA § 230, and products liability

On May 4, 2021, the Ninth Circuit reversed the district court’s judgment for Snap, Inc., owner of the mobile application Snapchat, in a case brought by the parents of two teenage boys tragically killed in a car accident. The parents claimed that Snap, Inc. caused the death of their sons through its negligent design of Snapchat. They claimed that that their sons were encouraged to drive at dangerously high speeds by a Snapchat filter which purports to show the user’s real-time speed (the “Speed Filter”). The boys in this case drove at speeds reaching 123 miles per hour and eventually … Continue Reading

Online copyright reform consultation launched by the Canadian government

On Wednesday, April 14, 2021, the Canadian government launched a consultation on “a Modern Copyright Framework for Online Intermediaries”, seeking comments from the public until May 31. The goal of this consultation is to “ensure that Canada’s copyright framework for online intermediaries reflects this evolving digital world.” Alongside the announcement of this consultation, the government released a paper entitled “Consultation on a Modern Copyright Framework for Online Intermediaries” (the Paper). The Paper provides a background for this consultation and outlines four potential avenues for copyright reform.… Continue Reading

U.S. Supreme Court ended battle concerning President Trump’s blocking of individuals on Twitter

Introduction

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ended the legal battle between former President Donald Trump and individuals whom Mr. Trump had blocked on Twitter, by granting the government’s petition for a writ of certiorari filed when Mr. Trump was still the President, vacating the Second Circuit’s judgment against Mr. Trump, and remanding the case with instructions to dismiss the matter as moot.  See Biden v. Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, et al., 593 U.S. __ (2021).

The legal discussions offered in this case may be significant for future disputes concerning speech made on interactive online venues made … Continue Reading

Is social media regulation on the way?

So far, 2021 has seen some social media businesses implementing content takedowns, rolling internal reforms and banning high-profile individuals and applications from using their services.  It has caused some tech commentators to question recently whether this could be a defining moment in determining how social media businesses moderate content published on their platforms.

Some are calling for tougher regulation in order to make BigTech more accountable for content that appears on their platforms.  For example, in the UK:

  • A government cabinet minister has acknowledged explicitly that recent events “raise regulation questions”.[1] The UK government accordingly plans to
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Social media and Satan: pitfalls of losing control of brand social media accounts

Be careful whom you entrust with administrator access to your brand’s social media accounts. If an administrator does use your brand’s social media accounts beyond their permitted use, you should formally revoke their authority to access the accounts to allow potential legal action based on their unauthorized use after the revocation.… Continue Reading

California legislature takes aim at social media user conduct

In the last week of March 2021, a bill was introduced in the California assembly that would require social media platforms to publicly disclose the specific user conduct that will get users temporarily or permanently banned from those sites—including online hate, disinformation, extremism, harassment, and foreign interference.… Continue Reading

Think Before You App

Self-isolation, stay-at-home orders, and lockdowns have changed the way we live during the COVID-19 pandemic. As many of us work remotely, limit face-to-face interactions, and stay indoors, we are reaching for our smartphones more and increasing our mobile app use. Mobile app usage increased by 40% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2020, hitting an all-time high of over 200 billion hours of app usage in April. The average user is spending 4 hours and 20 minutes per day on their smartphones, frequently on social media.

Apps for games, entertainment, photo and video sharing, business, health and fitness, shopping, digital … Continue Reading

Social media – trademarks, accounts, and names

On March 4, 2021, a federal trial court in New York issued a preliminary injunction that halted a bridal gown designer and social media influencer from using her social media accounts without her former employer’s permission. JLM Couture, Inc. v. Gutman, No. 20 CV 10575-LTS-SLC (S.D.N.Y. March 4, 2021) (2021 WL 827749).… Continue Reading

Bill S-225: Proposed Canadian legislation to have social media pay news media

Across the world, as digital companies’ advertising revenues climb, traditional news organizations’ revenues fall. As a result, many traditional news organizations, like broadcasters and newspapers, are going out of business. The public’s appetite for journalism, however, has not waned. If anything, the public needs reliable news sources more than ever in this era of “fake news” and internet-borne misinformation. Often it is the very digital platforms that share news organizations’ content that are perceived as putting news organizations out of business.

Governments around the world are contemplating various policies and legislation to save struggling traditional news organizations. Many of these … Continue Reading

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