2020

We have previously written about the lawsuits that can result from unauthorized uses of photographs, but on November 2, 2020, a federal trial court in New York issued a ruling regarding use of a photo from a social media site that was “fair use” under the copyright laws. (Boesen, v. United Sports Publications, Ltd., 20-CV-1552 (ARR) (SIL) (E.D.N.Y. Nov. 2, 2020).

On November 17, 2020, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Navdeep Bains, tabled proposed legislation in Parliament that aims to overhaul Canada’s data privacy law. Bill C-11, entitled An Act to enact the Consumer Privacy Protection Act and the Personal Information and Data Protection Tribunal Act and to make consequential and related amendments to other Act, will create new data privacy obligations and new enforcement mechanisms for these obligations if it becomes law.

As the second wave of COVID-19 spreads across Canada, the use of COVID-19 tracing apps is on the rise. For example, the Government of Canada released COVID Alert – an app using Bluetooth technology to help people report positive diagnoses, and control the spread of the virus. The success of the app depends on a high quantity of users, but concerns over privacy and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in analyzing the data may hinder that objective.

There seem to be a lot of questions lately about the use of photographs on social media, so a recent federal court case may be of interest in raising some risks you may not have contemplated. The case involves some photos that professional models had posted to their social media pages, which they alleged had been copied and altered by a nightclub to make it appear that they worked at or endorsed the nightclub. (Moreland v. Beso Lounge & Restaurant LLC, case no. 3:19-cv-00958 (VLB) (D. Conn. Sept. 4, 2020) (2020 WL 5302312).)

In September 2020, the California legislature sent a bill to the Governor’s desk which would bar a social media company from opening an account for anyone it “actually knows” is under the age of 13, absent parental consent. The bill, passed with bipartisan support within the legislature, aims to bring social media companies in line with existing federal and California law requiring parental consent before a minor’s personal information is obtained online or sold. (The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) prohibits companies from selling a minor’s personal information without obtaining the authorization of the consumer’s parent or guardian if the business has actual knowledge the consumer is less than 16 years old.)

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a large effect on our entertainment consumption. Some entertainment industries have taken significant hits, while others have been more fortunate in their rise. Videogame streaming is one such industry on the rise. During the pandemic, the global viewership of popular streaming platforms Twitch and YouTube Gaming increased by 10% and 15%, respectively. This increase in viewership appears to be directly correlated with the local severity of the pandemic. For instance, when Italy was experiencing the worst outbreak in Europe, the hours of live gaming content streamed in that country increased by an estimated 66%.

It is clear that the business of videogame streaming is increasing. And like other big businesses, videogame streaming is subject to complex legal issues. Because videogame streaming is a relatively nascent industry, many of its legal issues have yet to be decided in a court of law.

The California court of appeals recently allowed a defamation claim to proceed against a company’s CEO for libelous social media posts made about a former employee after her termination. According to her complaint, the employee had been the company’s only female senior executive during her tenure. Following a brief, rocky stint with the company, the employee was terminated, and she filed a lawsuit against the company, asserting claims for gender discrimination, retaliation, and harassment.

On June 17, 2020, the Southern District of New York issued an opinion and order in a complex matter between a social media gaming celebrity and a contract he signed with an esports and entertainment company. (Faze Clan, Inc., v. Tenney, 19-cv-7200 (JSR) (S.D.N.Y. July 17, 2020) (2020 WL 3318209).)