What Happens to a Person’s “Digital Assets” When They Die?: A Legislative Proposal

The Internet has become an expansive virtual world users around the world are exploring, annexing, and defining, just as they always have always done in terra firma, or the natural physical world. With the click of a mouse, anybody has the ability to purchase digital books, movies, and music. People are also using the Internet to communicate with others. We create online accounts, paving digital footprints, trails of data from our Internet usage, and building pseudo-homes within the terrains of the World Wide Web on social media sites. It is undeniable that social media use is booming. According to Pew Internet Project, as of January 2014, 74% of online adults use social networking sites. When Internet users first make accounts on sites like Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter, the process is straightforward. However, there is a complicated quandary that is all too often overlooked but demands attention: how to handle these digital outlets when an account-holder dies.

Take a moment and think about your “assets” and everything you “own.” Merriam Webster Dictionary describes an asset as “something that is owned by a person, company, etc.,” and Black’s Law Dictionary defines ownership as “the complete dominion, title, or proprietary right in a thing or claim.” When I was first asked the question above, only tangible items came to mind. I own the bejeweled wrist-watch I purchased with my very first paycheck (which is currently, luckily, in storage), the screen portrait my parents gave to me as an apartment-warming present, and a collection of CDs my older brothers handed down to me from their adolescence. These physical items constitute a small portion of my assets. However, according to some states, the dimensions of my assets are much greater than I ever possibly imagined. Delaware in particular has adopted a new law declaring “digital assets” such as social media accounts as inheritable property. Continue reading What Happens to a Person’s “Digital Assets” When They Die?: A Legislative Proposal

Women’s World Cup ‘Turf War’ is Over

This past October, a group of professional women’s soccer players, including stars Abby Wambach and Nadine Angerer, filed a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination against FIFA and the Canadian Soccer Association (the “CSA”) in the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. The suit arose from the CSA’s and FIFA’s decision to use artificial turf instead of real grass for the 2015 women’s World Cup. All previous world cup tournaments and the upcoming men’s World Cup in Russia (2018) and Qatar (2022) have been played and will be played on natural grass.

However, now the players decided to drop the lawsuit. FIFA has a long standing reputation of sexism and favoritism to the male soccer players over their female counterparts, and with the dropped lawsuit, it seems as if they will continue to get away with it. Continue reading Women’s World Cup ‘Turf War’ is Over

3D Printing and Patent Liability

Dr. Hideo Kodama developed the first three-dimensional printing technology, called Rapid Prototyping (“RP”), in 1980. Kodama developed his RP technology for creating industrial prototypes. Kodama unfortunately failed to file the full patent specification before the one-year deadline. Six years later, the United States Patent Office issued Charles Hull the first patent for his stereolithography apparatus (“SLA”), constituting the genesis of modern 3D printing technology. Numerous new 3D printing methods were developed and patented between the 1980s and early 2000s. Within the past ten years, the 3D printing sector has settled into two distinct emphases.

One end of the 3D printing spectrum is high-end, highly engineered industrial parts, with growing applications in the aerospace, medical, automotive industries among others. The other end of the spectrum existed the concept modelers. Concept modelers had a focus on cost-effective concept development and functional prototyping, in a similar vein to the early printers of the 1980s. Concept modelers constitute a precursor to today’s desktop models, though purposed for industry at the time. In January 2009, the first commercially availably printer was put on the market, the BfB RapMan 3D printer. Sometimes called the second or third Industrial Revolution, 3D printing has had an undeniable impact on the industrial sector and has enormous potential for future consumers. Continue reading 3D Printing and Patent Liability

Suggestions for Bitcoin Regulation

Bitcoin is widely relevant. Just look at the variety of Bitcoin-related accounts on Instagram, including one where a family of four is travelling around the United States using only Bitcoins. Bitcoin has also been introduced to mainstream consumers across the world as pre-paid gift cards. Walk into a convenience store in South Korea or Taiwan and buy yourself some Bitcoins on the spot. Similarly, Bitcoins have real-world implications since major retailers such as Overstock have begun to accept Bitcoins as an alternative form of payment. Continue reading Suggestions for Bitcoin Regulation

That Facebook Hoax Explained

“Better safe than sorry right. Channel 13 news was just talking about this change in Facebook’s privacy policy. Better safe than sorry. As of January 3rd, 2015 at 11:43am Easter standard time. I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past and future. By this statement I give notice to Facebook it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute or take any other action against me based on this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of privacy can be punished by law (UCC 1-308-11 308-103 and Rome statute). NOTE: Facebook is now a public entity. All members must post a not like this. If you prefer, you can copy and paste this version. If you do not publish this statement at least once it will be tactically allowing the use of your photos, as well as information contained in the profile status updates. DO NOT SHARE you MUST copy and paste to make this I will leave a comment so it will be easier to copy and paste!!”

Anyone who has a Facebook account has seen this status, or a similar status, time and time again. Even your smartest Facebook friends have taken it upon themselves to “protect” the information and photos they have posted online. While copyright and contract lawyers may laugh at the thought of falling for such a claim, these posts have become a reoccurring phenomenon since their origin in 2012. While it is unknown why the hoax began in the first place, the hoax does provide incite into Facebook users’ fears and confusion over intellectual property and contractual rights. This is what has inspired me to write this article in order to explain the rights Facebook users obtain and the rights they sign away when they create an account.

Continue reading That Facebook Hoax Explained

3D Printing and Beyond: Emerging Intellectual Property Issues with 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing

The Cardozo Arts and Entertainment Law Journal hosted its Spring Symposium on Monday, February 2nd, 2015. The heavy precipitation and frigid temperatures did not stop practitioners, scholars and students alike from coming together in impressive numbers to engage in a discussion about the intellectual property issues surrounding 3D printing.

3D printing represents one of the most intriguing areas of technological growth in the world.  3D printing is a term used for various methods of additive manufacturing where successive layers of material are added to create a desired object from CAD/CAM computer files, which can also be generated using a 3D scanner. Common materials for use with 3D printers include plastics and metals, with experimentation around the world pursuing novel inputs such as microscopic electrodes, semi-conductors and even living human cells. Over the last decade, 6,800 3D printing/additive manufacturing patents have been filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Continue reading 3D Printing and Beyond: Emerging Intellectual Property Issues with 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing

Getting Up to Speed: The Disconnect Over Municipal Broadband

Since the inception of the Internet, users have demanded faster download and upload speeds in order to quickly access and share webpages, news, photos, and videos. During the 1990s, most Internet users accessed the web through “dial-up” modems, where access was limited to 56 kilobits per second (Kbps). Today, technological progression allows some users to access the Internet at speeds of up to 1000 megabits per second (Mbps), but the average download speed in the United States hovers around 32 Mbps. This dramatic increase in Internet speeds has allowed users to peruse and explore the web in a significantly different fashion than early Internet users. For example, a High-definition copy of a two-hour movie like The Interview, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, is roughly five gigabits in size. Using a 56k dial-up modem, it would have taken a user more than eight days to download the movie. Contrastingly, with a 1000 Mbps Internet connection, the same movie can be downloaded in less than one minute. Continue reading Getting Up to Speed: The Disconnect Over Municipal Broadband