Addressing legal issues with the latest technological developments and social media trends.
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Illustration of man pulling dollar sign with rabbit ears out of top hatJust as video killed the radio star, so did the digital transformation kill (or at least convert) traditional media. While “going digital” became the bane of many traditional media companies that struggled to make the leap to an online world, NFTs may be the digital savior that some of these companies need. Imagine that you are a company with a known brand and sizeable catalog of media with potential historical and cultural significance. Yet, you’ve found it difficult to monetize these assets in a world that abhors paywalls and often takes an overly broad view of what constitutes “fair use.” If only there were a way to highlight the unique significance of these assets and tap into the latent collector in all of us. Anyone who follows us already knows that NFTs can serve this very function.

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Smiling black man in white t-shirt looking to the side (right). Surrounded by images evoking personal info like mapsAs part of our on-going coverage on the use and potential abuse of facial recognition AI, we bring you news out of Michigan, where the University of Michigan’s Law School, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Michigan have filed a lawsuit against the Detroit Police Department (DPD), the DPD Police Chief, and a DPD investigator on behalf of Robert Williams—a Michigan resident who was wrongfully arrested based on “shoddy” police work that relied upon facial recognition technology to identify a shoplifter.

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We spend plenty of time on Internet & Social Media Law exploring the potential legal, regulatory, ethical and just plain common sense ramifications of new technology, but we also strive to point out practical applications of these same technologies as they gain traction in different industries. Over on our Gravel2Gavel Real Estate and Construction blog, colleagues  and  have been doing just that in regard to the intersection of smart home technology and the commercial real estate industry. After an initial consideration of the benefits and potential concerns in “Smart Technology in Commercial Real Estate,”  James and Rachel explore the crucial role evaluation plays in “Evaluating Smart Home Technology: It’s About More Than the Bottom Line.”

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hashtag-1224329586-300x203When the first social media hashtag was used in 2007, users had no idea how ubiquitous hashtags would become. Today, hashtags are an essential part of our lives (and a subject we’ve been writing about for years). From marketing a business to garnering support for a cause, hashtags have become an essential part of our society. This may even be an understatement. For instance, from May 26, 2020, until June 7, 2020, alone, the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag was used over 47 million times on Twitter. 47 million. Talk about impact.

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The U.S. Supreme Court Building

On April 1, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court resolved a long standing issue plaguing providers of text message services and the companies engaging in text message marketing. Lower courts have been split in defining what constitutes an “automatic telephone dialing system” or auto-dialer with the definition either limited to equipment whose capacity to generate, store and dial telephone numbers was limited to random or sequential numbers or to any device with the capacity to store and automatically dial stored numbers using, for example, a speed-dial function.

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NFT non-fungible tokens infographics on colorful abstract background. Anyone who follows the crypto space knows that non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are all the rage of late. We have written on the subject previously on multiple occasions, particularly with respect to NFTs that tokenize works of digital art. (For a primer on digital art NFTs, check out prior posts here and here.)

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CCPA California Consumer Privacy ActOn March 15, amendments to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) banned companies from using “dark patterns” that confuse or delay consumers trying to opt out of the sale of their personal information.

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Sand in hand on a black backgroundInteractive online platforms have become an integral part of our daily lives. While user-generated content, free from traditional editorial constraints, has spurred vibrant online communications, improved business processes and expanded access to information, it has also raised complex questions regarding how to moderate harmful online content. As the volume of user-generated content continues to grow, it has become increasingly difficult for internet and social media companies to keep pace with the moderation needs of the information posted on their platforms. Content moderation measures supported by artificial intelligence (AI) have emerged as important tools to address this challenge.

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Friends drinking rooftop partyYour company wants to use a picture taken outside of your office at an event you are hosting or sponsoring. Perhaps the image shows someone wearing your clothing or other product or using something showing your brand. Possibly you participated in a parade and want some images showing your company’s float or views from the float along the parade route. Maybe the image shows the outside of your building or the immediately surrounding area. You may have hired a photographer to take the pictures, they may have been taken by an employee, or someone may have found them on a third-party website or social media posts. The pictures may depict people who were on the street or present at the event, and they may include images of one or more buildings or local landmarks.

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red heart balloonWe previously wrote on non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that represent art and how that concept is starting to be embraced by the art world. Enter Banksy, a celebrated graffiti artist and political activist whose real name and identity remain unconfirmed. For the past couple of decades, Banksy’s popularity has grown, including a celebrity following, and some of his art pieces have fetched $500,000 or more. One of Banksy’s most famous stunts was having one of his pieces, Girl with Balloon, self-destruct right after being sold at a Sotheby auction. (A shredding mechanism was built into the golden frame holding the work and, as soon as the auctioneer’s gavel fell, selling the piece for about $1.4 million, the piece started passing through the frame which started shredding the canvas.) The winning bidder ultimately opted to keep the piece in its shredded form, and Sotheby’s described the event as “the first work in history ever created during a live auction.” The piece has since been on display at a prestigious German art gallery, and experts suspect the value has increased at least by 50 percent. Go figure.

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