Back in September, we looked at the concerns and implications surrounding a proposed new copyright law being considered by EU legislators. Yesterday, perhaps faster than many expected, the European Parliament passed the new law. Many tech companies, digital rights activists and academic researchers found common ground in opposing the legislation, which they claim will stifle information sharing and enable censorship. Supporters of the law see it as a means to protect creative content. As written, the legislation is not quite as restrictive in all areas as initially feared—memes and gifs are “safe,” as are uploads to noncommercial and open-source sites—but nonetheless, now that it has been passed, and after inevitable legal challenges lead to further adjustments in the language, we’ll see who was right.
Fortnite is the most popular video game in the world. So popular that it was last year’s highest earning video game, grossing more than $2.4 billion in 2018 alone. So popular, in fact, that its fans successfully convinced Sony to reverse its longstanding policy against cross-platform gaming, thus allowing PlayStation Fortniters to play with their PC, mobile and other console-owning friends. Fortnite is also free.
Do you like getting your news online, sharing videos or tweeting memes? A little piece of legislation known as The European Union Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market may signal the end of some of the internet’s simple pleasures. On September 13, the European Parliament approved new legislation that would overhaul the region’s approach to copyright law. As with the EU’s privacy regulations, the legislation could have an impact far beyond Europe, redrawing the lines of liability that exist between poster, publisher and platforms. Not surprisingly, technology companies and publishers like Google, Amazon, and Wikipedia strongly opposed the legislative changes.
From the frontiers of content creation, we bring news in the longstanding war between man and machine. Or, in this particular case, animators versus software. Researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and the University of Washington are developing artificial intelligence software, dubbed “Composition, Retrieval and Fusion Network” (or CRAFT for short), that allows a user to generate a new video scene composed of graphic elements extracted from a library of preexisting video scenes by simply typing out a description of the new scene (e.g., “Fred is wearing a blue hat and talking to Wilma in the living room. Wilma then sits down on a couch.”). See here for those that prefer academic papers and here for those that prefer videos.
Let’s talk shop. With LeBron James. Sounds cool right? That’s what James and his partner Maverick Carter thought when their entertainment company Uninterrupted developed The Shop. On The Shop, James and his friends, business associates, and various celebrity figures banter while getting their hair cut. Uninterrupted aired two episodes of the series with the first episode, (which premiered during the 2017 NBA Finals), garnering roughly four million views across Uninterrupted.com and ESPN’s YouTube channel.
As technology becomes increasingly advanced and complex, it seems that a new software emerges every day to perform some novel function. Whether it is computer generated imagery (CGI) or deciphering a code in a bible, software developers are helping the users of their software make great strides in all types of industries. In these situations, it’s commonly accepted that the developer owns the software and the user can use the benefits of the software through a license. However, a less clear issue has arisen in recent years—does the software developer own the output generated when using the software?
When it comes to finding ways of making money, no corner of a capitalistic society shall go unmined. This applies to obvious goods and services but also comes into play with our very thoughts and how we express them. In the age of social media, not even the framed needlepoint proverb is safe from “disruption”: behold, the framed tweet.
Almost everyone (even my parents) has seen the Crying Michael Jordan meme popping up around the internet and social media. Crying Jordan has appeared in the standard meme form of photoshopped images and gifs but has also inspired Halloween masks and even customized Air Jordan sneakers. TMZ reports that Jordan doesn’t have a problem with it, as long as no one uses it to “promote their commercial interests.” But what if he changed his mind or someone started using it for commercial gain? Could Jordan protect himself against “unauthorized memeing”?
Tweet nicely to the Twitter bot, “LnH: The Band”—a newcomer in artificial intelligence music generation—and the bot will automatically compose melodies for you. The AI-based band is “currently working on their first album,” according to LnH Music, but who will own the rights and royalties to the album? Or what about Mubert, which is touted by its creators as the world’s first online music composer, and which “continuously produces music in real-time … based on the laws of musical theory, mathematics and creative experience?” In other words, if a computer program generates a creative work—be it a song, book or other creation—is there a copyright to be owned? If so, who owns and gets to collect on the copyright?
Until recently, social media has been one of the only recourses for fashion designers and labels that have had their designs knocked off. Take the Acquazurra “Wild Thing” sandal, for example. Acquazzura is a high-end shoe brand that designed and released the $785 sandal, identifiable by its “wild” fringe on the toes. Shortly after, Ivanka Trump released the “Hettie” sandal, an almost identical shoe which, priced at $145, was almost $600 less expensive.