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The Internet of Things does not have to be Skynet to threaten us humans; perhaps tired of defeating carbon-based Go and chess masters, Google’s DeepMind pits its AI agents against each other; exactly when will AR and VR be fully embraced; and more …

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Last month, a New York trial court dismissed a complaint against Donald J. Trump and others brought by political consultant and commentator Cheryl Jacobus that alleged, in part, a defamation claim (libel) based on tweets by Trump. While the case is notable because it involves Trump and his penchant for tweeting personal attacks, it is also notable because it provides additional guidance on how the courts are handling defamation claims based on statements made via Twitter (and other social media networks).

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Did you know that your devices are following you and talking amongst themselves? Creepy, right? From ordering products from your smartphone that you added to your shopping cart on your laptop’s browser to streaming a movie from your smartphone that you didn’t finish watching on your desktop, our online and mobile devices have integrated themselves into our lives and taken liberties that may not be apparent to us.

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CBP_DHSlogo-300x246At the end of 2016, the U.S. Customs Border Protection (CBP) implemented a rule to include questions concerning social media accounts of travelers to the United States during the Visa Waiver Program screening process (VWP). The VWP permits citizens of 38 countries to visit the United States for up to 90 days without having to obtain a visa. ESTA is the automated system that determines the eligibility of travelers entering through the VWP. Now, in addition to collecting biographical information from a traveler, CBP will request social media identifiers of travelers during the ESTA application process for vetting purposes. Continue reading →

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ChipotleBecause celebrities closely guard their names and likenesses, lawsuits claiming high-dollar amounts for violations of those rights are not unusual. But a lawsuit for $2.2 billion dollars for a non-celebrity claiming a restaurant improperly co-opted her photograph for an ad campaign? That’s rare. At year’s end, just before the expiration of the statute of limitations, a Sacramento woman named Leah Caldwell sued Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill, the company’s photographer, and Chipotle’s chief executive officer in just such a suit. In doing so, Caldwell showed that you don’t have to be famous to think your face is worth a billion dollars. But is it?

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HuluAs more and more content that has traditionally only been offered over-the-air, through cable, or on satellite becomes increasingly available via the internet, television content providers must take care in scrutinizing their existing broadcasting agreements to avoid potential conflicts with their current distribution affiliates. Although the internet offers content creators the ability to distribute media directly to their audiences, television networks will face a host of issues if they are not careful in structuring their approach to this new media paradigm.

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holding-dear-ivanka-300x300Much has been written about how the Trump family uses their name to market their own businesses, but the Trumps are equally gifted at trading on others’ notoriety to promote themselves and their businesses. Consider the tweets or public disclosures that follow after the President-elect appears with or receives correspondence from celebrities (à la Floyd Mayweather, Kanye West, Bill Belichick, etc.). But what happens when a celebrity or, as the case may be, an artist, has not consented to be a part of a social media post promoting a Trump brand? As Ivanka Trump is learning (again), use of an artist’s work without their permission can ignite social media firestorms and raise intellectual property issues.

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Virtual reality takes to the air and rests beneath your feet, a smart toy and a weaponized GIF inspire lawsuits (separately), Slack invests in bots, and more!

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ashley-madison-300x200On December 14, 2016, operators of online extramarital dating and social networking website AshleyMadison.com came to an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission, and several States, to settle FTC and related state charges that the website deceived consumers and failed to protect 36 million users’ account and profile information. As we discussed immediately following the July 2015 breach (and in several later posts) the data of some 36 million AshleyMadison.com accounts was posted online. It was reported by KrebsOnSecurity that the breach included the theft of user databases, financial records (including salary information), and other records from AshleyMadison, Cougar Life, and Established Men, three social networking web sites operated by the Toronto, Canada-based firm Avid Life Media, now known as Ruby Corp.

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Worried about a company retaliating against you when you post a negative review on Yelp or TripAdvisor? Worry no longer because Congress has your back. Last week, Congress passed a law that will make it illegal for companies to retaliate against U.S. consumers who post negative reviews online.

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