The March 21st passing of the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) has dramatically altered the rules of engagement for social media companies. The new law amends and clarifies that the Communications Decency Act of 1996 was never intended to legally protect websites that unlawfully promote and facilitate prostitution and human trafficking or websites that should have known their platform was being utilized for such activities. The bill also creates new areas of civil liabilities for companies and necessitates more active monitoring of online accounts. In their recent Client Alert, colleagues William M. Sullivan, Jr. and Fabio Leonardi examine the immediate and future ramifications of the bill.
Social media companies like Facebook and Twitter have written “white papers” and devoted considerable resources to projects intended to create services that encourage trust and a sense of familiarity on the part of users. Messages, photos and personal information are easily shared with groups of friends and co-workers, or in response to solicitations tailored to a user’s trusted brands, thus creating an environment of perceived safety and intimacy among users. However this communal atmosphere can be, and often is, exploited by “black hat” hackers and malware that lurk behind a façade of trust. In its April 27, 2017 White Paper entitled “Information Operations and Facebook,” and its September 6, 2017 “An Update on Information Operations on Facebook,” the company noted that there are, “three major features of online information operations that we assess have been attempted on Facebook.” Those features include: (1) targeted data collection such as hacking or spearfishing; (2) content creation including the creation of false personas and memes; and (3) false amplification by creating false accounts or using bots to spread memes and false content which, in turn sow mistrust in political institutions and spread confusion. Ironically, these techniques used to spread “fake news” and malware designed to amplify divisive social and political messages, are enhanced and made effective by the very environment of trust cultivated by social media sites.
For all the talk of artificial intelligence and the benefits to be found in the related field of machine learning, there are also plenty of practical issues that companies on both sides of the vendor/client relationship will need to resolve. Our colleague Kelley D. Bledsoe recently examined one of these questions in her post, “Come Harvest Time, Who Owns the Fruits of Machine Learning” on Pillsbury’s SourcingSpeak blog.
What is it worth to be able to block employees from using social media while on the job? And how should one determine that value, exactly? While it might be easy to determine the value of a stand-alone invention, it is much more difficult to determine the value an invention that is embedded within a complex product that itself has many parts and does many different things. Patent damages case law is in flux, and every court opinion regarding how to apportion and value inventions merits careful studying. A recent case demonstrates the perils of using faulty methodology to determine the value of patented software-based inventions.
We have previously examined the evolving role of the hashtag in intellectual property law, particularly trademark law. While the nuances of the symbol’s existence and use protections continue to be ironed out by the courts and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the hashtag has quickly become a ubiquitous tool on social media. It is no surprise the legal field is utilizing the empowered hashtag to connect members of the industry, particularly on Twitter. Using #legal or #LawTwitter hashtags on social media has created informal “groups” of lawyers, judges and other legal practitioners who provide support, feedback and criticisms of its members (and others) on a variety of topics.
If there’s a golden rule for the online age we live in, it’s “Always assume anything you post online will be visible to all.” Just like the original Golden Rule, it’s a maxim ignored often enough to bear repeating and frequent illustration. With that in mind, let’s check in on recent developments regarding social media revealing details its users would rather conceal—bankruptcy edition.
Recent developments in deep learning artificial intelligence have enabled almost anyone to superimpose facial features—including an entirely different face—into a preexisting video with relatively minimal effort. Until very recently, editing facial features in a video has been incredibly difficult. Even movie studios with access to professional video editing tools have struggled with the task as recently as in 2017, when actor Henry Cavill—portraying everyone’s favorite son of Krypton—sported a mustache he was contractually unable to remove during reshoots, leading to a widely criticized post-production digital shave. Because of the inherent difficulty in convincingly manipulating video to appear realistic, the public has widely been trusting of video’s authenticity while viewing still photos more skeptically. With recent developments in artificial intelligence, this thinking must now change.
Artificial intelligence is a transformative technology–or existential threat, depending on what futurist/sci-fi author you read–that will leave few if any industries untouched when all is said and done. Still, no matter how transformed your particular business landscape, most companies that decide they need to employ AI probably won’t be AI companies themselves, which means using third-party vendors. Colleagues Tim Wright and Antony Bott have prepared some pointers on how to maximize the benefits when dealing with such vendors while minimizing the downsides (and cutting through the sales hype) on Pillsbury’s Sourcing Speak blog. “How to Buy AI: Ten Top Tips for Buying Automation Technologies” looks at some key best practices to adopt when structuring and negotiating your AI contracts.
Three years after Elon Musk announced in his famous “All Our Patent Are Belong To You” blog post that Tesla would be opening all of its patents to the public, he tweeted a recommendation of Max Tegmark’s recent book Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence—which just happens to allude to a not-too-distant future world in which, based on current patent law, all inventions might be free and open to the public. In this story, superhuman general artificial intelligence is secretly created by humans, and its creation began the end of human invention.