University of Washington School of Law

The Complex Role of Public Innovation Capital

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By Rob Philbrick

The notion that a state, county, or city should have a limited role in the development of local innovation economies stems from neoclassical economic theory, which advises that competitive markets be left alone so optimal outcomes can occur. I suggest a different notion: public commitment to invest across our local innovation chain is a desirable outcome.

Public investment plays an important role in setting foundations, while private finance is better suited for commercializing the innovative ideas born from these foundations. Neither one acting alone is sufficient. Read More

University of Washington School of Law

Under the Sea, Under the ©? Ninth Circuit Considers Art Inspired by Nature

Folkens (left) vs. Wyland (right)

By Yonah Reback

The intersection of copyright law and the animal kingdom reached new heights during the global phenomenon of Naruto v. Slater. When wildlife photographer David Slater traveled to the jungles of Indonesia in 2011, he surely expected to take snapshots of its native inhabitants. To Slater’s surprise, a macaque nicknamed Naruto grabbed his camera and took what soon became the infamous “monkey selfie.” Thus began a six-year legal saga as to whether Naruto or Slater owned the copyright for the photograph. Although the U.S. Copyright Office indicated that there was no basis for extending copyright ownership to animals, the case—filed by PETA in defense of the monkey—ultimately settled, leaving the public wanting for legal analysis of the issue.

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University of Washington School of Law

Deepfakes – A Disastrous Merger of AI and Porn

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By David O’Hair

First appearing on reddit, a new trend called “deepfakes” has captured the public’s attention with one of the internet’s oldest promises – nude celebrity photos. Intimate celebrity images appearing online is nothing new in and of itself. A 2014 hack exposed hundreds of nude-celebrity images, while Gawker notoriously posted Hulk Hogan’s sex tape.

However, deepfakes present a novel issue in that the images, and often videos, of the celebrities are fake – but the underlying porn is real. Deepfakes use artificial intelligence mixed with facial-mapping software to essentially copy and paste someone’s face into preexisting porn content. The AI-software’s sophistication is such that content created by it, i.e., deepfakes, can be virtually indistinguishable from an authentic porn video featuring a specific celebrity. Celebrities are often the victims of deepfakes, because deepfakes require massive amounts of “raw footage” to import into the pornographic video. Chances are a celebrity has more time collected on video than the average person, but non-public figures can be the victims of deepfakes too. Read More

University of Washington School of Law

Autonomous Driving, Standard

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By Daniel Healow

As in many areas where technology has disrupted the status quo, the availability of automotive safety systems has been generally dictated by the speed of its technological development. However, as these technologies are made available to the public, the law is often called upon to create minimum safety regulations on the back end.

As demonstrated at CES and the Detroit Auto Show in early January, automakers are rapidly increasing their research and development spending and highlighting their autonomous vehicle breakthroughs as they jockey for position in the race to bring a consumer product to market.

In some regions, the general public is already participating in early stage self-driving trips, but autonomous vehicles remain firmly in the product development testing phase across the industry. Some industry observers predict a market for these vehicles to emerge “in a noticeable way” by 2020, but less clear is when they will saturate the driving market. While it’s impossible to predict the exact timing, looking to past adoption of safety technologies may offer some evidence that could indicate an imminent mandate based on patterns of federal regulation. Read More

University of Washington School of Law

Cryptocoins for Copyright: KODAK encourages photographers to forget the middleman

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By CaroLea Casas

We are in the midst of a cryptocurrency frenzy. A series of memes has taken over the internet in recent months—all about Bitcoin. Some economists have considered whether the cryptocurrency market is a harbinger of yet another devastating economic debt bubble.  In a comment to Fortune, Meltem Demirors, the director of Digital Currency Group, explained the widespread interest simply: “We are going through the biggest wealth generation opportunity of the century, and people want to participate.”

Demirors’ comment rings true. From the businesses rebranding to offer coin, to the investors looking for legitimate opportunities to get in on the ground level, to the federal agencies ensuring compliance with securities law, everyone seems to have an interest. And of those rebranding companies, one sits right at the crossover between technology and art. That company is Eastman Kodak. Read More