CommerceGovernment and RegulationTechnologyUniversity 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

ArtsIntellectual PropertyLitigationUniversity 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.

Now, a Ninth Circuit copyright case provides further proof that one can’t hold a copyright on elements found in nature. In September 2014, Peter A. Folkens, a “world-renowned wildlife artist, illustrator, photographer, researcher, and author,” filed suit alleging that famed marine life painter Robert Wyland infringed his copyright on a pen and ink illustration entitled “Two Dolphins.” According to court filings, “Two Dolphins” is a black and white depiction of two dolphins crossing each other, one swimming vertically and the other swimming horizontally. Wyland’s painting, “Life in the Living Sea,” depicted an underwater scene consisting of three dolphins, two of which are crossing, various fish, and aquatic plants. Folkens alleged that Wyland’s painting constituted an unauthorized copy of “Two Dolphins” because the scenes they depicted were substantially similar.   Read More

EntertainmentGovernment and RegulationPrivacyUniversity 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

TechnologyUniversity 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

ArtsCommerceEntertainmentIntellectual PropertyUniversity of Washington School of Law

Cryptocoins for Copyright: KODAK encourages photographers to forget the middleman

Kodak Roll Photography Film Negative Old Retro

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

Intellectual PropertypatentsSupreme CourtTechnologyUniversity of Washington School of Law

Pay-to-Play for Sovereign Immunity? A New Strategy Employed by Drug Patent Holders

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By Seth Parent

In May the Supreme Court decided TC Heartland, requiring patent infringement claims be brought where the defendant either “resides” or has an “established place of business” (rather than in the notoriously patent-holder friendly Eastern District of Texas). This change has led patent-holding companies to search for new strategies to increase the efficiency of their business model, and in turn, their profits.

These patent-holding companies, or “patent trolls,” as they are often referred to, may have just unveiled one such strategy. Following news of Allergan’s announcement that it was transferring title of six different pharmaceutical patents to the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe in September, patent holding company SRC Labs has now elected to pursue a similar strategy. Not only did these deals transfer the patents to the St. Regis tribe, they also provided the tribe with several million dollars upfront in addition to several million per annum. Read More

CommerceGovernment and RegulationLitigationSupreme CourtUniversity of Washington School of Law

Kill Quill: Volume 2

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By Michael Rebagliati

2017 ended with a legislative bang as Congressional Republicans (rapidly) passed the most sweeping overhaul of the tax code in a generation. For many tax lawyers, 2018 has begun with a whimper as they scramble to understand what this means for their clients.

And yet, another major change to U.S. tax law still looms on the policy horizon. But this time, the change is coming not from Congress, but from the Supreme Court. On January 12th, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in the case of South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. Read More