My experience as a healthcare guy in Silicon Valley seems well described by the technology “hype cycle” – a jolt of excitement when I arrived, thrilled to be immersed in the scene, taking me to the “peak of inflated expectations,” followed by the “trough of disillusionment” as I became better at separating out mythology from achievement.
They’re already famous. But these celebrities want to invest in, learn about, or just schmooze with tech start-ups. Tech start-ups also often seek celebrity users, who draw in a large mainstream audience. Some are active on web services like Twitter, while others actually show up at tech industry events.
Here’s some good fun. In fact, it’s practically becoming a national pastime: The demonization of Big Tech has reached a fever pitch this week. As we gathered our thoughts, collaborator Tom Lowery and I mulled over a few of the headlines of an eventful week in large tech:
In a big win for athletes and entertainers everywhere, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled yesterday in Hart v. Electronic Arts that the First Amendment does not definitively protect Electronic Arts’s unlicensed use of college football players’ likenesses in commercial video games — not even where the video games include creative elements apart from the players’ likenesses.
This decision overturns an earlier opinion by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey that had held Electronic Arts’s use of college athletes’ likenesses in its NCAA Football video games was insulated from liability by the First Amendment due to the games’ inclusion of creative elements unrelated to player avatars, as well as due to a feature that allows users to alter avatar appearances.
In reversing the lower court decision, the appellate court explained that “n artist depicting a celebrity must contribute something more than a ‘merely trivial’ variation” to benefit from First Amendment protection. In addition, the court found the variation required for First Amendment protection must be to the celebrity’s likeness itself, and not exclusively to background elements.
The court further went on to explain that “to hold otherwise could have deleterious consequences blatant misappropriation would count for nothing so long as the larger work, on balance, created highly creative elements in great abundance.”
For recent college football players, this ruling was very much a win, as it opens the doors to the possibility of sharing revenues from the NCAA Football video game series with both Electronic Arts and the NCAA. In addition, this ruling may partially offset a current injustice where ”the NCAA shamelessly licenses its intellectual property rights to video game publishers ” but at the same time “prevents publishers from negotiating directly with college athletes to acquire rights to use their likenesses.”
In addition, yesterday’s ruling provides an important win for professional athletes and entertainers that wish to preserve control over the use of their likenesses. Indeed, yesterday’s ruling makes it far more difficult for video game manufacturers to use the unlicensed likenesses of singers and dancers in musical video games — claiming as a defense that the avatars of these entertainers appear alongside a fictional backdrop and are mutable by their users.
At the same time, yesterday’s ruling also makes it less likely that a video game manufacturer could successfully use the likenesses of professional athletes without a license and then then hide behind the same First Amendment defense argued in Hart.
Perhaps, this would have been the logical next step had the district court’s ruling in Hart not reversed.
Marc Edelman is an incoming Associate Professor of Law at the Zicklin School of Business, and a Summer Adjunct Professor at Fordham Law School. In addition, he serves as a legal consultant on sports law, antitrust, gaming law and intellectual property matters.
Hewlett-Packard just did something that practically defies the laws of physics: it reported a 10% revenue decline for its fiscal second quarter, ended April 30, along with correspondingly soft earnings — yet saw its stock rocket ahead 13%, to $24.10, in after-hours trading. The quick explanation was that relieved investors had been braced for even worse results. But there’s more to the story.
It looks like we’re going to see a lot more graphically rich and 3D games on our smartphones over the next few months as Unity CEO David Helgason announced that the popular rendering engine is now covered by a free licence for developers.
No person or company wants to be accused of skirting tax obligations. Yet despite Joe Biden?s ?paying higher taxes is patriotic? gaffe, paying too much could make you a chump. When Mitt Romney tried to stem the tide of negative tax press by forgoing deductions, he was derided for that too. See Romney Paid 14% in Taxes This Year but Could Have Paid Less. All the way around, taxes make a poor spectator sport.
A small study is raising big questions about whether statins may blunt the beneficial effects of exercise. The study has been published online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and was the subject of a New York Times blog today.
Electric car-maker Tesla Motors wired almost half a billion dollars to the U.S. government on Wednesday, erasing the remaining balance on its 2010 taxpayer loan and sidestepping a continuing controversy over the Obama Administration’s support for a handful of companies pursuing green-car development.
I kicked off a conversation with Dan Holden, Director ASERT, at Arbor Networks by asking him about the Mandiant APT1 Report that was generating a lot of buzz at this year’s RSA Conference. Dan emphasized the benefit to the community of security researchers that resulted; especially the second part of the APT1 Report that enumerated the IP addresses and key indicators of compromise that Mandiant had collected. Within hours of publication open source and commercial products had incorporated that data into their tools.
I suspect it is because of my “green” background that people assume I will find alternative-energy devices exciting. From the H2 electric toy car to a flashlight you shake to make light, my family has bought me all kinds of eco-friendly toys over the years that have gone largely unused and unappreciated (not very green or grateful of me). Now that I blog on green living and technology, novel green gadgets find their way to my desk on a fairly regular basis. Few of them hold my attention, but when I saw the WakaWaka Power, billed as the “industry-leading solar smartphone charger using a sustainable business model for eradicating energy poverty in our lifetime” it sparked my interest.
In the ongoing tussle between consumer privacy and pointed in-store sales efforts, mobile-retail marketing platform provider Swirl thinks its found the answer. Today, the company launched the first software platform designed to proffer micro-targeted digital content and deliver real-time, personalized offers right to shoppers’ smartphones while browse. Among the early adopters: Alex and Ani, Timberland, and Kenneth Cole in New York and Boston.