Why Amazon Will Not Get in Trouble For Your Review, But You Might

Posted By: Julia Ketchum

yelpToday, many sites, including Amazon, Yelp, Ebay, Redbox, and Internet Movie Database have user reviews rate anything and everything – products, services, etc. These reviews are often helpful. A bad review can save you from watching a horrible film or doing business with a horrible company. However, the business with the bad review will likely get upset and try to do something to silence the critic. Who is responsible for the bad review: the internet service provider or the user who wrote the review? In this post, we will talk about 47 U.S.C. § 230 of the Communications Decency Act and Kimzey v. Yelp. In conclusion, the OSP (online service provider) will not be considered responsible, but the user can be liable for defamation. Although the user might be liable, we will end with the many reasons a law suit is unlikely and how to avoid a law suit altogether.

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Fanfication and The New Religion: The Legend of Zelda as a Representative Model of Democratizing Copyright into Monomyth

Posted by: Drew Weigel

33477550306_345ee30b37_bThere has been a lot of online discussion surrounding The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The discussion is intense partly because the franchise has a massive fanbase, but partly because it marks one of the grandest design achievements in the gaming industry. It is even more interesting as a microcosm of the greater internet culture, representing but one evolutionary symbiosis between creators and consumers. Fans have argued for years over whether an “official timeline” unites the games, but few realize that in a digital era it is the fans themselves which assemble these monomyths and guide the expansion of fictional universes. At what point does a shared legend become sacred mythology, and a fandom become a religion? L. Ron Hubbard and George Lucas were just the beginning.

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The Rising Jurisdictional Problem of International Companies

Posted by: Michael Avila

April 20, 2015

InternetAs access to the Internet has grown to include almost half of the world’s population in its user base, the chances of websites and the companies owning them running awry of laws not inside that of its home country have grown much larger and more concerning. Google has had many conflicts with China in the recent years due to China’s censorship laws, and as recently as 2014 Google’s gmail service had its access blocked in mainland China. As companies like Google grow and begin having a more substantial presence in countries outside of the U.S. they will likely have to learn how to bow to pressure and possibly fragment their services in order to comply with the laws of local jurisdictions. Continue reading

Is the Archive Button Sending the Wrong Message?

Posted by Collin Gaines

April 20, 2015


In 2007, Google rolled out the “archive and next” shortcut in Gmail “to help improve the speed and convenience of managing email.” Merriam-Webster definition of archive is “to collect and store materials (such as recordings, documents, or computer files) so that they can be found and used when they are needed.” Therefore, the average person would conceivably believe that once emails are archived they are stored for backup purposes only.

Accordingly, when a message in Gmail is “archived” the message is removed from the inbox tab but not deleted or removed entirely. By archiving the messages, users perceive that their inbox is void of such messages but the emails are indeed still in storage and can be easily retrieved. Interestingly, it is possible to “archive” messages that have been read and unread messages as well. Users may retrieve messages by accessing the “All Mail” tab, or if someone responds to an archived message. Because archived messages seem as though they have been deleted and can only be retrieved in limited inboxes or responses, not only is Google’s “archive” label likely to confuse the a person of average sensibilities but it may also confuse someone who is familiar with the Stored Communications Act. Continue reading

Surveillance through the Internet

Posted by Angelica J. Simpson

April 17, 2015


EFF_version_of_NSA_logoOver the past few years there has been headlines making their way claiming the governments gross overreach in surveillance. Stories that the FBI can hack into your computer, or that NSA is gathering everyone’s phone records, down to tracking capabilities through GOOGLE Maps apps and technology. But just how true are these headlines? Does American law allows for and even facilitates the ability for the government to use technology to track and spy on people? The reality of it seems to be that while the law allows for some surveillance, it also constrains the power as well. Continue reading

Does Unlocking On-Disc DLC Violate the Anti-Circumvention Provision of the DMCA?

Posted by: Kyle Sol Johnson

April 20, 2015

dmcaIncreasingly videogames are released alongside downloadable content (DLC) the adds some aspect or function to the underlying game. These may be packs of maps, new zones, new weapons and armors, or even entirely new missions. Often it is a combination of the above. Traditionally, DLC is offered some months, or even years when it comes to expansion packs, after the release of the original game. However, many games of late have been released alongside so-called Day One DLC that is immediately available for purchase when the underlying game is released. Some videogame developers have taken this a step further, including unlockable content on the original game disc itself and later selling consumers a key that will allow them to access the encrypted data.

This ‘disc-locked content’ has drawn copious amounts of ire and criticism from consumers and game journalists. Consumers feel that they have paid for the disc and should thus have access to everything on it as the owners thereof. These consumers claim that disabling the encryption to gain access to the locked content constitutes a fair use because it is a noncommercial use under §107 of the Copyright Act. Continue reading

Music Industry Moves to Shape Copyright Reform

Posted by: Angelica J. Simpson

April 17, 2015


197px-Copyright.svgWith the onset of Internet and streaming radio programs emerging on the scene, stakeholders in the entertainment industry have demanded change to longstanding Copyright laws of the United States. As the digital age changes faster than the laws that regulate the way we access music, those involved in producing and broadcasting the music millions of people globally listen to are demanding change to meet the needs of today. From royalties that are paid, how music is accessed, and recorded, to broadcasting licensing and digital sampling by other artists, there is a strong cry for help to address the issues that are developing. The one thing that is certain is change needs to happen, how to get there is fiercely debated. Continue reading

The California Revenge Porn Law is a Step in the Right Direction Toward a Means of Internet Regulation, but How Well Can it be Enforced in that Realm?

Posted By: Paul Isso

Photo from Coolcaesar at en.wikipedia

Photo from Coolcaesar at en.wikipedia

Today the most common ways of distributing photos are by posting them online or sharing them through text messages. With the number of social networking sites and innumerable number of users today, it makes you wonder how state and federal governments can feasibly regulate content that is posted to the Internet. Well, California seems to be trying to do something to answer that question. Actually, they’ve already done something.

According to the October 3rd DecodedScience.com article California Enacts Senate Bill 255: Distributing Photos After Breakup Now Illegal, on October 1st, 2013, Senate bill 255 was signed into law by California Governor Jerry Brown (Source: http://www.decodedscience.com/california-enacts-new-law-revenge-porn/37652). Essentially, this new law criminalizes the distribution of a nude or partially nude photo of another without their consent with the intent to cause emotional distress, with that resulting (Source: http://www.decodedscience.com/california-enacts-new-law-revenge-porn/37652). Continue reading