The Kardashians Can’t Keep Up With Copyright Law

Khloe Kardashian is the latest Kardashian to find herself in court over her activities on social media. The youngest Kardashian sister was sued by a photographer for copyright infringement in Xposure Photos UK Ltd v Khloe Kardashian et al, 2:17-CV-3088 (C.D. Cal). Xposure alleges that Ms. Kardashian posted a photo it owned on her Instagram without permission and without the copyright attribution notice included on the original. For brands, celebrities, influencers, and others who use social media, particularly to make money or for promotion, this serves as a good reminder that all rights in any photographs, videos, and other content they post on social media must be cleared. Continue Reading

Horseracing-based Fantasy Sports Game Found Illegal

In a follow up to a lawsuit we previously reported on, a California District Court ruled on summary judgment that a horseracing-based fantasy sports game constitutes illegal wagering. Specifically, the court found: the entry fees paid in contests offered by Defendant on its Derby Wars website are wagers under the Interstate Horseracing Act of 1978; Defendant is operating an offtrack betting system as defined in Section 3002(7) of the IHA; and the IHA can serve as a predicate for a California Business and Professions Code Section 17200 claim. Continue Reading

Important Open Source Ruling Confirms Enforceability of Dual-Licensing and Breach of GPL for Failing to Distribute Source Code

A recent federal district court decision denied a motion to dismiss a complaint brought by Artifex Software Inc. (“Artifex”) for breach of contract and copyright infringement claims against Defendant Hancom, Inc. based on breach of an open source software license. The software, referred to as Ghostscript, was dual-licensed under the GPL license and a commercial license. According to the Plaintiff, those seeking to commercially distribute Ghostscript could obtain a commercial license to use, modify, copy, and/or distribute Ghostscript for a fee. Otherwise, the software was available without a fee under the GNU GPL, which required users to comply with certain open-source licensing requirements. The requirements included an obligation to “convey the machine-readable Corresponding Source under the terms of this License” of any covered code. In other words, under the open source license option, certain combinations of proprietary software with Ghostscript are governed by the terms of the GNU GPL. Continue Reading

AR Game Maker Launches First Amendment Challenge

Candy Lab AR, makers of the augmented reality poker game Texas Rope ‘Em, sued Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, over an ordinance alleged to be violating the First Amendment. The ordinance states: “Permits shall be required before any company may introduce a location-based augmented reality game into the Parks…” Continue Reading

Brands Beware!!!! FTC Scrutinizing Influencer Posts for Compliance with Endorsement Guides

In response to a petition from a coalition of consumer groups last year complaining about the need for disclosures by social media influencers, the FTC recently announced on April 19, 2017 that it had issued more than ninety letters reminding influencers and brands that “if there is a ‘material connection’ between an endorser and the marketer of a product – in other words, a connection that might affect the weight or credibility that consumers give the endorsement – that connection should be clearly and conspicuously disclosed, unless the connection is already clear from the context of the communication containing the endorsement.” The FTC explained that material connections could “consist of a business or family relationship, monetary payment, or the provision of free products from the endorser.” A copy of the form of the letter, which explains that clear and conspicuous disclosures are required can be found here. Continue Reading

SNAP IPO Debuts On NYSE

SNAP Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, went public yesterday with a valuation of approximately $33.4 billion. The Company raised $3.4 billion at $17 per share, and is now trading well above the IPO price. While SNAP has reported growing revenues ($404.5 million in 2016, up from $58.7 million in 2015), it has also reported growing net losses ($514.6 million in 2016, up from $372.9 million in 2015).

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Don’t Game Your Players with False Advertising

Advertising for new games can present some troublesome legal issues, if due care is not taken. A recently concluded matter in the UK highlights an example of the potential issues. Hello Games was investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), based on complaints from customers that advertised features of its game (No Man’s Sky) either did not actually appear in the game or did not appear in the way advertised. The ASA ruled, in this case, that the advertising was not in fact legally misleading. Notwithstanding this ruling, game publishers need to be careful when advertising new games.

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Using Hashtag #Disclosures in Social Media Advertising

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has been cracking down on brands for paying Instagram users to endorse their products or to share brand content without disclosing the relationship.  Indeed, the recent settlements entered between the FTC and several media and entertainment companies as well as a specialty retailer make it clear that the FTC is paying close attention to endorsements of all kinds – whether by celebrities, sponsors, or paid “influencers.”

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Don’t Lose Your DMCA Safe Harbor Protection!

The U.S. Copyright Office’s new electronic system for copyright-agent registration and maintenance goes into effect on December 1, 2016, and with it comes new rules. Beginning December 1, all online service providers must submit new designated-agent information to the Copyright Office through the online registration system. Electronic designations should be filed on December 1, 2016, or as soon as possible thereafter. Service providers who fail to timely submit electronic designations will be ineligible for the safe harbor from copyright-infringement liability provided by § 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

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Fantasy Stock Picking Contest Deemed by SEC to be Illegal Security-based Swaps

The SEC shut down a “fantasy” stock picking game for allegedly violating securities laws. Forcerank LLC ran contests via mobile phone games where players paid a fee and predicted the order in which 10 securities would perform relative to each other. In each week-long game, players won points based on the accuracy of their prediction, and players with the most aggregate points received cash prizes at the end of the competition.

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