Category Archives: e-Commerce

The Case of the Monkey Selfie

Here’s the story: back in 2011, this monkey gets hold of a photographer’s camera (there are multiple versions of how the monkey actually got the camera, so we will just state the fact we do know for certain – it ended up with the camera) and starts snapping pics of itself. The owner of the camera, David Slater, claims a copyright in the resulting photos and demands that Wikipedia take them down. So, who owns the pic? The owner of the camera, or the photographer (regardless of species) who actually took the picture? Copyright 101 – the creator of the …

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Bitcoin and the Changing Legal Landscape

If your business is contemplating doing something with digital currencies (meaning virtual currencies, like Bitcoin, Ripple, Ethereum, etc.), you need a plan. First, consider how and where your business will use digital currencies. Second, know what laws and regulations apply. Third, implement a compliance plan to ensure your business doesn’t run afoul of the law. Fourth, stick to your plan. This fourth step can be difficult to follow, particularly if your business is a startup trying to quickly establish itself and gain a foothold in the fast-paced, evolving online marketplace. You may think implementing a compliance plan will cost you …

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Congress Acts to Ban Gag Clauses in Consumer Contracts

There is not a lot that all members of the U.S. Senate can agree on these days, but protecting the ability of consumers to write reviews of businesses is apparently an issue on which there is unanimity. First some background. From Yelp, to TripAdvisor, to Angie’s List, no one can deny the impact “ratings” websites have had on businesses (including lawyers). It is often the first – and sometimes the last – place consumers go before making a purchasing decision. For this reason, businesses have a long history of attempting to prevent consumers from posting potentially negative reviews on ratings …

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How Does Your Terms of Service Agreement Rate?

Online terms of service agreements are the rarely-read but often-mocked daily annoyance of Internet users worldwide.  A large (literally) barrier to the immediate gratification of access to online content, most of us are guilty of blindly clicking “I accept” when prompted.  We do this, often with a very limited understanding that in exchange for “businesses giv[ing us] these fantastic services, Google Search, Facebook and many other things, for free[,]” we give those businesses information they then commercialize by, for example, selling to advertisers.  Often unknown to us is exactly what information we are giving, who is seeing it, or how …

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What We Know About BitCoin, and What Is Still Unknown (Part II)

In Part I, we gave an overview of Bitcoin and how it’s different from the digital “real currency” that is in widespread use today.  In Part II, we’ll ask and answer the question – Is Bitcoin just a fad?  Is it novel in concept, but not particularly advantageous for the average person, or does it have staying power? Regardless of what you might think about Bitcoin today, its strongest proponents and harshest critics agree on one thing – Bitcoin and its underlying blockchain technology cannot be ignored.  Major players in the financial industry and tech industry are pouring significant money …

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What We Know About BitCoin, and What Is Still Unknown (Part I)

It’s no surprise that, as the way we exchange information continues to evolve at an ever-increasing pace, the way we exchange value is rapidly evolving too.  This two-part series explores the Bitcoin evolution occurring in the world of electronic payments. In today’s business environment, we already mostly exchange value digitally—with payment cards or mobile apps linked to our bank accounts.  Most of the world’s wealth is accounted for by 1s and 0s in computer files, not coins and bills.  As the Internet and mobile converge, paying with physical currency and checks with perforated edges is less and less common. Many …

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The ABCs of COPPA Compliance

In today’s environment – when data breaches seem to be in the news nearly every day – the media, regulators and many others are hyper-focused on privacy issues. Schools and educational institutions are no exception when it comes to news stories highlighting privacy-related goofs or failures. In K-12 institutions, where privacy infrastructure is often lacking or even non-existent, privacy concerns are especially acute. There is little doubt that Internet and online technologies used inside and outside of classrooms have changed how our children learn. There is a federal privacy law – The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act – that …

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Somebody’s Watching You: What Are the Rules?

In 1984, Kennedy William Gordy, better known as pop artist Rockwell, released his first and ultimately biggest hit: Somebody’s Watching Me.  One can only imagine how Rockwell would have felt if the Internet was in full swing when he sang about his fears. Our behavior on the Internet is of great interest to many different people, including advertisers. They want to know what sites we visit, in part, to provide targeted ads. In other countries, it is common for governments to require that consumers opt-in to user tracking and targeting. But in the United States, several advertising industry associations, supported …

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Should Feds Regulate Persistent Identifiers as Personal Information?

Recently, the Federal Trade Commission settled an action it had brought against Nomi Technologies, a provider of “in-store analytics” technology. The fact that the action was brought against Nomi to begin with, considering what Nomi does, and the 20-year consent decree that Nomi entered into with the FTC, has raised more than a few eyebrows. It has left many – including some of the FTC’s own Commissioners – wondering just what regulators are interested in when it comes to controlling information collection practices in the “information economy.” Nomi has developed and markets technology to retailers that helps to physically track …

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Do You Have The Right To Be Forgotten?

Most of us want to be remembered. But, depending on their past, some people want to be forgotten – or at least they want some of their past deeds to be forgotten. But do you have a right to be forgotten? In the United States, the answer is . . . “maybe, depending on where and how old you are.” If you’re in Europe, it appears that there is a growing consensus that the answer is “definitely.” The cross-continent debate started in 2010, but it has recently heated up. In order to understand the arguments, some background is helpful. European …

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