According to press reports, German car giant Volkswagen has banned its employees from using the wildly popular smartphone app Pokémon GO during work hours. Reportedly, the company cited impaired attention and distraction from work as the primary grounds for the prohibition, but data security and privacy issues are supposedly involved as well. Volkswagen has not yet made an official statement on the ban.

This app in particular and augmented reality in general pose many legal questions, especially, in the field of privacy law. The most pressing privacy issue with Pokémon GO seems to be the constant tracking of geolocation data. By agreeing to the Pokémon GO Privacy Policy, the user allows Niantic, the company behind the app, to track the user’s “device location […] and some of that location information, along with [the] user name” any time he or she uses the app. Continue Reading ‘Pokémon GO’ and Privacy Issues

It is only one example of many, but it grasps the very essence of the issue: In 2013, a New York City coffee shop owner got a tattoo on his right hand saying “I [coffee cup] NY.” Cool, if you are a tattoo fan who also loves coffee. Then he started using an illustration of his tattooed hand as a logo for his shop. Not cool, if you are the New York State Department of Economic Development, which served him with a cease-and-desist letter. In the eyes of the state agency, the use of the tattoo design on the shop’s window was less a reference or a tribute to the famous “I love NY” slogan but rather a plain case of trademark infringement.

Yes, copyright and trademark issues may even emerge from someplace as personal as your skin and the ink decorating it. But there is more to the story. Continue Reading Tattoo Copyright Cases Give an Inkling of What’s to Come

A Spanish man using the pseudonym “Frikidoctor” has been posting videos to a major video-sharing web site that detail the events of several upcoming episodes of a popular medieval fantasy TV series, including some key plot twists. Frikidoctor’s video “predictions” (which later turned out to be remarkably accurate) were also translated to English and posted to Reddit. At some point, the videos had been taken down from the web site, marked with “copyright claim by [a major cable TV network].” Reportedly, the network is asserting that these videos are infringing on its copyright even if some of the videos do not contain any actual video footage or stills from their hit series. After the videos were removed, Redditors began fervent discussions about whether or not the network was entitled to remove those videos. Some legal experts claim that by giving detailed plot information, one could possibly be liable for copyright infringement. This is, however, not clear. Interestingly, the web site has since restored the videos. Continue Reading Cable TV Network Has Show Spoilers Removed from Video-Sharing Web Site—Are Plot Elements Copyrightable?

Snapchat, the fast-growing social media network/messaging app, has spawned some controversy over how copyright law is interpreted in the United Kingdom. In a recent Q&A session with members of Parliament, the British government was asked whether it will take steps to prevent Snapchat images from being made public without the image owner’s consent. In his written response dated 24 March 2016, the Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy, Ed Vaizey, answered that “[u]nder UK copyright law, it would be unlawful for a Snapchat user to copy an image and make it available to the public without the consent of the image owner. The image owner would be able to sue anyone who does this for copyright infringement.” Continue Reading Screenshotting in Snapchat – Copyright Law Concerns

Taking pictures of food and sharing them online through social media has become a new cultural phenomenon. The trend has become so popular that entire blogs and YouTube channels are now devoted to food photography. A recently published article in the German Daily Newspaper Die Welt has, however, spawned some debate whether taking a picture of an elaborately arranged dish and posting it online might be illegal in the sense that it infringes copyright. According to a lawyer cited in that article, food arrangements are, in principle, copyrightble. If this was in fact the case, posting food images to social media without permission could constitute an unauthorized derivative use of a copyrighted work. Continue Reading Food Plating and Copyright – Can Instagramming Your Meal Be Construed as Copyright Infringement?

The right to televise sporting events is one of the most valuable commodities in the broadcasting sector. When reports surfaced that live-streaming apps, such as Periscope and Meerkat, had been used to transmit live streams of the “fight of the century” between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao on 2 May 2015, they raised the issue of the copyright implications of these kinds of applications. Continue Reading Live-Streaming Apps and Sporting Events – Copyright Law Concerns

The social media platform Twitter has been reportedly removing tweets at the request of users who believe their content has been wrongfully appropriated. According to Twitter user @PlagiarismBad, Twitter replaced the text of those tweets with an explanation that the tweets were “withheld in response to a report from the copyright holder”. This raises the issue of the extent to which retweeting a message on Twitter can actually be construed as copyright infringement. In its Copyright and DMCA policy, Twitter states that it “will respond to reports of alleged copyright infringement, such as allegations concerning the unauthorized use of a copyrighted image as a profile photo, header photo, or background, allegations concerning the unauthorized use of a copyrighted video or image uploaded through our media hosting services, or Tweets containing links to allegedly infringing materials.” However, Twitter did not specifically include the written word within these Guidelines. Continue Reading Tweets Reported as Infringing Copyright Deleted by Twitter – Are Tweets Copyrightable?

On 16 June 2015, the European Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee adopted a report reviewing the EU’s legislative framework in the area of copyright law. The original draft of the report, authored by German Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda, has been subject to various amendments. One amendment that has spawned considerable debate concerns the so called freedom of panorama exception. Continue Reading New EU Parliament Report to Restrict Freedom of Panorama Exception