Apple Music versus Spotify

Apple Music versus Spotify

Apple is perhaps one of the most popular and successful companies in the world right now. However, this may come at a price. Several months ago we heard about Apple versus Samsung. After the San Bernadino shooting, we heard about Apple taking on the Federal Government. Now, there is something else Apple can add its its list, Apple versus Spotify. Spotify, the music streaming service, says Apple is making it harder for the company to compete by blocking a new version of its iPhone app. Apple cited “business model rules” when rejecting Spotify’s app and said they would approve it if Spotify agreed to use Apple’s billing system. Spotify claims the real reason Apple is not allowing their app to be accessible for users it because they are attempting to promote Apple Music, which launched June 2015 and has not been too successful. They believe Apple is using the App Store as a weapon to harm its competitors.

Spotify is not alone in claiming that Apple’s subscription policies punish third-party music services that use Apple’s platform. Many other music streaming services have complained about the same thing. Apple’s comment about the billing system may also be an attempt for the company to make more money. Apple charges a monthly billing fee of up to 30% for those who use its billing system. These policies were introduced in 2011 and after much hesitation, most publishers agreed to them. If Apple does not change its App store policies, Spotify has no real market to go to in order to sell to iPhone users. Having only Android users may not be enough for the company to thrive. Spotify, possibly knowing that they would have problems with Apple in the future, started asking users to visit their website to get a three months of service for $0.99 in Fall 2015. In June 2016, Spotify revived its offer for new users. Although Spotify did not promote this offer, they turned off the App store billing option. This is what really started the dispute.

Spotify published the letter it wrote for the public to see and even handed it out to members of Congress. Spotify is powerful voice in the streaming media market. In June 2016, Apple Music had 15 million paid subscribers, while Spotify has 30 million. This may be one reason for Apple to take a step back and consider what they are requiring of Spotify. Both Apple and the music streaming service declined to comment on the debate over the App store billing option. We look forward to seeing how this debate unfolds.

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Source referenced: Recode

Toronto Band Finds New Way to Protect Music

Bitcoin blockchains will also store music now. 22HERTZ, an industrial rock band from Toronto, will be encoding their new single into the Bitcoin blockchain. The band had attempted to gain a copyright for a single they worked on with Yoad Nevo, but ran into problems while doing so. The copyright issued only covered the title of the song, not the lyrics or the melody. The band was not satisfied with this and continued to search for new ways to protect their song. 22HERTZ then though of encoding it in the Bitcoin blockchain. Ralf Muller sat down for an interview with Coin Telegraph to explain why his band took the Bitcoin route.

Muller said two words explained why his band went with Bitcoin blockchain instead of the copyright they were issued: free and absolute. Muller said only protecting the title of their song was not enough. It was very disheartening for his band to learn that his song wasn’t truly protected and they continued to look at their options. Muller said he has previously heard of a book being “hashed into” a blockchain and the idea had been at the back of his mind since then. The interviewer also asked Muller very technical questions about the “hasting route” and “OP_RETURN limits” on the blockchain. Muller admitted to not knowing much about the blockchain, but he did say he feels comfortable using Bitcoin because he knows his music cannot be changed. When asked about his band accepting Bitcoins through their online store, Muller said he would do anything to help destroy the greatest evil on this planet, the Federal Reserve System. Muller believes that more musicians will move towards accepting Bitcoins for sales of albums and merchandise in the future.

Muller may be correct about the expanded use of Bitcoin blockchains in the future. Each bitcoin transaction contains a two-part script before the transaction is verified and accepted. Not only is Bitcoin able to encode songs, it can also code small data like texts and images. The largest advantage of Bitcoin, as Muller mentioned, is that the power of the network makes it impossible for anyone to change the information encoded in the blockchain. This may be very attractive to musicians and artists in the future. We hope this post has helped our readers understand why musicians are turning to Bitcoin blockchains to “copyright” their lyrics and melodies.

Source referenced: Coin Telegraph

The Landmark Case of Riley v. California

The Landmark Case of Riley v. California

This Supreme Court case from 2014 brought the Fourth Amendment into the digital age. David Leon Riley belonged to a gang in San Diego, California. In August of 2009, Riley and other gang members opened fire on a rival gang member while driving past him. Everyone fled in Riley’s car. A few weeks later, Riley was pulled over for an expired license registration tag in a different vehicle. Riley’s license turned out to be suspended and his car was going to have to be impounded. According to police policy, a car must be searched for all of its inventory to protect against the police department from liability claims  in the future. During the search, the police located two guns and arrested Riley for possession of firearms. The police also confiscated Riley’s phone and a detective analyzed his pictures and videos. He found that Riley was a gang member and was tied to the shooting earlier that month. Riley was charged with shooting at an occupied vehicle, attempted murder, and assault with a semi-automatic firearm. As the case progressed through different courts, the issue became whether or not the information/evidence gathered through Riley’s phone was admissible. The California Courts said it was okay to admit evidence from Riley’s phone. The Supreme Court differed and their decision made this case one of America’s landmark cases.

The ruling now requires that authorities obtain a warrant before searching a seized cell phone after an arrest. A warrantless cell phone search violates the Fourth Amendment right to privacy. Although this ruling may not seem like anything extraordinary to the average person, it hints at the fact that the Court is ready to engage with challenges it will face in the digital age ahead. This ruling also signals that the Court is concerned with the privacy of its citizens in this age of technology. We may see the court taking a pro-privacy approach in the future as well.

The Court identified many reasons for affording cell phones greater Fourth Amendment protections than physical records. Chief Justice Roberts explained these reasons:

  1. Cell phones have an immense storage capacity and can store millions of texts, pictures, and videos.
  2. Cell phones are able to aggregate many distinct types of information in one place.
  3. Data on cell phones usually includes “private information never found a home in any form.”
  4. Cell phones can serve as a portal to private records stored on remote servers. One click on a phone can give someone access to data stored elsewhere. This refers to cloud computing.

Not only did the Justices focus on the quantity of data stored in cell phones, they also looked at the quality of personal information. The Fourth Amendment was put in place by the Founding Father’s in order to maintain the privacy of the colonists. When British officers started rummaging through the home of people looking for criminal activity, the Founding Fathers knew there was a problem. This Supreme Court decision shows the privacy of Americans still needs to be protected. Many of the statements Chief Justice Roberts made along with the unanimous court showed that the NSA’s bulk record collection program may not be the best route for increased national security either.

Chief Roberts concluded the unanimous court decision by saying something that will definitively go down in the history books, “The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought.” We hope this in-depth analysis of Riley has helped our readers better understand their rights.

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Sources referenced:

  1. SCOTUS Blog
  2. Oyez
How Your Body Language Shapes You

How Your Body Language Shapes You

Amy Cuddy, a social scientists, focuses on nonverbal human behavior. Our posture, a handshake, an awkward hug, a smirk, and many other things fall under this category. She says our body language is a form of communication. Social scientists have spent a fair amount of time looking at the effect of our body language on other people. Our body language helps others make judgments and inferences about us. An example would be during a job interview. However, we focus a lot on how others are impacted by our body language but fail to look at how we are impacted by our body language. In her research, Cuddy focused on nonverbal expressions of power and dominance. For animals, they make themselves big and take up more space with their body. For humans, something similar takes place. To illustrate her point, Cuddy shows an image of Oprah and an Olympic runner stretching. A power pose is demonstrated by Cuddy in the image below.

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Cuddy then focuses on how men and women exhibit different body language and nonverbal expressions. As a professor at Harvard Business School, Cuddy has seen that male MBA students tend to take up more space around their desk area and be more dominant in the classroom. Females find their small space and prefer to be there and only raise their hands slightly, continuing to take up less space. This is not surprising because women feel less powerful than men. She then goes on to compare the minds of powerful and powerless people. In physiology, high power individuals have high levels of testosterone and low levels of cortisol. This is evidence that the body can shape the mind and the mind can shape the body.

Cuddy and her colleagues conducted an experiment where they took a student’s saliva sample, asked them to do either a low or high level pose for two minutes, asked them a series of questions about taking risks/gambles, and then took a saliva sample again. They found that those who did the high power pose were more likely to take risks/gambles. High power people also had higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of cortisol in only two minutes. This shows that our nonverbal behaviors govern how we think and feel about ourselves. How can we apply to this everyday life?

Answering this question was very important to Cuddy. She found that displaying confident and high power nonverbal behavior is important where we are being judged by others. This can be during a job interview or at a lunch meeting with friends. Since most people experience nonverbal shutdowns during a job interview, Cuddy conducted an experiment where several people were sent to an interview where they interviewers exhibited absolutely no nonverbal clues. The candidates came out very stressed and with high cortisol levels. At the end of the experiment, third party reviewers came in and looked at the videos of the interviews. They only preferred to hire the high power individuals because their nonverbal communication was a lot better. Cuddy tells a personal story of how she faked it until she made it at her first few jobs as a professor and speaker. She says you should not fake it until you make it, but fake it until you become it. Lastly, Cuddy concludes by saying everyone should try a power pose before stressful event and share this science to help others.

Source referenced: TED

Insurer Found Liable for Settlement Negotiated by Insured

Insurer Found Liable for Settlement Negotiated by Insured

San Diego Apartment Brokers prohibited riding bikes in the complex’s parking lot and other common areas after receiving complaints from several residents. Despite the new changes in policy, Juse Urista’s child continued to ride his bicycle in common areas. Brokers noticed that Urista was not complying with the new policy and served him an eviction notice. Urista sued Brokers claiming the eviction was wrongful and discriminatory. He also claimed negligence and violations of the Federal Fair Housing Act. Urista said the eviction also caused him depression and bodily injury.

Brokers received the claim and tendered it to its general liability insurer California Capital Insurance Company (CCIC). Brokers had not yet evicted Urista from his apartment at this point. CCIC refused to defend Brokers because Urista had not been evicted. Brokers’ attorney said CCIC could not refuse to defend his client without a valid defense. CCIC reviewed the case once again, but concluded that they did not have the authority to defend Brokers under the policy. They provided four reasons for not defending Broker’s action.

  1. Urista did not claim a separate physical injury
  2. Broker’s actions leading to the incident were decisions, not accidents
  3. A wrongful eviction had not taken place
  4. Even though Urista’s family had moved out, Urista’s continued residence precluded coverage

After CCIC refused to defend Brokers, Brokers ended up settling the case with Urista for $20,000. Then, Brokers sued CCIC for breach of contract and bad faith. The jury found in Brokers’ favor and awarded them $30,552. CCIC appealed the verdict by arguing that they never acted in bad faith because there was no genuine coverage dispute. However, the court rejected CCIC’s argument by saying Broker’s wrongful evictions claim clearly fell under potentially covered lawsuits.CCIC was being unreasonable by not defending Brokers. CCIC also ignored many of the other claims made by Brokers. CCIC’s refusal to defend Brokers was not in good faith. This case showed that an insurer can be held liable for settlement costs of its insured when the insurer refused to fends it insured in bad faith.

Sources referenced:

  1. JD Supra
  2. San Diego Apartment Brokers, Inc. v. California Capital Ins. Co., No. D062945, 2014 WL 1613449 (Cal. Ct. App. Apr. 22, 2014).
Dan Dennett: The Illusion of Consciousness

Dan Dennett: The Illusion of Consciousness

Dan Denneet is a philosophy professor who focuses on the human mind’s consciousness. Dennett says people often laugh when he tells them he works on understanding other people’s consciousness. He says it is very difficult to change other people’s consciousness because everybody thinks they are an expert on their own consciousness. However, there is a difference between having a strong opinion and having expertise in a certain field. Take video games as an example. Everyone has a strong opinion on whether video games promote violence, but not everyone is an expert on the research behind video games. In his TED Talk, Dennett says he wants to shake the audience’s consciousness.

During the first several minutes of his talk ,Dennett compares magic tricks to our consciousness. He says magic tricks, like our consciousness, seem more marvelous than they actually are in reality. He goes on to show computer-animated demos to show that we do not notice many things that happen. Dennett tells the audience the screen will show blocks that change colors, but mentions that it is difficult to recognize the change even when you know it will take place. He shares his personal experiences of viewing a Bellotto painting in North Carolina. Standing far away, Dennett thought he saw people in the painting. When he got up close, the people ended up being blobs of paint. This, he says, is an example of how your brains expects certain details or things.

Dennett says there are many times when we are subjects of experiments going on inside our brain. There are even times when you do not even know you had certain beliefs. Dennett continues to wow the audience with different paintings and explains how the brain “fills in gaps” to explain the images we see. He also explains the concept of change-blindness. Dennett says scientist often tell us things about our own consciousness that we would never dream of. This shows we are not always the expert or authority on our consciousness. Dennett concludes his talk by saying that both scientist and psychologist are working on theories to explain the human brain.

Source referenced: TED

The Past and Present of Trade Secret Legislation

The Past and Present of Trade Secret Legislation

In order to better understand the past and present state of trade secret legislation, it is important to understand what a trade secret is and why it is often viewed differently from other intellectual property rights.

What is a Trade Secret?

Trade secrets can include a broad range of proprietary information, including product development plans, customer information, and even formulae. In order to have your trade secret protected, you:

  • must be using the trade secret
  • the trade secret must be conferring you with an economic advantage
  • the trade secret must not be generally known in the industry
  • the trade secret must be protected in a way that safeguards its confidentiality

If all of these elements are met, the owner of the trade secret may file a suit when the secret is acquired, used, or disclosed by illegal means.

Why are Trade Secrets different from other IP rights?

Unlike patents and copyrights that are governed by federal statutes, trade secret rights fall under state law. This usually makes trade secrets the “odd man out.” Congress is now considering making a federal civil action for trade secret misappropriation, including remedies that are currently unavailable under state law. Not only does Congress believe state law for trade secrets is inadequate, they also have expressed concern about the threat posed by international espionage.

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History of Trade Secret Legislation

Trade secret laws developed from common law principles of agency, trusts, and torts. Since these principles varied from state to state, the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA) was adopted by many states beginning in the 1980’s. 47 states have adopted the UTSA today.

The statute directed at trade secrets is the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, in which the EEA created criminal penalties for trade secret misappropriation. However, there was no room to bring were civil action for damages. Congress amended the EAA in 2012 to clarify that the EAA applied to trade secrets in use or intended to be in use. They also increased the range of available criminal penalties.

Proposed Legislation on Trade Secrets

House Bill 5233, known as the “Trade Secrets Protection Act of 2014” hoped to make a path for civil action for misappropriation of trade secrets. The bill also proposed a civil seizure remedy that would authorize the court to enter an Ex Parte Seizures to preserve evidence or to prevent the “propagation or distribution” of a misappropriated trade secret. Lastly, the bill hoped to create expanded remedies, including compensatory and punitive damages.

The Senate hoped to pass a similar bill, the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2014, and both the House and the Senate had the support of many industry groups, who believed such a bill would protect trade secrets and combat any industrial espionage efforts. Critics argued that Congress did not need to step in if the current system of state laws worked. These critics further added that adopting federal statutes would erode state activity in the trade secret areas, resulting in fewer trade secret laws in the future. However, President Obama  made some changes to trade secret legislation in the past few days.

Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (DTSA)

On May 11, President Obama signed into law the DTSA. This enables companies to go to federal court to sue for misappropriation of trade secrets. The DTSA now allows for Ex Parte Seizures in “extraordinary circumstances.” The law also expands remedies, such as adding Exemplary Damages and rewarding attorney’s fees. Injunctive relief is also provided and expanded with the DTSA.

With the passing of the DTSA, private parties do not have to rely solely on state law when it comes to protecting their trade secrets. The hope is that this new trade secret protection will allow trade secrets to function like other intellectual property rights and provide secret holders with more protection.

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Sources referenced:

  1. JD Supra (2014)
  2. JD Supra (2016)

 

 

 

4th Circuit: No Warrant Needed to Track Cellphone Location

4th Circuit: No Warrant Needed to Track Cellphone Location

A three-judge panel in the 4th Circuit Court had previously ruled that police officers needed a warrant to track location services and access information on a subject’s cellphone. The court was split on this decision, but the three-judge panel prevailed in limiting law enforcement authority. On May 30, the en banc 4th Circuit Court reversed its own decision and said no warrant is required for law enforcement officials to track location information for a subject’s cellphone. The court said all that would be required would be showing the court that the cell phone is relevant to the subject’s case. As long as the cell phone is relevant, law enforcement authorities will be able to get information about the cell towers through which the calls were made and received.

The US Supreme Court mandated precedent saying that information voluntarily provided to third parties, such as cell phone service providers, lacks requisite confidentiality. Therefore, no warrant is needed to access this information. Cellphone location information can be seen as similar to hotel bills and credit card statements, which are also not considered confidential. The Supreme Court did mention that this “third-party doctrine” may be modified or eliminated in the future. Congress has the power to require a warrant for cell-site location, but the controlling law does not require a warrant for cellphone location. It has been argued that allowing authorities to gain access to a subject’s cellphone does not violate the Fourth Amendment.

Many attorneys and legal scholars are concerned that this decision by the 4th Circuit gives law enforcement authorities unlimited power to gain access to every American cellphone user without a warrant. Cellphones for many Americans contain intimate information and they may not want the government to see everything they see on their personal devices. Attorney Meghan Skelton intends to appeal the 4th Circuit decision to the Supreme Court. As an attorney for the defendants in the Baltimore case the 4th Circuit ruled on, Skelton believes her appeal to the highest court in the nation will better protect Americans. Although Skelton is optimistic, it is unlikely the Supreme Court will even hear the case. All of the circuit courts in the nation now agree that cell tower information is not private and it is very unlikely the Supreme Court will disagree with them.

We have previously blogged about a Supreme Court decision where they found that GPS tracking does count as a search and therefore must require a warrant. In that case, a unanimous decision said that if the government attaches anything to your body or your property, it counts as a search. Once again, the Fourth Amendment and advances in technology seem to be contradicting. However, tracking the location of your cellphone is different from attaching something to your body to track you. Perhaps this was the reason the 4th Circuit Court reversed their previous decision and now allows law enforcement officials to get cell tower information without a warrant. While unlikely to succeed, it would be interesting to how an appeal to the Supreme Court would play out.

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Source referenced: ABA Journal

Why Your Office Needs Stand-up Desks

Why Your Office Needs Stand-up Desks

Stand-up desks are a glimpse into the future of office spaces. Many of us have heard about the benefits of using a balance ball instead of a regular chair when sitting at the desk. However, a new study out of Texas A&M shows that there is no need for any type of chair. The study found that employees were 46% more productive at their call center job while at a stand-up desk. The study lasted for six months and focused on 167 workers. Texas A&M measured the productivity of the workers by looking at the number of calls each worker completed per hour. The office workers were split into two groups. 74 workers used stand capable work stations, while 93 worked at their desk with a chair. At the end of the day, those at the stand-up desks spent 1.6 extra hours standing. Looking simply at this information, it may seem like standing up led workers to be more productive. However, researchers believe there may be another reason for the increased productivity.

Over the six month study, those using stand-up desks said they experienced less discomfort. This would be saying that sitting at a desk is more uncomfortable than standing up. Since these workers experienced less discomfort, they were feeling a lot better and feeling good leads to better customer service over the phone. In this age of technology where many of us are constantly glued to our phones, anything that forces us to stand and be physical is good for our bodies and makes us happier workers.

While this study was conducted at a call center and may not apply to all work environments, it never hurts to try out or modify something to see if it works for you. Mark Benden, director of Texas A&M’s Ergonomics Center, said he would be thrilled to even get 23% more productivity out of his workers. He and many other believes a small investment in changing the workplace layout and furniture may pay off very well in the future.

We hope this post has been informative and has hopefully inspired business owners to make some changes around the office. Not only have stand-up desks proven to increase employee’s productivity, they also decrease discomfort for the employee. Sitting on a chair all day can definitely be tiring. Perhaps changing around the furniture in your office can help your business run more efficiently in the future.

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Source referenced: ABA Journal

Is Cloud Computing Ethical?

Is Cloud Computing Ethical?

In this age of increased technology, attorneys are turning to “virtual law offices” (VLO) and cloud technologies to maintain office files and information. There have been concerns raised about whether maintaining files online still complies with an attorney’s ethical obligations. Cloud computing is accepted by the Business and Professions Code and the Rules of Professional Conduct, but attorneys may be required to take additional steps to confirm that he or she is fulfilling ethical obligations with the cloud. There are no new or greater duties imposed on VLO, but attorneys are asked to be more cautious when taking this approach.

In a VLO, attorneys are able to communicate with clients through a secure internet portal. The attorney’s website can store information regarding the client’s case. The information on the client matters are password protected and encrypted. The State Bar of California understands the flexibility and convenience of legal services provided through VLO. However, this does not mean a client’s confidentiality could be sacrificed. Every lawyer, they believe, has a duty to “maintain inviolate the confidence, and at every peril to himself or herself, preserve the secrets of his or her client.”

Whether or not an attorney violates his or her duties to confidentiality when using technology will depend on the particular technology being used. Before using an technology in the course of representing a client, an attorney must evaluate:

  1. The level of security attendant to the use of that technology, including considerations of whether reasonable precautions may be taken using it.
  2. The legal ramifications to a third party who intercepts or accesses the electronic information.
  3. The degree of sensitivity of the information.
  4. The possible impact on the client of an inadvertent disclosure of confidential information.
  5. The urgency of the situation.
  6. The client’s instructions and circumstances.

We hope both our clients and other attorneys found this post useful in understanding the changing nature of the legal field. While the State Bar does not impose additional rules or restrictions on VOL, attorneys are asked to be more cautious when using a cloud. The information provided above comes from specific ethical guidelines from California’s State Bar. Opinions by other Bar Associations may vary.

Sources referenced:

  1. State Bar of CA Formal Opinion 2010-179
  2. CA State Bar Formal Opinion 2012-184