' Michael Goodyear | MTTLR

Closing the Book on Copyrights Once Again

Welcome to 2019, the year copyrights start expiring again. After a 40-year hiatus, in large part due to the work of the world’s best-known mouse, the United States’ lengthy copyrights will start to terminate again this year. The purpose of a copyright is to protect intellectual property that is in a tangible medium of expression, such as literary, musical, and artistic works. The first U.S. copyright law, the 1790 Copyright Act, set the maximum length of a copyright at 14 years, with the chance to renew it for an additional 14 years. The purpose was to allow writers and artists to benefit from their intellectual property for a set period of time that would be enough for them to make a profit. Since 1790, Congress has consistently expanded the lengths of copyright. The 1976 Copyright Act sets the period of copyright protection as the life of the creator plus 50 years. The Copyright Term Extension Act in 1998 was the greatest expansion. Under the Copyright Term Extension Act, works by individuals are protected for the author’s life plus 70 years and works made for hire are protected for either 120 years after creation or 95 years after publication, whichever is sooner. Furthermore, the Act applied retroactively, increasing the copyright length of preexisting copyrights. Critics have dubbed the Copyright Term Extension Act the Mickey Mouse Protection Act. Part of this cynicism comes from the fact that corporations are increasingly holding copyrights instead of individuals as in 1790. Today’s U.S. copyright law can be seen as less about helping starving artists, musicians, and writers make ends meet than it is about...

Swipe Right for Privacy

The mobile application market is flooded with dating apps: Tinder, OkCupid, Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge, Bumble, and dozens more. They might make love happen, but they also risk more than just a bad date. The sheer amount of data these apps collect about users is staggering. After the giant Facebook data breach last Friday, it is time for a closer look at the privacy risks and lack of protection for dating app users. Some areas of the app universe, such as health apps, have begun to be regulated at the state and federal levels due to the highly sensitive nature of the data that is plugged into them. Yet overall the regulation of mobile apps is still the Wild West. There are usually legal claims available against individuals who share a user’s information without his or her permission. For example, in a California case, there was a whole website dedicated to posting private images of former significant others for extortion. The court convicted the website owner on over 30 counts of unlawfully using private information. It is much harder to go after the social network itself—yet social networks are the larger threat to our privacy. An individual is limited to misusing the information a user makes available to him or her. The social network not only has the information you make available to it, but also compiles further information about you through algorithms. When one journalist asked the popular dating app Tinder for access to her personal data, she was greeted with an 800-page dossier on her dating interests, past conversations, information from her other social media accounts, and...