When it comes to the difficulties facing copyright law in our changing media landscape, perhaps Public Knowledge’s Gigi Sohn summed it up best in a recent Marketplace
interview: “You have a pre-VCR law in a YouTube world,” she explained.
It’s no secret that copyright law is firmly stuck in the 20th century, creating gaps and loopholes for copyright holders as electronic mediums rapidly evolve along with entertainment consumption habits. One particularly glaring loophole centers around the common practice of unauthorized streaming of songs and other copyrighted material on sites like YouTube. A bill moving through the U.S. Senate would make it a felony to stream such material for profit without consent.
So will the proposed law make felons out of all those lip-synchers and piano playing cats on YouTube? Copyright and trademark lawyer Dyan House of Munck Carter says the average person need not work because the intent of the law is to reign in commercial enterprises profiting from this legal loophole.
Writes Marketplace: There must be 10 or more instances of copyrighted works being streamed over a 180-day period. The content must be worth over $2500. So it's not necessarily meant to shut down the average person who watches the occasional pirated episode of "iCarly."
Thanks to the impending marriage of the smartphone and bank account, there’s a very good chance that one day very soon all of us will be walking around with digital wallets.
Before that happens, mobile phone users will have to get over the fear that combining phones and payment cards creates new and lucrative avenues for hackers and data thieves. In a guest commentary published by the Dallas Morning News, data security expert Erin Nealy Cox writes: “There’s something inherently terrifying about the prospect of transforming a smartphone into a digital wallet — just ask anyone who’s left an iPhone in a cab or any parent who’s discovered that children are capable of making purchases within an app.”
While new data security threats will no doubt emerge with phones using Near Field Communication, Nealy Cox, executive managing director at international data security firm Stroz Friedberg, advises that there’s a real opportunity for all of us to rethink the way we interface with our devices, our social media platforms and all of the Internet accounts and logons that come with life in the digital age.
"Will the marriage of payment card and mobile phone make us even more vulnerable to cyber thieves and offer a new avenue for our personal information to wind up in the hands of global crime syndicates? Perhaps yes, but I prefer to look at this as an opportunity for all of us to clean house and fix what is too often the weakest link when it comes to cyber security — our own lazy online habits."
Read more about Nealy Cox’s password checklist here.
As a longtime and respected estate planning lawyer in Dallas, it’s not uncommon for legal reporters to seek out Shackelford Melton & McKinley’s Dan Baucum for insight and analysis on legal stories involving complicated estate planning, tax and business questions. When Baucum spoke with Dallas Morning News “Problem Solver” reporter Katie Fairbank recently, he provided more than provide a few knowledgeable quotes – he ultimately agreed to help unravel a messy dispute on a pro bono basis.
Relatives of Dallas resident Johnny Peters came to Fairbank after Mr. Peters died of natural causes inside his apartment. With the funeral date approaching, the apartment’s property manager changed the locks on his apartment unit and blocked the family’s efforts to retrieve burial clothes and sentimental items. After receiving a series of confusing explanations from the apartment owners, Fairbank turned to Baucum for help. Writes Fairbank:
After learning about the case from Problem Solver, probate attorney Baucum offered to help the family pro bono. He spent the next week trying to reach Pinnacle’s attorney, but no one answered the phone and his calls were not returned. “If someone dies in Texas with an estate valued at less than $50,000 and no will, the people that get the possessions are the children or the grandchildren in accordance with state law,” he said.
Fairbank went on to recount how Baucum persisted and ultimately obtained a constructive response and the workings of a resolution.On Wednesday, Kin Oldham, head of the company’s central region, returned Baucum’s calls. They reached an agreement Friday. “The bottom line is that [Oldham] is willing to let me tell him who the heirs-at-law will be,” Baucum said. “He was quite reasonable. Finally, I think we’ve got something where we don’t have to go to court.” Baucum said the proper release of the possessions should be finalized next week. Oldham explained to Baucum that the company’s attorney is seriously ill and has been unavailable. Family members say they are numb from their nearly monthlong struggle. They wonder why they weren’t simply told that the attorney was sick. “I respect that, but I don’t understand why we were treated this way,” Chaney said.