Legal Protection of a Digital Resurrection

Not long ago, the death of an actor also meant the death of his or her characters. If the actor died before filming was complete, there may have been no other choice but to scrap the movie altogether. Now, however, advances in technology have made it possible to digitally “resurrect” actors, thereby potentially saving both the characters and the films. Thanks to continuing improvements in computer-generated imagery (CGI) technology, when Nancy Marchand died while filming The Sopranos or when Paul Walker died while filming Furious 7, their characters were able to live on despite their deaths until the writers were able to write in a more natural exit for the character. Most recently, in December 2016, Peter Cushing virtually reprised his role of Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, despite his death in 1994. These digital resurrections are not flawless, but they are often unnoticeable to the untrained eye. Furthermore, the recent improvements in CGI quality suggest that a computer-generated actor that “will fool even experienced professionals” may not be far off. CGI technology may have a lot of positive benefits in the film industry. For example, the increasing quality of CGI technology has the potential [read more]

The Chase for 75%: The History of Steroids and Stigma in Baseball

From the seven-year old player on a Little League team to the Major Baseball League’s most decorated hitter, all baseball players have the same dream: to make it to Cooperstown, the illustrious Baseball Hall of Fame. Each year, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America votes on a list of eligible players for induction into the Hall of Fame. While some lucky candidates are voted in on their first time on the ballot in their first year of eligibility, many others have to wait several years, and exponentially more players never even get their name in the conversation. Here, the most difficult situation comes into play when an all-time great’s record is tarnished by their use of performance enhancing drugs during the “steroids era.” However, many of these players that were once declared forever banished from the Hall of Fame (such as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens) are starting to see the tides change, as each year they slowly accumulate more percentage votes in an effort to reach the required 75% for induction. This year, they both exceeded the 50% threshold on their way to the 75% required for admission—and these players should both ultimately end up in the Hall of [read more]

A Slap on the Wrist for Domestic Abuse in Russia

There is a Russian proverb that reads: “If he beats you it means he loves you.” On January 27, 2017, Russia’s Parliament voted 380-3 to decriminalize domestic violence. This would remove criminal liability in cases where the violence does not cause “substantial bodily harm” and does not occur more than once a year. The rationale behind this bill is unpersuasive. Proponents of the bill argue that the law would protect traditional family values. Family members should not be imprisoned and labelled a criminal “for a mere slap.” This seems to suggests that family conflicts do not and should not constitute domestic violence. What is problematic is that decriminalizing battery, regardless of who commits it, fails to send the message that beating your wife and children is wrong. This is especially chilling not only because the aggressor will not be punished, but also because it will create a safe harbor for those who abide by the restrictions set forth in the bill. According to The Economist, Russia is one of three countries in Europe and Central Asia that do not have laws targeting domestic violence. The Moscow Times reports that, even before this bill was passed, police stations had rarely taken [read more]

Are the FTC’s Regulations of Social Media Influencers Sufficient?

Using celebrities to sell products is hardly a new or innovative practice. Throughout time, celebrities have endorsed almost every product imaginable, from clothing and makeup to cars, credit cards, food, and even milk. This practice has been so consistent over time because, put simply, it is effective: brands are willing to spend whatever it takes to get the sales boost that typically comes with a celebrity partnership. Social media is extremely prevalent in today’s society (the average person spends about two hours a day, or up to nine hours a day for teens, on social media). As a result, social media advertising through influencers (individuals that have the ability to impact an audience’s behavior through their social media posts, such as bloggers and celebrities) tends to be a highly effective way to for brands to interact with their customers. It makes sense that brands are moving their product endorsements from traditional media outlets to the social media world. Consumers put a significant amount of information about themselves onto social media sites, which allows for very specific tailoring of content to individual consumers. Further, social media advertising tends to be less expensive than traditional advertising channels. According to Liz Dunn, founder [read more]

Trump’s Muslim Immigration Ban – Concerning but Likely Constitutional

President Trump has recently signed an executive order, titled “Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals,” that restricts visits and immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, and Iran. Trump’s executive order has sparked widespread protest and backlash from Muslim support groups, and has routinely been characterized as “racist.” Some critics of the executive order argue that the immigration ban targeting solely Muslim-majority countries is unconstitutional. Current United States law and court cases, however, grant the President broad authority to restrict immigration from particular countries. In the decades following the ratification of the Constitution, the Supreme Court determined that the Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch had “plenary power”—absolute power— over issues concerning immigration. Since then, Congress has given away much of its shared plenary power over immigration to the Executive Branch. For example, Congress delegated to the Executive Branch the power to determine whether foreigners should be granted temporary protected status, whether a person is permitted to work in the United States, whether a person’s deportation should be deferred, and whether to grant a person permission to be in the United States when the person does not qualify for a visa. Despite the [read more]

Autonomous Cars: Who’s to Blame?

By Danny Ho The world may soon enter into a new era of transportation – autonomous cars. What was once a futuristic concept that people only toyed with in their imaginations is increasingly becoming a reality. These are cars that drive themselves through the use of sensory technologies such as radar, global positioning systems (GPS) and cameras. Technically speaking, passengers in such a car could sleep or even read a book while the car navigates itself to the desired location. Aside from passenger luxury and convenience, there are other advantages to a road system dominated by autonomous cars. Most importantly, the use of autonomous cars could actually reduce the occurrence of traffic collisions generally by virtually negating instances of human driving errors such as tailgating, aggressive driving, and lack of attention. The consulting firm McKinsey & Company even estimates that, if the use of autonomous cars become widespread, traffic collisions could be reduced by as much as 90% nationally. In addition, autonomous cars may provide for higher speed limits and thus smoother and shorter travel times because of a decreased need for safety gaps between cars. But despite these advantages, autonomous cars can still get in traffic accidents. In fact, [read more]

Global Warming and the Law: Why Legal Technicalities are Harming Our Environment

By Danny Ho The global warming controversy encompasses the on-going dispute about whether or not human activities, such as carbon dioxide emissions from automobiles, affect the global climate. Studies from scientific journals, such as the Environmental Research Letters, show that the general scientific community attributes global warming to human action. The Obama administration operates under the same belief and has pushed for the Clean Power Plan (CPP) in order to curb carbon dioxide emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the CPP, calling for stricter standards on carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants operating on coal and gas. Over half the states are against the CPP, arguing that the EPA is overstepping its legal authority. The CPP is currently in limbo because the Supreme Court has halted implementation of it until the D.C. Circuit Court decides on its legality. Regardless of the outcome in the D.C. Circuit Court, the decision will likely return to the Supreme Court for a final ruling. The need for the CPP is clear to its supporters. Global carbon dioxide emissions have increased by about a third since the Industrial Revolution, primarily as a result of the burning of fossil fuels. As a result, carbon [read more]

Gobble, Gobble: A Pardon for Turkeys, But Not for Snowden

By: Francis Cullo   On November 23, the day before Thanksgiving, President Obama will pardon a turkey (or two) for the eighth and final time in his presidency. This lighthearted tradition dates back to the Truman White House, although some trace the practice back to Lincoln’s clemency of a turkey all the way back in 1863. It is a somewhat absurd tradition. For one thing turkeys have not even committed a crime! But so many of our Thanksgiving traditions are absurd. The National Turkey Federation (yes, it’s a real lobbying organization) sponsors the White House ceremony. The Federation pays for the pardoned turkeys to arrive to the White House by motorcade flanked by Secret Service agents. For all the pomp and circumstance of the Thanksgiving ceremony, President Obama is a reluctant pardoner in another way as well. Obama trails every two-term president in number of pardons except for our first president George Washington, favoring instead the use of commutations. Executive clemency powers are serious business, and should not be taken lightly. However, under federal mandatory minimum standards, non-violent first-time offenders are not eligible for parole, and many are serving harsh sentences. That makes executive clemency powers effectively the only safety [read more]
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