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STLR Link Roundup – November 7, 2012

Election 2012

The biggest news of the week is certainly the election.  And in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey announced that it will allow residents to vote by e-mail.  While some feel this is simply a sign of things to come, the decision has been met with harsh criticism from several parties.  NJ assures that the vote will be secure, and that residents who vote by e-mail will have to send in a hard copy of the ballot.

NJ’s email vote isn’t the only controversy surrounding voting in this election.  Ohio congressional candidate John Fitrakis filed a suit to block the use of electronic voting.  While Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted dismisses Fitrakis’ concerns as ridiculous, professional hacker and researcher for Argonne National Laboratory’s Vulnerability Assessment Team Roger Johnston suggests it may not be so farfetched, as he demonstrated.

There have also been reports of electronic voting machines breaking down. Despite the concerns, it is obvious that technology will continue to play an increased role in future elections for the foreseeable future.

 

Insane in the Membrane

Cypress Hill backup singer Michael “Shagg” Washington lost his $250 million lawsuit against Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar games.  The suit alleged that Rockstar misappropriated Shagg’s likeness in creating Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas main character, Carl Johnson.  In ruling for Rockstar, the judge stated that Shagg “failed to establish a probability of defeating Take-Two’s First Amendment-based ‘transformative use’ defense,” and that he “is relying entirely on C.J.’s physical appearance in the game, but that appearance is so generic that it necessarily includes hundreds of other black males.”  The court also found the fact that CJ’s appearance could be significantly altered in the game, either by working out to pack on muscle or eating fast food to gain weight, weighed in Rockstar’s favor.   Without other evidence that Rockstar used his likeness, such as tattoos or a link between their backgrounds, Shagg could not prove his allegations.

A lawsuit of this nature between a celebrity and video game developer is by no means unique.  Just last month rock band No Doubt settled its dispute with Activision after No Doubt alleged fraud, violation of publicity rights and breach of contract for use of lead singer Gwen Stefani’s likeness in its game Band Hero. Activision is also in ongoing litigation with Guns ‘N Roses lead singer Axl Rose for similar claims.

 

Acquire You I Did, Lucasfilms

In a blockbuster deal, George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, sold Lucasfilms to Disney for a reported price of approximately $4.05 billion.  The deal continues a trend for Disney of acquiring established movie developers, as it did when it acquired Pixar and Marvel in recent years.  Reaction to the deal has been mixed; some see this as a great move by Lucas to assure that the Star Wars franchise will live on for generations, while others believe that Star Wars is no longer a profitable franchise.  Still others fear what Disney will do to the Star Wars franchise as a whole.  Lucas spoke about the deal and his reasons for selling the beloved franchise.

Regardless of where you sand on this deal, one thing is certain: Star Wars VII is coming.

 

Apple

It was a mixed week for Apple, as it received 29 new patents, including one for the original iPad design, but had its patent infringement suit against Google and Motorola dismissed by a Wisconsin court.  The suit was dismissed with prejudice when the judge decided she did not have authority to hear the case.  It remains to be seen whether Apple will refile, but Google remains open to a settlement.

 

About the Author

Matt Dias

Matt Dias is a Staffer for the Columbia Science and Technology Law Review. He is a 2L at Columbia Law School.
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