Illinois’ Problematic Gun Law

I enjoy disparate interests. I teach Second Amendment law, and teach and write a treatise on advertising law. I was surprised that two of my legal interests coincided when Illinois House Bill 218 was signed into law by the Illinois Gov, J.B. Pritzker.

H.B. 218 is an omnibus gun safety law, and one of its prohibitions is the advertising of a gun in a way that may support, recommend or encourage a person under 18 to unlawfully purchase, possess or use a firearm in Illinois. In addition to the vagueness of this criminal statute, it has First Amendment problems. Maybe Second Amendment issues, too.

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U.S. Copyright Law Protects Only Human Works

By Guest Contributor Victoria E. Thornton

You may have seen online images that were created using artificial intelligence (AI) and wondered whether copyright law protects the artist’s efforts. In most instances, apparently not. A recent landmark decision by the United States Copyright Office holds that copyright protects only human-made works.

The Copyright Office’s February 21, 2023, published decision explains why artificially made works are not protected. “Zarya of the Dawn” is a comic book authored by Kristina Kashtanova and illustrated using Midjourney, an artificial intelligence program. See U.S. Copyright Office Correspondence to Kristina Kashtanova (Feb. 21, 2023). Though the Office granted limited registration as to the text of the work as well as the selection, coordination, and arrangement of the work’s written and visual elements, it declined to protect the artificially generated illustrations. Id. at 1.

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Why AI Developers Are Being Sued

There is no clarity of result available to artificial intelligence litigants who tread in the Land of Oz.

Plaintiffs are filing suits against AI developers at a quick pace; their grounds are that AI really creates nothing new but merely reads and copies billions of other peoples’ protected works from the Internet. Using these works, and in reaction to a user’s commands, AI combines elements of existing works into something else, whether art or prose.

The new work may be a derivative of an old, copied work for which the developer needs a license to use the old work. Many authors think so, and have joined together to sue, although for now their suits raise more questions than there are answers.

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Goodell DeVries’s IP Group Honored in Best Lawyers 2024

Congratulations to Jim Astrachan and Donna M.D. Thomas on once again being selected for Best Lawyers in America, and to Kaitlin D. Corey on being selected for Best Lawyers Ones to Watch for 2024.

Jim is named in the Advertising Law, Communications Law, Copyright Law, Litigation – Intellectual Property, and Trademark Law categories. He has appeared in Best Lawyers every year since 2006.

Donna is named in the Copyright Law and Trademark Law categories. She’s been selected for Best Lawyers annually since 2015.

Kaitlin is named in the Corporate Law; Intellectual Property Law; Litigation – Intellectual Property categories.

The Taco Tuesday Tussle

Some fast food trademarks make me hungry. Taco Bell’s recent fight with Taco John’s over Taco Tuesday® did so. But trademark battles between two fast food chains aside, I thought more interesting was how Taco Bell turned the dispute into entertaining advertising that promoted its brand more than its product. More on this shortly.

Is Taco Tuesday a proprietary trademark, a designator of a single source of a product? Is it a generic term, available for use by all sellers of tacos to describe in terms generally known to the public that tacos are eaten or a good deal on Tuesdays? The question to chew on is what has the public come to understand Taco Tuesday to represent? A designator of source, or is it merely a declaration used by many that Tuesday is a day to eat tacos? Even if it began life as a designator of source, it can become generic through use. Think shredded wheat, or aspirin. Continue reading

Updated FTC Endorsement Guides

What if Paris Hilton were to rave to her followers about how much she likes her McDonald’s salad, or Roger Federer tweets photos of Coppertone lotion to his followers, or Khaby Lame shows up on TikTok in a Puma logo shirt. Any problem here? Any special requirements? On June 29, 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) delivered an updated version of its Guides Concerning Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (the “Endorsement Guides”), which are administrative interpretations concerning application of section 5 of the FTC Act. The Guides are not law; they are advisory and intended to give guidance to businesses and others to ensure that advertising using reviews or endorsements is truthful, but they are the FTC’s litigating positions, and an advertiser violates them at its own risk. The updated Endorsement Guides are available here (starting at page 44 of 84).

The FTC also issued an updated version of its guidance document, titled FTC’s Endorsement Guides: What People are Asking, that answers frequently asked questions about the Endorsement Guides (the “FAQs”), including when and how to disclose material connections between an advertiser and an endorser; the FAQs are available here.

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How Much Should Artificial Intelligence, AI Advertising Be Regulated?

Artificial intelligence continues to dominate the news, which is rather remarkable considering all the other happenings of importance. The discussion of dangers posed by artificial intelligence took center stage in Congress when Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, told a Senate panel hearing that society is at a “printing press” moment and that Congress needs to regulate AI.

Altman, whose company created ChatGPT, advanced his three-point plan. He wants: a new federal agency to license AI models, with the power to revoke licenses if a licensee does not comply with standards; implementation of safety standards and evaluations of dangerous AI capabilities; and audits of a model’s performance. An entrepreneur and business leader asking that his industry be regulated is as rare as a beef steak at a vegan banquet. Continue reading

Impurities in the AI Engine’s Gas Tank

The European Union respects data privacy; the United States does not.

The Wall Street Journal’s report that E.U. regulators fined Meta, Facebook’s parent, $1.3 billion for privacy violations struck a raw nerve. The United States has no laws to protect the privacy of consumer data, and Meta was fined because it transferred data collected from its European users for storage in the United States.

E.U. regulators expressed concern that this U.S.-stored data would be purloined by American spy agencies without knowledge or legal recourse of the people from whom it was collected purloined.

Instead of stealing consumer data, U.S. spy agencies are now buying, and sharing, vast quantities of personal data, replacing the intrusive surveillance that spy and law enforcement agencies, domestic and foreign, once used. This is the conclusion of a report commissioned by the Director of National Intelligence. The purchase of data is not subject to Fourth Amendment restraints.

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