John Farmer's Column  

John wears two hats – columnist and lawyer. He writes a monthly column, Leading-Edge Law, for the Richmond Times-Dispatch on breaking legal issues in the e-commerce, intellectual property and high-tech fields. He’s been writing columns since 1998.
RSS Feed RSS Feed

 


Businesses Beware: Using AI to Create Fake Celebrity Advertisements Can Get You in Trouble

Tuesday, May 21st, 2024

Imagine Taylor Swift endorsing your product. Can’t afford her? AI can fake it for you! Thanks to AI deepfake technology, you can create a counterfeit but realistic Taylor Swift endorsement without involving her. Deepfakes use computer machine learning to create eerily realistic images, videos, and audio mimicking real people. Scammers used AI to create a Read the full article…


Virginia’s New Law on College Student-Athlete NIL – Is Virginia a Leader or Irrelevant?

Wednesday, April 17th, 2024

During this General Assembly session, Virginia enacted a law that expands the legality of university support for student-athletes’ name, image, and likeness (“NIL”) opportunities and prohibits the NCAA from acting against them. You could argue that Virginia is the most progressive state in the country in terms of NIL rights for college student-athletes. In addition Read the full article…


Would a U.S. Ban on TikTok Stand Up In Court? What Can Businesses Do if a Ban is Enacted?

Wednesday, March 20th, 2024

There is momentum in Congress toward banning TikTok in the U.S. or forcing its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to sell to a non-Chinese owner. A TikTok ban would significantly impact U.S. businesses. Would a ban pass court scrutiny? What are the options for businesses if a ban occurs? U.S. businesses advertise heavily through TikTok, and Read the full article…


Game Over for Generative AI? It Has a Copyright Infringing Output Problem.

Monday, March 4th, 2024

Recent developments show that generative AIs (“GenAI”) have bigger copyright-infringement problems than initially thought. These AIs have been spitting out copies of Super Mario, RoboCop, Captain America, and New York Times stories. What does this mean for the future of GenAI and for potential liability for businesses and people using it? NYU professor Gary Marcus Read the full article…


Plagiarism vs. Copyright Infringement: What’s the Difference?

Wednesday, January 17th, 2024

Trivia time: What do these celebrities have in common: Jennifer Lopez, Gigi Hadid, 50 Cent, Jessica Simpson, Khloé and Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Dua Lipa, Justin Bieber, and Ariana Grande? Answer: They were each sued because they reposted pictures of themselves on social media taken by professional photographers – usually photos these photographers posted on Read the full article…


Microsoft 365 Copilot is Here. What Are the Legal Risks of Using It?

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2024

Microsoft 365 Copilot is here. Will it be a big timesaver for your business? Does using it present significant legal risks? Copilot adds generative AI capability to core Microsoft Office applications, such as Word, Outlook, Excel, Teams, and PowerPoint. It can be used to create, summarize, and analyze things in those applications. For example, purportedly, Read the full article…


The First Battles in the Legal War Over the Future of AI Have Begun

Tuesday, November 21st, 2023

As of this writing, Sam Altman is still out as CEO of OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT. The Economist depicts this firing as a battle in the war between AI “boomers” and “doomers.” The doomers believe AI threatens humanity and must be constrained. The boomers believe this threat is overstated and that AI progress should Read the full article…


Regulating AI to Protect Society: Where Things Stand and May Be Going

Wednesday, October 18th, 2023

Do you worry about AI destroying your future? Is there any chance that government regulation will save you? To give shape to your fear, pick your favorite dystopian sci-fi movie: o Metropolis (1927) – AI-like robot Maria is used to manipulate the working class. o 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) – A spaceship’s onboard AI Read the full article…


Beware of Defamation Liability for Reposting Material on Social Media

Thursday, September 21st, 2023

Can you be held personally liable for reposting something defamatory on social media? A Richmond federal judge recently held you can be. The judge made this ruling in a case with jaw-dropping allegations. The case hasn’t yet gone to trial, and nothing has been proven, so I’ll refrain from giving the litigants’ real names. The Read the full article…


The Experiment Failed: AI Isn’t Yet Ready to Be a Good Document Summarizer

Wednesday, August 16th, 2023

Have you worried about whether you are missing a trick in incorporating AI into your business? I recently did an experiment that revealed AI is not yet ready for prime time for a key function: legal document summarization. What I learned applies to summarizing any important document. I worked with a computer science Ph.D. candidate Read the full article…