Richmond Journal of Law and Technology

The first exclusively online law review.

Satellite States: China and America’s National Security in Space

Satellite States: China and America’s National Security in Space

By Samuel Naramore

Introduction

Over sixty years ago, in April of 1961, the Soviet Union successfully left the terrestrial safety of Earth and entered outer space (“space”) for the first time.[1] The Soviets entering space initiated the Cold War’s Space Race, prompting the U.S. to devote extraordinary amounts of resources towards developing its space capabilities––to beat the Soviets to the Moon.[2] After reaching the Moon in 1969 as part of NASA’s Apollo program, the United States (“U.S.”) claimed the position as the World’s premier space power.[3]

Since the “Space Race” of the Cold War, the U.S. has led the world in public and private expenditure in space.[4] Even though direct spending on space initiatives by the U.S. government has waned under recent presidential administrations, compared to other space-faring nations, the U.S. still invests more in its space program than any other country.[5] This expenditure since 1961 helped the U.S. establish itself as the dominant presence in space and leading the world in technological advancements––many of which American citizens increasingly rely on.[6]

Can AI-Generated Output Be Protected Under Intellectual Property Law?

Can AI-Generated Output Be Protected Under Intellectual Property Law?

By Audrey Zhang Yang

Introduction

AI-generated output represents a groundbreaking integration of technology and creativity that increasingly challenges established norms in the legal world. Inevitably, it raises the question on whether law and policy on intellectual property protection should evolve and adapt to recognize this changing innovation trend. The Progress Clause of the Constitution gives Congress the power to “promote the Progress of Science…by securing for limited Times to Authors…the exclusive Right to their…Writing.”[i] Pursuant to this authorization, the Copyright Act extends copyright protection for “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression.”[ii] The Copyright Act neither defined “authorship” not “works of authorship.”[iii] Traditionally, courts assigns authorship to individuals who create original works. However, determining authorship is more challenging in the case of artificial intelligence (AI). Some believe that since AI systems are tools programmed by humans, the programmers are entitled to authorship rights.[iv] Also, when someone instructs AI to solve a problem, that person might qualify as an investor if she formulates a problem in a manner that requires inventive skill.[v] However, laws on intellectual property, patent, and copyright were not originally passed with AI in mind. Therefore, there is no law specifically addressing AI-generated invention in any jurisdiction.

Can I Be Protected Against Myself? Artificial Intelligence and Voice Replication

Can I Be Protected Against Myself? Artificial Intelligence and Voice Replication

By Jarrid Outlaw

With recent advancements in artificial intelligence (“AI”), voice replication has become a simple process that anyone can access and utilize.  Having one’s voice replicated to say anything an AI user wants is scary and can have extremely sinister effects, something that citizens should be protected from.  While everyday citizens are less likely to fall victim to abuse, the fact that such technology, fraught with the potential for violations exists, makes it so legal implications are bound to appear. 

Technological Innovation and the Evolution of Fourth Amendment Jurisprudence

Technological Innovation and the Evolution of Fourth Amendment Jurisprudence

By Sydney Coker

Throughout the course of modern history, the Supreme Court and its interpretation of the Fourth Amendment have undergone continual scrutiny as the Justices continue to reinterpret the meaning of the Fourth Amendment in the context of technological advancement. The cases of Olmstead and Katz demonstrate the Court’s shift to a metaphysical understanding of search and seizure in the light of technological advancement and its introduction of the right to privacy.

Pluto: Exploring Robotics Law Through the Lens of Science Fiction

Pluto: Exploring Robotics Law Through the Lens of Science Fiction

By Savannah Thorneberry

Robota is a Czech word meaning ‘forced labor,’ from this word, the common term ‘robot’ was born.[1] The term ‘robot’ owes its origins to Czech playwright Karel Capek who, in 1920, created the hit science fiction play Rossum’s Universal Robots.[2] The play depicts robots who are identical to humans in all aspects, minus a soul; without a soul, they lacked the ability to feel and have emotions the way humans do.[3] In media, robots are often portrayed as companions to humans.[4] While robots are not human, the advancement of robotic technology has prompted the discussion of what it means to be human, a question that science fiction and media have long grappled with.[5] Given the ambiguity around AI and robotics and the laws that regulate it, looking to media, specifically science fiction, can provide insights on a range of moral and ethical considerations as to how these laws might be shaped as technology continues to rapidly advance.

Whose DNA is It Anyway? Legal Challenges that Arise from the Use of Genetic Genealogy in Criminal Investigations

Whose DNA is It Anyway? Legal Challenges that Arise from the Use of Genetic Genealogy in Criminal Investigations

By Kim Lo

Since 2018, law enforcement’s use of genetic genealogy to identify and apprehend suspects has been growing [2], especially in high profile cases like the Golden State Killer case and the recent University of Idaho student murders. However, it is not without its critics.

Navigating Big Tech in Today’s Age of Antitrust Enforcement

Navigating Big Tech in Today’s Age of Antitrust Enforcement

By: Allen Masi

In the last year, the United States government has brought antitrust cases against multiple large technology companies.[1] Google, Meta, Apple, and Microsoft have all been under the lens of the federal government.[2] Experts have predicted that 2024 could be a very active year for antitrust enforcers.[3] It is clear that the U.S. government has been paying particular attention to these big technology companies recently. What does this mean for these technology companies and how could possible future action have an impact on consumers?

The Antitrust Concerns Within the Apple Ecosystem

The Antitrust Concerns Within the Apple Ecosystem

By Kaitlin Carroll

The US Department of Justice, along with 16 states, has recently filed a lawsuit against Apple for violating antitrust laws. Previous antitrust cases against Apple have pointed fingers at the high commission Apple receives on in-app purchases, restrictions on other developers’ music streaming apps, and attempts to fix prices on e-books.[1] Instead of pointing to one practice in particular, this lawsuit focuses more on the overall integration of Apple’s software and services across devices, and its refusal to allow the same seamless integration with non-Apple products.[2] The DOJ’s complaint states this abuse of power has led to Apple’s monopoly on the smartphone industry within the US.[3] While announcing the lawsuit during a press conference, Deputy AG Lisa Monaco stated that Apple’s tactics have “smothered an entire industry,” alleging that Apple limits third-party digital wallets, suppresses mobile cloud streaming services, blocks cross-platform messaging apps, and limits how well non-Apple smartwatches work with Apple devices.[4]

Being a monopoly in and of itself is not illegal, the issue arises when the monopoly is maintained using exclusionary methods, thereby stifling innovation and limiting consumer choice.[5] In this case, where is the line between a smart business strategy and an exclusionary practice? U.S Attorney General Merrick Garland says that Apple has gained their monopoly power not by innovating and making its own products better, but through making other products worse.[6]

One of the allegations, that Apple blocks cross-platform messaging, is in part referring to the “green bubble stigma” that many non-Apple users have felt.[7] Aside from the color, texting a non-Apple user also limits certain functions that iMessage users have come to rely on including high-quality photo sharing, message encryption, read receipts, typing indicators, and more.[8] The mobile phone industry as a whole has begun transitioning from the typical SMS (short message service) to RCS (rich communication services) which allows for better group messaging, high-resolution photo and video sharing, and message encryption.[9] After facing pressure from US and European regulators, Apple finally agreed to begin supporting RCS features for Android users—but the green bubbles will stay.[10]

The DOJ’s complaint also contends that by refusing to integrate software with non-Apple devices, Apple increases the “switching cost” that users face when trying to switch smartphones.[11] For example, the complaint states that since Apple Watches are exclusively compatible with iPhones, a customer with both an iPhone and Apple Watch might think twice before switching to an Android.[12]

Many of the exclusionary practices Apple is being accused of are reminiscent of the DOJ’s 1990 case against Microsoft.[13] There, the court found that Microsoft had invested significant resources in quashing competitors, including Apple. The DOJ asserts that the Microsoft ruling was pivotal in creating a healthier competition within the PC market and may have assisted Apple in reaching the success it has today.[14]

This case is expected to take years to resolve but ultimately the DOJ and others are hoping that this case fundamentally changes the way Apple does business in the US, and similarly to the Microsoft case, leads to healthier competition within the smartphone market.[15] Even with a ruling against Apple, the company would be expected to bounce back like Microsoft did after its lawsuit over twenty years ago.[16] For a company as strong as Apple, forcing them to play by the rules should only lead to more innovation and growth not only within the company but throughout the industry, which will then lead to more choices for consumers.

 

 

 

Image Source: https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-apples-imessage-is-winning-teens-dread-the-green-text-bubble-11641618009

[1] See United States v. Apple, 791 F.3d 290 (2nd Cir. 2015); Arjun Kharpal, Apple hit with more than $1.95 billion EU antitrust fine over music streaming, CNBC (Mar. 4, 2024, 7:14 AM), https://www.cnbc.com/2024/03/04/apple-hit-with-more-than-1point95-billion-eu-antitrust-fine-over-music-streaming.html#:~:text=The%20European%20Commission%2C%20the%20European,distribution%20of%20music%20streaming%20apps.

[2] Ben Thompson, United States v. Apple, Stratechery (Mar. 25, 2024), https://stratechery.com/2024/united-states-v-apple/.

[3] Id.

[4] Victoria Song, US v. Apple: everything you need to know, The Verge (Apr. 2, 2024, 7:00 AM), https://www.theverge.com/24107581/doj-v-apple-antitrust-monoply-news-updates.

[5]  Anticompetitive Practices, FTC (last visited Apr. 12, 2024), https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/anticompetitive-practices.

[6] Cristiano Lima-Strong, Justice Department, states accuse Apple of holding a smartphone monopoly, The Washington Post, (Apr. 21, 2014, 4:57 PM), https://washingtonpost.com/technology/2024/03/21/apple-doj-antitrust-lawsuit-smartphone/.

[7] Bobby Allyn, ‘Green bubble shaming’ at play in DOJ suit against Apple, NPR (Mar. 28, 2024; 5:48 PM), https://www.npr.org/2024/03/28/1241443505/green-bubble-shaming-android-apple-iphone.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] John Bergmayer, The DOJ Case Against Apple May Spur the Next Wave of Tech Innovation, Public Knowledge (Apr. 5, 2024), https://publicknowledge.org/the-doj-case-against-apple-may-spur-the-next-wave-of-tech-innovation/.

[12] Id.

[13] Anshel Sag, Apple’s DOJ Lawsuit Was Inevitable And Will Forever, Forbes (Apr. 5, 2024, 12:01 PM), https://www.forbes.com/sites/moorinsights/2024/04/05/apples-doj-lawsuit-was-inevitable-and-will-change-the-company-forever/?sh=5d9c84e616b7.

[14] Id.

[15] Id.

[16] Id.

Paper v. Paperless

Paper v. Paperless

By: Ashlyn Hilburn

The development of the internet has affected nearly every aspect of life. In the medical field, evolving technology not only led to an explosion of revolutionary treatments, but it also resulted in a change to how all medical records are kept. Electronic health records have received pushback from not only practitioners, but legal scholars as well.

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