Sharing Space…Literally.

By: Golzar Yazdanshenas

 

Space Debris

 

“We are going to build a road to space, and then amazing things will happen.” – Jeff Bezos

Lead CEO’s such as Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Dennis Muilenburg are discussing building the necessary space vessels to make living outside of this world possible. However, space, like the high seas, is a tricky territory to navigate, since no one country has any actual rights over it or legal claim to it. So before we venture into discussions about future enterprises in space, it would be prudent to assess potential legal issues that may arise

For instance, many countries would like to set up space stations and mine various materials such as water, gold, platinum, and rare earth elements from the moon. In 1979, the UN proposed the Moon Agreement, which would allow countries to carry out this goal by essentially setting up an international regime to govern the feasible exploitation of the moon’s resources. However, only 11 countries have ratified it, and some of the most important countries in the history of space exploration – US, China, and Russia- have yet to ratify this Agreement.

Many people believe that the world should approach extracting resources from Earth’s Moon in the same way that the US has approached extracting resources from asteroids. In 2015, Congress passed the SPACE Act, which allowed private American companies and citizens to keep space resources that were not biologically alive (minerals, metals, ore, elements, and other natural resources), which they extracted from celestial bodies (predominantly asteroids and deep space moons). The goal of this type of “space mining” is to sell the resources from these celestial bodies to companies that will use the resources to fuel other space operations from Earth. However, space mining is not the only area of space colonization where the laws have yet to be firmly established.

Space debris is another area where both countries and companies may face liability. There are more than 500,000 pieces of space debris floating around Earth’s orbit, and over 166 million objects floating around between 1 mm to 1 cm in size.  Currently, the Outer Space Treaty (the “Treaty”) has established that each launching nation is responsible for the space debris damage they cause. Under the Treaty, each launching nation owns both its space property and its debris in perpetuity. However, the laws concerning space debris liability may need to be revisited due to the large increase in space debris and the dangers arising from such an increase. Current laws require permission from the owner of the space debris to remove the debris. However, James A. Vedda, a senior policy analyst, believes that the laws should be amended to allow for the quick and efficient removal of space debris by non-owner parties. Luckily, Article XV of the Outer Space Treaty does allow for amendment of the Treaty by any state party to the Treaty.

Thus, as space technology advances, we must update our space laws to address the consequences of such advancements and expansions into space.  It would be wise for the law to address such things as disposal of space junk and interstellar mining rights before we start sending Earth’s population out into space to colonize the unknown.

Golzar Yazdanshenas is a second-year law student at Wake Forest University School of Law. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and several minors, including a minor in Science Technology & Law from Virginia Tech. Upon graduation, she intends to practice in both corporate and intellectual property law. 

Driverless Cars: Friend or Foe?

By: Golzar Yazdanshenas, Summer Blogger

 

Autonomous Vehicle

In a 2019 interview, inventor and entrepreneur Elon Musk stated: “I think we will be ‘feature-complete’ on full self-driving this year, meaning the car will be able to find you in a parking lot, pick you up, take you all the way to your destination without an intervention this year.” Many experts are skeptical of Musk’s predictions, claiming the technology needed to make fully autonomous cars is years away.

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Inception: The Future of IP in Virtual Reality

 

Picture1By: Aaron Johnston, Summer Blogger

From author Michael Crichton’s forward-thinking novel Disclosure to popular films such as Iron ManMinority Report, and Star Trek – science fiction has been predicting our future adventures in virtual and augmented reality for decades. Technology has advanced to make virtual and augmented realities believable and obtainable. Both virtual and augmented realities are likely to make a significant impact in the coming decade. The question is how will intellectual property law catch up?

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Tax and the Loss of Recession-Fighting Tools

Stock MarketBy: Dylan Ray, Summer Blogger

Economic activity, which reflects the balance between buying and selling assets, can be manipulated. In times of recession, with decreased economic activity, the government usually attempts to increase demand. For example, the Federal Reserve boosts economic activity, by reducing interest rates, in times of recession. Similarly, Congress can improve the economy, when it experiences a recession, by altering the tax regime and increasing capital investment. However, with the 2018 enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), Congress implemented aggressive depreciation provisions, which are no longer available to combat a forthcoming recession. Continue reading »

A Horrifying Prospect for Studios and Production Companies

By: Cameron Rush, Summer Bloggerfriday13th-3479595_640

Last fall, the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut issued a summary judgment opinion in the case of Horror Inc. v. Miller which could have far-reaching implications for the relationships between screenwriters, studios, and production companies. In a fight for control of the “Friday the 13th” franchise, the court sided with screenwriter Victor Miller, allowing him to reclaim the rights to the script under a provision of the Copyright Act commonly known as the “termination right.” Continue reading »

SCOTUS Patently Denies the U.S. Postal Service’s Personhood

By: Mary Jasperse, Summer Blogger

Mail

On June 10, 2019, the Supreme Court ruled that federal government agencies do not qualify as a “person” under the 2011 Leahy-Smith America Invents Act (“AIA”) in Return Mail, Inc. v. United States Postal Service. Because of this, government agencies cannot challenge the validity of a patent via covered-business-method review (“CBM”), a type of post-grant patent review.

The AIA is thought to be the most significant reform in U.S. patents since the 1950s. Most importantly, it changed the U.S. patent system from first-to-invent to first-to-file. The AIA also created new mechanisms to challenge patents.

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California’s Consumer Privacy Act: An Underwhelming First Step

Picture1 By: Brian Lewis, Summer Blogger

“Senator, we run ads.” During his 2018 testimony before the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committee, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s patronizing response to then-Senator Orrin Hatch’s rudimentary question illustrates the elusive nature of Facebook’s business operations. Nearly 70% of Americans use Facebook. Many Americans support regulating social networking sites to ensure their data are secure. For the supporters of social media regulation, the new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) may not be the “model” regulation many claim it will be.

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Uh Oh, Opioids!

By: Mary Jasperse, Summer Blogger

Branded Oxycodone 10mg

In 2017, The New Yorker published an expose on the Sackler Family and their company, Purdue Pharma, that blew the top off of a modern American scandal. This entrepreneurial family became one of the wealthiest in America, amassing a net worth of over thirteen billion dollars in a matter of years. The key to their success has been OxyContin, an oxycodone pain medication chemically similar to morphine. Though no more effective than similar products, OxyContin became the brand leader through aggressive marketing and promotion from Purdue Pharma. As a result of this vigorous campaigning, annual prescriptions for OxyContin increased from 600,000 thousand to 6 million.

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Aurora: The Computer of the Future

By: Samantha Moench

On March 18, 2019, Argonne National Laboratory released more information about Aurora, “America’s next-generation supercomputer.” Intel has teamed up with the Department of Energy (“DOE”) to create the computer at Argonne’s lab facility which is estimated to cost upwards of $500 million. Cray Inc.—known for its 45 years of building the “world’s most advanced supercomputers” will be a sub-contractor on the deal. Together, Cray Inc. and Intel will work to construct “the fastest supercomputer in U.S. history.”  Continue reading »

NC Sets Sail for the Supreme Court: “Blackbeard’s Law” and Modern Day Piracy

By: Killoran Long

https://pixabay.com/photos/naval-battle-ship-sailing-vessel-3195409/ At the beginning of this year, a North Carolina videographer escalated a copyright fight with the State of North Carolina to the U.S. Supreme Court. Rick Allen, co-owner of Fayetteville based Nautilus Productions, LLC, is alleging the State of North Carolina and the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources are guilty of copyright infringement regarding images related to the recovery of the Queen Anne’s Revenge.

The Queen Anne’s Revenge (“QAR”) was Blackbeard’s flagship vessel and was commandeered and then used by the infamous English pirate to conduct his activities during the early 1700s. While Blackbeard operated from the eastern coast of the American colonies, down to the West Indies, he is particularly notorious throughout North Carolina history for his exploits along the coast. It was believed that Blackbeard ran the QAR aground off the coast of Beaufort, North Carolina in the summer of 1718, which was confirmed in 1996 when a private research firm found the wreckage. Continue reading »