The Future of Tech Law: Pirates and Their Toys (Which are the Same as Our Toys)

There’s a lot to be curious about after reading this USA Today article. The story covers federal authorities’ questioning of a movie-goer (during the movie) over his Google Glass. The theater was concerned about potential piracy. For the record, his Google Glass was turned off. This person uses Google Glass as his regular glasses, complete with prescription lenses. After a long time, the authorities brought in a computer and checked his device.

My first question was, “Was this some sort of sting? How did the federal agents get to the theater so quickly? Did the theater talk to them before-hand and have them on-call for the next time they saw someone with Google Glass?” Copyright is covered by federal law, but I am curious about the tactics and planning. Plus, I wonder what it means for tech law. Technology now seems to overlap all law.

And, according to this Tech Crunch article, the man questioned is an immigrant and a programmer. My next question is not a pleasant one, but I admit wondering, “Was he targeted in some way?” It seems a little odd that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would be involved. The FBI is the agency best known for addressing copyright infringement.

My perception of ICE was that it handles counterfeit issues that start in other countries, as well as immigration issues. How many years has the FBI warning started my movies? Add uncertainty about national surveillance and I’m sure a lot of people wondered about profiling, too.

A Teaching Moment – Collaboration Between Experts Across Technology and Law
For the record, the man has stressed that he does not believe he was profiled and wants to make this a teaching moment. Clearly, the tech and law enforcement communities need each other. Because of my background in international relations, I’ve paid more attention to the different branches of federal law enforcement than most people might. I didn’t realize the relevance of ICE to this incident right away. Even federal agencies have brands.

An Industry Struggles Against Casual Theft and Constant Annoyances
The film industry is facing a lot of challenges, many related to piracy. “Right-click Fever” as I call it has made theft rampant. For a wonderful bit of psychology on this issue check out the recent episode of the Simpsons, Steal this Episode, which, by the way, features the cartoon FBI. Plus, mobile phones have become a guaranteed nuisance, bringing down the experience theaters can offer in addition to potentially lifting flicks.

The Future of Tech Law
Here’s the challenge: Google Glass is not only a recording device. Like all of our devices, it has many valid uses. I don’t think this challenge is actually new. Many objects can be used for their intended use, some borderline activity or outright crime. However, these devices cover so many aspects of our lives it can be hard for the laws to keep up. The way information spreads in today’s world complicates matters as well.

How I Could Help
With a background in international relations and a strong interest in tech law, I would be an ideal candidate to help bridge the gap that is affecting tech law. I know education technologist is a title, what about criminal technologist? I imagine that job would studying patterns of criminal activity. It would also mean looking at the role of technology. Plus it would need to include researching and testing possible solutions for the future of tech law. Don’t forget training law enforcement professionals. Sounds great, right? It does to me.

As a writer and content strategist, I excel at organizing content and showing people why it matters. Imagine that skill in the context of bridging the gap between the legal and tech communities. Luckily for me, there are plenty of contexts in which I can apply my writing and strategy skills, because I don’t see that title popping up any time soon.

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