Category Archives: Technology Matter

Cognitive Dissonance: The Government’s Case Against Lumosity And The Science Behind Brain Training

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By: Brian J. Meli

The human brain, with its billions of neurons and trillions of neural pathways, is thought to be able to process terabytes worth of information. Impressive as that might be, our brains cannot intuitively distinguish between health and wellness advertising containing scientifically proven efficacy claims and advertising that isn’t actually backed by sound medical research. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), aware of this limitation, requires that all health claims be supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. 

Unfortunately, that’s where the popular brain training company Lumosity seems to have, if you’ll pardon the expression, had a brain fart.

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So Gallantly Streaming: Content, Cable and The Coming Battle Over How American’s Watch TV

 

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By: Brian J. Meli

Cord-cutting is a term thrown around so loosely these days that it’s become a well-worn noun, used in jest to describe the growing, technologically astute consumer class credited with bringing about the reversal in cable TV’s dominance. “Cord-cutters,” in addition to claiming responsibility for flagging cable TV subscription growth, and for being the source of sleepless nights for many a cable exec, are increasingly coming to represent a lifestyle choice—one championed by a generation of bold, resourceful young consumers who’ve never known a world without the Internet.

That choice: to refuse to pay for content they don’t want and never asked for.

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Roamio, Wherefore Art Thou Aereo: TiVo Picks Up The Pieces Of A Once Promising Tech Disrupter

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By: Brian J. Meli

Aereo, the company responsible for putting the fear of God in the big four television networks, and for giving every IP attorney from New York to L.A. reason to re-read the Copyright Act’s Transmit Clause, is back in the news.

In case you missed last year’s Supreme Court decision, Aereo’s over-the-air streaming television service was ruled to be in violation of the Copyright Act, essentially starting the countdown on the company’s remaining time as a going concern. However, at the time of that verdict, the technology behind Aereo appeared to have legitimate value, and many predicted that an opportunistic buyer would eventually capitalize on that value. Now, it seems, that time has come.

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May The 4th Be With Your Brand: A Legal Guide To Making Star Wars Tributes

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By: Brian J. Meli

Once every year, the inner sci-fi geek in all of us gets a chance to reclaim a sliver of that wide-eyed wonder of youth, and unite with like-minded souls in a nostalgic embrace of the pop-culture phenomenon that imbued an entire generation with the solemn precept, “may the force be with you.” Thirty-seven years after the original Star Wars movie hit the big screen, May the 4th has become a force all its own—a day fans across the world come together to pay their respects to the galaxy’s most culturally significant space drama (apologies to Star Trek fans) and to celebrate its enduring legacy. The amplifying effect of social media has only intensified the day’s popularity, raising awareness among casual fans, while inspiring new generations of Star Wars disciples.

But May the 4th has become more than just a commemoration for the young at heart. It’s also a time when marketing managers begin thinking up innovative ways to honor the Star Wars legacy. Increasingly the day has become an opportunity for Fortune 500 companies—eager to connect with the movies’ legions of adoring fans—to link their brands to the Star Wars mystique; a fact that’s becoming more apparent with each passing year. Here’s just a small sampling of what some companies have done to mark the day on social media.

Paying homage to the Star Wars universe is nothing new. The franchise is famous for inspiring fan-created content from all corners of the universe; everything from street art to homemade short films. And the vast majority of it is unauthorized. The practice is so widespread that George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, was forced to embrace it officially rather than risk alienating the loyal fan base that helped turn his obscure space opera into a cultural movement.

However, as Jedi Master Yoda was keen on saying, “always in motion the future is.” Changing the times are, and circumstances are very different now than when the original Star Wars trilogy was in its heyday. For starters, the Star Wars properties are no longer owned by Lucasfilm, Lucas’ eponymous production company, but by The Walt Disney Company, who purchased Lucasfilm in late 2012 and has since assumed the ambitious task of evolving the franchise for a new audience by investing heavily in its future success. For another, the power of the Internet and social media have taken the production and distribution of fan content to levels that not even the most force-sensitive Jedi could have foreseen in the early 1980s. Long gone are the days when only the kid down the block with the Boba Fett jet pack could share in your Star Wars obsession. Nowadays fan sites can generate huge cult followings, and fan films, fan art and remixes and mash-ups can rival the quality of the genuine articles. While this has unleashed a new wave of amateur creativity that in many ways has been good for the movie business—generating buzz and expanding interest among the general public—it’s also precipitated the need for rights holders to increase their vigilance.

So this year, as May the 4th approaches, it’s worth taking a few minutes to consider the legal implications of paying corporate homage to Star Wars. Contrary to the mantra of the brash, no-nonsense space smuggler Han Solo—whose catch phrase “never tell me the odds” endeared him to audiences—some risks are worth measuring before making the jump to light-speed. So here are a few things to consider before your company channels the force this May the 4th:

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What Every Advertiser (And Ad Agency) Needs To Know About The FCC’s New Net Neutrality Rules, But Probably Doesn’t

 

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By: Brian J. Meli

As the smoke settles from the Federal Communications Commission’s recent decision to reclassify broadband service as a utility, and the tempest that is the net neutrality debate fades from the 24-hour news cycle, one could be forgiven for thinking it’s back to business as usual for broadband Internet service providers (ISPs). It’s also tempting to assume—what with net neutrality charting new highs in search volume, and Google News returning more than two million hits for the term—that everything worth writing about the subject has been written, several times over. But as we await the first lawsuits challenging the FCC’s authority to turn the broadband offerings of Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T & Co. into utility services, and the reinvigorated debate that comes with them, it’s important to understand that there’s more to this story than just making the Internet a more equal place. If you’re in the marketing or advertising business, a lot more. Because the FCC’s new Open Internet Order may soon bring changes to the way you do your job. Here’s how:

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Net Neutrality 2.0: Will The FCC’s New-Look Open Internet Be The Last Word?

 

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By: Brian J. Meli

2014 will, among other things, be remembered as the year the term ‘net neutrality’ was foisted upon the American public’s ever expanding e-lexicon. It began in earnest last January, when Verizon won its high-profile challenge to the FCC’s Open Internet Order, the official name for the Commission’s rules upholding the principle of net neutrality, requiring equal treatment for all web traffic without regard to source. The issue then picked up considerable steam in May when, in response to that ruling, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and his fellow commissioners approved a new plan that would scrap the concept of net neutrality as it was understood at the time, and create a new regulatory framework allowing Internet “fast lanes,” which deep-pocketed providers could pay for the privilege to use to push their content at higher speeds. You could say it reached fever pitch one month later when comedian John Oliver pilloried the FCC’s decision in this brilliantly conceived polemic, racking up eight million YouTube hits and cementing the issue in mainstream consciousness. Finally, as 2014 drew to a close, none other than President Obama himself voiced his unequivocal support for net neutrality in a direct address to the nation.

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Mobile Apprehension: The Growing Problem of Counterfeit and Pirated Mobile Applications

By: Brian J. Meli

Most, if not all high-profile consumer brands commit considerable time, energy and treasure to safeguarding their valuable trademark and copyright assets from would-be infringers. Those efforts tend to focus on rooting out domain name cybersquatters, keeping brand names and logos off of inferior knock-offs, stemming the illegal copying and distribution of copyright-protected merchandise, shutterstock_206076736 copyand shutting down the illicit websites that notoriously traffic in all of the above. But there’s a new front in the war on intellectual property, one where the threat posed by counterfeited and pirated goods has quietly become just as insidious. Far from the big-box shelves, the online auctions and the Internet landing pages that have long been the front lines of this conflict; hidden in plain sight only a few taps away, lies a large and expanding commercial ecosystem rife with infringement activity—a place that, until recently, has operated largely outside the focus of brand enforcement officials. This relatively new and dangerous frontier is the mobile app marketplace. Continue reading

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