Topic: Legal

Legal side of Reputation Management

Esports Doping: An Overview 0

esports doping overview legalEsports is on the rise, and so is the esports doping problem.

Esports Performance Enhancing Drugs

Endurance athletes (i.e., swimmers, cyclists) typically use performance enhancing drugs to hasten recovery times and increase stamina. Esports athletes, on the other hand, want to increase reflexes and improve concentration; so, they experiment with behavior modification drugs, like Ritalin and Adderall. Stimulants are also popular among gamers looking for a pharmaceutical edge.

Are There Formal Esports Anti-Doping Programs?

In 2015, a Counter-Strike player fessed up to using Adderall for a tournament. In response, the Electronic Sports League (ESL) — a leading event producer — cobbled together an anti-doping initiative, adopting WADA’s 2015 banned substances list, which includes everything from anabolic steroids to cannabis to prescription drug agents. The ESL enforces the bans by conducting random saliva tests at events.

Lars Mortsiefer of Germany’s National Anti-Doping Agency explained that his group supports “the ESL in education and doping prevention.” Though he went on to caution that yes, “NADA can help esports implement these anti-doping rules, but it can only happen when a clear set of rules has been created.”

Esports Doping: Know The Banned Substances List and Secure TUEs

Recently, an executive at the Esports Integrity Coalition addressed doping. He reminded attendees that the industry’s growth is, in part, contingent on how it handles the issue. But some people wonder: Is this anti-PED push a PR creature that lacks enforcement teeth? Time will tell.

In the meantime, players should familiarize themselves with the ESL’s banned substances list. People with conflicting, but legitimate, prescriptions should secure TUEs — therapeutic use exemptions — from their doctors, to avoid censure.

Kelly / Warner Law works with esports athletes, teams, leagues, and sponsors. Get in touch any time.

Article Sources

(www.dw.com), D. W. (n.d.). Anti-doping efforts still in their infancy in eSports | Sports | DW | 21.07.2017. Retrieved September 26, 2017, from http://www.dw.com/en/anti-doping-efforts-still-in-their-infancy-in-esports/a-39783790

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Source: Kelly Warner Law

Are In-Person Bitcoin Sales Legal? 0

in-person Bitcoin sales legalAre in-person Bitcoin sales a crim? Is it OK for U.S. residents to use sites like localbitcoins.com? To answer both questions: In some instances, yes it is; in others, no it’s not. Everything depends on frequency and jurisdiction.

Bitcoin Business Crimes: The SEC’s Stance

We’re in the midst of a cryptocurrency boom. Unfortunately, inchoate fintech regulations make for unclear transactional parameters. This year alone, at least four U.S. citizens have pleaded guilty to improper fiat-to-crypto currency exchanges. As such, people are asking: “If the SEC hasn’t officially declared Bitcoin and other altcoins to be securities in and of themselves, why are Bitcoiners getting busted?”

For starters, even though the SEC hasn’t officially declared all digital currencies intrinsic securities, financial vehicles and ICOs featuring cryptocurrency components often fall under the securities umbrella. In fact, the agency recently published an alert regarding the potentially risky nature of initial coin offerings and further outlined registration requirements for digital currency investment opportunities.

“Operating An Illegal Money Transmission Business”

In 2013, the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network instituted licensing requirements for Bitcoin re-sellers. The rule specifically targeted parties selling cryptocurrencies “as a business.” Some states, like New York, followed the network’s lead and passed Cryptocurrency licensing laws.

Frequency Matters

The “as a business” stipulation is crucial. A single transaction doesn’t amount to a business, but frequents transactions are another story. A Palo Alto-based attorney, with whom Motherboard.com spoke, explained: “If you come to me and ask to buy $100 worth of Bitcoin and I sell that to you, in no state is that sole activity considered to be money transmission. It must occur in a sufficient frequency and volume and you have to accept all comers. It’s a fact-based test.”

So, what’s the bottom line? Well, first and foremost, the law is a case-by-case journey. Just as no two people are exactly alike, neither are any two lawsuits. A minuscule detail can radically alter an outcome. Caveats aside, and generally speaking, the SEC probably (not definitely) won’t consider one-off, in-person Bitcoin sales probably businesses. Two or more, though, may land you in the company category, which would require registration.

People Have Landed In Legal Trouble Over In-Person Bitcoin Sales

Earlier this summer, a grand jury accused two Arizona men with “operating an unlicensed money transmitting business” between 2013 and 2017. Motherboard sniffed around and found a localbitcoins.com account bearing one of the defendant’s aliases. According to the media outlet, the account in question conducted over a hundred transactions. Again, every time an individual engages in an in-person token sale, the likelihood of being classified as regulation-bound business increases.

Similarly, a man in New York offered a legal mea culpa after “conducting over 100 bitcoin transactions ‘locally and across the United States.’” And in Detroit, the long arm of the law grabbed someone suspected of laundering $2.4 million in tokens through another business account.

Not All States Are Clamoring For Cryptocurrency Regulation

Some states, like New York and Washington, have embraced a regulatory approach to cryptocurrency sales; others are choosing a different path. In the not too distant past, a Florida judge tossed an in-person Bitcoin sales case because “selling bitcoins isn’t the same as transmitting money to a third party.” Who knows, maybe Bitcoin will be for the Sunshine State what Gambling was for Las Vegas.

Connect With A Cryptocurrency Lawyer

Kelly / Warner is a top-rated legal practice that works with startups on their ICOs and other governance matters. If you have legal questions regarding cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings, we have answers.

Article Sources

Pearson, J. (2017, July 18). People Keep Getting Charged With a Crime for Selling Bitcoin. Retrieved September 26, 2017, from https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/j5qa7y/people-keep-getting-charged-with-a-crime-for-selling-bitcoin

Britschgi, C. (2017, July 04). Phoenix Neurologist is Charged With Selling Bitcoin Without a License. Retrieved September 26, 2017, from http://reason.com/blog/2017/07/04/phoenix-neurologist-is-charged-with-sell

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Source: Kelly Warner Law

New Essay: The Ten Most Important Section 230 Rulings 0

[It’s impossible to blog about Section 230 without reminding you that it remains highly imperiled.]

I’ve posted a new essay entitled “The Ten Most Important Section 230 Rulings.” It will be published in the Tulane Journal of Technology & Intellectual Property.

Everyone loves lists and rankings, but this essay is more than just fluffy clickbait. Organizing Section 230 cases by importance actually creates a helpful narrative about the development of Section 230 jurisprudence and the ongoing dialogue between different judges and courts. I’m pretty sure you can guess what’s #1 on the list (and we’ll be throwing it a proper 20th birthday party–more on that soon), and maybe you can guess #2, but can you guess #3 or #4? Would you reorder my list? Would you subtract one of my top 10 and replace with something different? Wars have broken out over lesser controversies. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts, and feel free to thrash out the debate in the comments, too.

The abstract:

In 1996, Congress enacted the Telecommunications Act of 1996, a major statutory reform of the telecommunications industry. The act included the Communications Decency Act (CDA), Congress’ first (and unconstitutional) regulation of the Internet. The CDA principally criminalized online pornography, but it also included 47 U.S.C. § 230 (Section 230), which says that websites aren’t legally responsible for third party content.

While somewhat overshadowed at the time by the Telecommunications Act and the CDA’s criminal provisions, Section 230 has emerged as one of Congress’ most important accomplishments of the 1990s. Section 230 has been described as “the law that gave us the modern Internet,” the “most important law in tech,” and “the law that makes the Internet go.” All of the top 10 most-trafficked websites (as ranked by Alexa) republish third party content, and nine of those sites depend on Section 230 to do so. In effect, Section 230 provides the legal foundation for the Internet we know and love the most.

Since its passage, Section 230 has been litigated hundreds of times. This jurisprudence has profoundly impacted the law’s scope and reach — and has sparked intense policy discussions, including recently introduced Congressional bills seeking to reverse one of the cases discussed below (Doe v. Backpage).

A review of the most important Section 230 cases tells a story about how the case law has built such an important yet controversial immunity. This essay takes that journey by rank-ordering the top Section 230 cases of the past two decades.

 


Source: Eric Goldman Legal

The Uniform Regulation of Virtual Currency Business Act: What Is It? 0

picture of law books on shelf to accompany blog post about Uniform Regulation of Virtual Currency Business ActIn the not too distant past, anti-regulation bitcoiner Theo Chino sent a letter to the Uniform Law Commission (ULC), urging the group not to meddle in cryptocurrency just yet. Welp, it appears the panel didn’t heed his advice, because the legislative review body recently green lit the Uniform Regulation of Virtual Currency Business Act.

First things First: What Is The ULC?

Mainly, the ULC creates state law templates to ensure federal compliance and a degree of — albeit, mutable — national legislative conformity.

Yes, states do enjoy significant legislative autonomy, but they’re still beholden to federal statutes. And yes, laws differ by state, but a certain degree of statutory continuity helps maintain a healthy market and social stability, nationwide. That’s where the ULC comes into play; the group drafts “ideal” pieces of legislation that comply with federal parameters. States can then choose — or not choose — to run proposals through the ratification process and tweak measures to best fit their respective jurisdictions.

The Uniform Regulation of Virtual Currency Business Act

The Uniform Regulation of Virtual Currency Business Act is a piece of draft legislation that addresses licensing requirements, reciprocity, consumer protection, cyber security, money laundering prevention, and supervision of bitcoins, ether, and other tokens.

A long time in the making, the ULC has been working on the draft for two years.  And perhaps a boon for fintech companies, Coin Center, a virtual currency trade group, worked closely with commissioners during the process.

When Will The Uniform Regulation of Virtual Currency Business Act Go Into Effect?

Since the ULC is not a governing body, the Act may never see the light of day in certain states. Some states may choose to adopt it; other states may tweak parts or refuse to adopt the measure. But before it’s even presented to states for consideration, the American Bar Associations House of Delegates must first scrutinize and approve it.

Connect With A Cryptocurrency Lawyer

Kelly / Warner works with startups and established businesses in the fintech and cryptocurrency space. Our team handles everything from negotiating contracts to litigation.

To learn more about the firm head to the About Us section of the website. If you’re ready to speak with a cryptocurrency lawyer, get in touch.

Want to read more about Bitcoin and altcoin legalities? Please head to the virtual currency section of our blog.

Article Sources

Cummings, D. (2017, July 20). ULC Approves Proposal For The Regulation Of Virtual Currency Businesses. Retrieved September 25, 2017, from https://www.ethnews.com/ulc-approves-proposal-for-the-regulation-of-virtual-currency-businesses

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Source: Kelly Warner Law

5-Year Jail Sentence For Fake Review Scammer 0

ecommerce jailHere’s some e-commerce marketing advice: Don’t buy fake reviews! We get it; it’s tempting — but also against regulations! And in China, it can land you a five-year stint in the pokey.

(A quick a note: Although this cautionary tale unfolds in China, U.S. online sellers should pay attention because similar schemes have found their way stateside. Remember: Businesses are responsible for third-party promotions carried out on their behalves. U.S. e-commerce entrepreneurs probably won’t land in jail for using fake review services; but they could end up in a world of financial hurt, courtesy of crushing FTC fines.)

The Brushing Ballad of Mr. Li

Li was his last name and “brushing” — (e.g., faking e-commerce transactions and falsifying reviews) — was his game. He opened shop in 2013 and mainly worked with sellers on Taobao (think: Amazon.com of China). At the request of brands, Li enlisted people to purchase empty packages and post fake — but glowing — reviews. The process helped sellers climb Alibaba’s “credibility” ladder, giving them prime search real estate. By 2014, Li had pocketed nearly one million yuan.

Eventually, however, authorities caught up with the brusher. During his trial, Li said he knew he was breaking Taobao’s rules but didn’t think he was breaching the law. Ultimately, authorities sentenced Li to five years. He’s also on the hook for 920,000 yuan (US $135,000) for “breaking national regulations, knowingly spreading fake information online through publishing services for profit, and disrupting the market order with serious consequences.”

Brushing Is Big, Risky Business

Fake purchase and review operations — a.k.a., “brushing” services — are big, underground business in China, and increasingly in the United States. In 2014, experts estimate that nearly 700 companies, along with 500 chat groups, facilitated brushing scams on over 600 billion yuan worth of sales. Just recently, over 50 people “were arrested in Heilongjiang on suspicion of cheating Taobao stores out of 2.47 million yuan.”

Alibaba, China’s top e-commerce platform, also expanded its fraud-busting efforts. Over the past year, the online retailer has punished over 20,000 sellers for using false transaction services. During the same period, Alibaba banned an additional 6,000 accounts for egregious acts of consumer deception.

Fake Review Enforcement Actions: Genuine or Fake?

Are fake review companies the only phonies?

Many businesses argue that online retail platforms are also knee-deep in deception. But instead of trading in phony reviews, they exaggerate efforts to combat fraud.

Despite detractors, though, Zheng Junfang, Alibaba Group’s chief platform governance officer, recently explained to a media outlet: “Taobao has always dealt strongly with credibility-distorting behavior. We currently have a number of measures in place to counter this, including a verification system, manual audits, and a reporting system for users.”

Are fake reviews issues affecting your business? We Can Help.

As consultants who regularly work with e-commerce professionals, we’ve seen the damaging effects of phony reviews. More importantly, we’ve developed solutions that help companies bounce back.

If an online review matter is causing you problems, let’s talk. Our team has worked with hundreds of businesses — large and small. To read more about online trade libel, head to the consumer review section of our blog.

If you’re ready to discuss your situation with an experienced attorney who can explain your options, please get in touch.

Article Sources

Tone, S. (2017, June 22). In Judicial First, Man Imprisoned for Fake Taobao Reviews. Retrieved September 18, 2017, from http://www.sixthtone.com/news/1000374/in-judicial-first%2C-man-imprisoned-for-fake-taobao-reviews

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Source: Kelly Warner Law