From Deepfakes to Eminem

Young scholars' analysis included in national IP anthology

One of the nation’s premier publishers of scholarship on intellectual property is featuring cutting-edge works by a Suffolk Law student and a May 2020 graduate in its “Entertainment, Publishing and the Arts Handbook,” an anthology of the best law review articles of the last year.

Thompson Reuters (West) will publish “The Real Slim Shady: How Spotify and Other Music Streaming Services Are Taking Advantage of the Loopholes Within the Music Act,” by Jillian J. Dahrooge, Class of 2021, and “Digital Fame: Amending the Right of Publicity to Combat Advances in Face-Swapping Technology," by Hayley Duquette JD’20.

Both pieces appeared in recent issues of Suffolk Law’s Journal of High Technology Law, a student-run journal.

Dahrooge’s work assesses Eight Mile Style v. Spotify, a U.S. district court case brought by rapper Eminem, whose songs have been streamed more than 4 billion times. The suit highlights some of the holes in the Music Modernization Act (MMA), she says. “Eminem is not being paid royalties for his millions of streams on Spotify,” she says. “If this is happening to someone as famous as Eminem, then it is affecting a huge number of artists who post their content on streaming platforms.”

The MMA sought to revise copyright law to address music streaming more fairly, she says — for example, allowing artists to get paid by streaming services and ensuring that their copyright was protected. Nonetheless, she argues, problems persist; the MMA has hidden details that shore up company profits at the expense of fair treatment for artists.

Duquette’s article looks at the advancement of artificial intelligence face-swapping technology, commonly known as deepfakes, and the legal challenges that public figures face in preventing others from using their image without permission. The article discusses a branch of intellectual property law, the “right of publicity,” which allows people to treat their image as a commercial asset and prevent its unauthorized use. Given technological advancements that make it easier to misappropriate a person’s image, right of publicity laws should be reformed, she argues.

“We’re proud of Jillian and Hayley for their discipline and their willingness to wrestle with cutting-edge IP issues. Such scholarship takes a lot of time and energy,” says Suffolk’s IP concentration co-director Professor Rebecca Curtin. The school does offer practical support, she adds, in the form of “our top-five-ranked legal writing program, which provides a great foundation.”

“The Journal of High Technology Law and the wide range of niche, cutting-edge IP coursework we offer put our students in the thick of some very interesting IP discussions,” she adds.