Back at the end of October Amazon announced a new dongle for your TV called the Amazon Fire TV Stick. The small HDMI device compares itself to Google’s Chromecast but bolsters some more powerful hardware as well as its own UI with physical remote. At the time of the announcement Amazon placed the Fire TV Stick up for pre-order. If you happened to be a Prime member you were able to grab the $39 unit for $19 during a short 48 hour window. Amazon planned to start shipping the pre-ordered units today.
In an announcement from Amazon, they have indeed confirmed that shipments for the pre-orders have started to go out. However, the demand was quite a bit higher than they anticipated.
“Fire TV Stick has been our most successful device launch ever,” said Dave Limp, Senior Vice President, Amazon Devices. “We built a ton of these, but customer demand still outpaced our supply. We’re excited by the overwhelming customer response and the team is working hard to build more as quickly as possible.”
Needless to say, many pre-order buyers are going to be waiting quite a while for their Fire TV Sticks to arrive. I myself ordered one on October 28th, the last possible minute for the Prime promotion, and my estimated deliver date is set for January 9th. Currently Amazon has the Fire TV Stick listed to return to stock on January 15th which certainly doesn’t make it a hot device for the Holiday season now.
For those of you that are getting yours a bit sooner, then you will most likely want to go get your hands on the new Android app that was released today, Amazon Fire TV Remote. The Fire TV Remote app is the companion app for your phone and/or tablet. While the Fire TV Stick does come with a physical remote, the app gives you voice search functionality along with the ability to type on your device’s screen keyboard. Those that have experienced trying to type out something with a pointer on a TV screen knows just how painstaking that task can be.
The app is available now and is, of course, free. Feel free to pick it up below so you don’t forget, but don’t expect it to be functional at all until your Fire TV Stick arrives and is connected to your Wi-Fi network.
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In July 2014, Lindsay Lohan sued Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar Games, claiming that Grand Theft Auto V featured a character who is allegedly based on the Mean Girls actress. According to the suit, filed in the New York Supreme Court, the cover of the game depicts a bikini-clad woman who bears a striking resemblance to LiLo. And the game itself apparently consists of more similarities, including the fact that the character runs from paparazzi, takes cover in the Chateau Marmont and incorporates Lohan’s “image, likeness, clothing, outfits, [Lohan’s] clothing line products, ensemble in the form of hats, hair style, sunglasses [and] jean shorts.”
Also in July, former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega filed suit in California Superior Court against Activision Blizzard Inc., the makers of Call of Duty: Black Ops II, for using his likeness without permission. According to the complaint, Activision depicted Noriega as “a kidnapper, murderer and enemy of the state,” (the audacity!) and the makers implied that he was “the culprit of numerous fictional heinous crimes, creating the false impression that defendants are authorized to use [his] image and likeness.”
Lohan’s and Noriega’s suits were filed in two different states, and because of this, the applicable laws vary a bit. Lohan’s battle is ongoing while Noriega’s has been dismissed. One involves a celebrity, and the other a political figure. On the face of it, these two suits don’t have all that much in common. The thread that connects them both — and most lawsuits involving the use of a person’s likeness in a video game — is the right of publicity.
WHAT IS IT?
In general, the right of publicity grants individuals the authority to control the commercial use of his or her own name and/or likeness. This right means that you can’t create an ad for new basketball shoes with Michael Jordan in it unless he’s given his consent. Simple enough!
Noriega’s Call of Duty likeness
Naturally, there are a couple of considerations that make it a little more complicated. First of all, as previously mentioned, right of publicity laws vary from state to state. A number of states have passed specific statutes regulating the right of publicity; others just have common law rights (meaning precedent established by case law); some have both; and a handful have neither.
In New York, where Lohan’s suit was filed, the right of publicity law is codified as part of its Right of Privacy statute and is primarily covered in two sections (Section 50 and Section 51). As is pretty typical, Lohan sued with reference to both sections. Section 50 is much shorter than Section 51, basically just defining a right of publicity violation as a misdemeanor. Section 51, on the other hand, provides protection for a person’s name, portrait, picture and voice. To constitute a violation of Section 51, a use of a person’s identity must be: within New York state, for advertising or trade purposes and without written consent.
Compare that to California, where Noriega brought suit. California not only offers a statutory right, but also offers a common law right. California’s statutory right is fairly similar to New York’s, protecting against the unauthorized use of a person’s name, voice, signature, photograph or likeness for purposes of advertising, selling or soliciting. The common law right, however, is much broader and requires a person bringing suit to show that the use of his or her identity was for another’s advantage (commercially or otherwise), it was without consent and there’s a resulting “injury.” So, unlike the statutory right, the common law right is not limited to a commercial use of a person’s identity. Oftentimes, a lawsuit in California claims a violation of both the common law and the statute.
And second, as with most things involving the law, there is a heavily relied-on defense to a right of publicity claim. Gaming companies that are sued related to a right of publicity often claim First Amendment protection in the use in question.
When a court is faced with a First Amendment defense to a right of publicity claim, the “transformative use test” is applied to determine whether or not a company’s First Amendment rights trump a right of publicity. Whoa, legal jargon! Not to worry: All this really means is that a court is looking to see if there are substantial “transformative” elements added to the use of a person’s likeness instead of just the mere depiction of a person. In essence, when “a product containing a celebrity’s likeness is so transformed that it has become primarily the defendant’s own expression rather than the celebrity’s likeness,” the First Amendment is a legitimate defense to a right of publicity claim.
WHAT’S THE ARGUMENT?
On one hand, a person should obviously have the right to control the use of his or her own likeness. In the same way that a brand can protect its name with a trademark, a celebrity or public figure should be able to limit where his or her likeness is used. Their “brand” is their identity.
And when there’s no change — or not enough to be deemed “transformative” — to a celebrity’s likeness, courts tend to agree. In one case, the Court of Appeals of California for the Second District found that Band Hero‘s use of avatars that looked like No Doubt band members was not transformative. The court reasoned that the graphics and other elements in the background were not enough to transform the avatars into anything other than “literal recreations of the band members.”
But the First Amendment is a pretty huge trump card, and courts are apt to tread lightly when it comes to limiting the First Amendment’s protection of artistic and creative works. In 2006, a California court held that the First Amendment protected Sega’s use of attributes from singer Kierin Kirby for the character Ulala (from Space Channel 5). The court pointed out, “The freedom of expression protected by the First Amendment exists to preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas and to further individual rights of self expression.” And it went on to note, “Video games are expressive works entitled to as much First Amendment protection as the most profound literature.”
WHY SHOULD I CARE?
One reason to care is that lawsuits like the ones brought by Lohan and Noriega have potential First Amendment implications. These cases will often ask a court to consider whether or not using someone’s likeness in an expressive work like a video game should qualify for First Amendment protection. And if and when a court says that certain uses do not qualify for said protection, the argument is often made that free speech is being stifled.
As if that’s not enough, maybe you care simply because you’re involved in the creation of video games. If you’re in this group, it’s definitely worthwhile to know what can be expected before you decide to incorporate a public figure or celebrity likeness into a game.
And finally, you might just care because you buy and play video games and want to know if any of your beloved characters could be at the center of a lawsuit. You know, caveat emptor and all.
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
And why wouldn’t you? If you want to know whether or not your state has a statute and what it says, rightofpublicity.com is the place to go. Or, if you’re interested in the general do’s and don’ts related to using the name and likeness of another, the Digital Media Law Protect has you covered.
[Image credits: Rockstar Games (GTA V); Activision (Call of Duty, Band Hero)]
Dragon Age: Inquisition is an immense fantasy epic, a sprawling adventure across the many landscapes of Thedas, unapologetically mature in its exploration of politics and brazen in its combat. Inquisition is also developer BioWare’s redemption song. It’s everything that a sequel to Dragon Age: Origins should have been, and time will slip by as players enjoy the hundred hours of escapades it delivers.
The end of Inquisition‘s spectacular first act gave me chills. The last time I can recall that feeling is when the Normandy was reintroduced in Mass Effect 2. It’s the chill of being at the beginning of a grand story and anticipation for what’s to come.
Well if you just got an Nvidia Shield tablet like I did then good news, the Android 5.0 Lollipop update isn’t far behind. One lucky LTE Shield owner has posted a screenshot of the 2.0 Shield OTA update which shows some very exciting updates coming to all Shield owners. Before I get into it, this was a private OTA that the owner received on Nov 15th but that doesn’t mean it’s any less exciting. According to the screenshot posted by Vincent S, this update brings quite a few goodies for Shield tablet owners. Here are some of the more notable ones; Android 5.0 Lollipop, an updated Nvidia Grid (Nvidia’s on demand gaming service), update for Nvidia Dabbler, support for 4K output and various other tweaks/fixes to keep your Shield tablet running smooth.
I think after this update my Shield tablet will keep me from even thinking about getting the HTC Nexus 9 anytime soon. In both build quality and just sheer awesomeness I feel the Shield tablet just outperforms the Nexus 9 in more ways then one (queue benchmarks and trolls). But anyway, the official update is slated to arrive today, Nov. 18th, so get your “System Update” finger ready and pray that Nvidia has graced your Shield tablet with Lollipop goodness.
Source: Gadgetz Arena
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BitTorrent’s experiments with paid music and video bundles have clearly seen some early success — and accordingly, it’s opening up the floodgates. The peer-to-peer service now lets any artist apply to distribute content through paywall-based downloads, whether they’re releasing music, apps or movies. As before, the allure is the sheer flexibility that artists get in deciding not just what you pay for, but when you pay for it. A musician might let the first 500 downloaders listen to an album for free, for instance, but can ask latecomers to pay for some or all of the songs. They also get 90 percent of the revenue instead of the 70 percent they get from most online music services, so there’s a chance they’ll take home more money if they produce a hit.
The company’s Straith Schreder notes that these new bundles won’t all be released right away; instead, they’re being sent in “batches” to ensure a smooth rollout. Still, this wider launch could make a big impact on media distribution. Performers like Taylor Swift and Thom Yorke regularly criticize services like Spotify and iTunes for not just giving artists less money, but frequently dictating an all-or-nothing approach to selling content. Now that BitTorrent’s paid platform is available to everyone, you could see more artists shy away from conventional publishing when it’s either unprofitable or too restrictive.
[Image credit: Duncan Geere, Flickr]
Google Keep has become a modest alternative to Evernote for those looking to keep their entire workflow within the confines of Mountain View’s app arsenal. With today’s update, the productivity software will allow you to share those idea boards and to-do lists amongst your cohorts so that everyone who’s privy to the info knows exactly what needs to be done. The new version also offers improved search that filters notes by color, sharing, images and more. Now that you can find and distribute items easily, there’s really no excuse for someone forgetting the milk. In addition to outfitting Android devices, the sharing feature is available for use on the web and via the Chrome Web Store.
Source: Official Android Blog
Now that the Nexus devices have started receiving their update to Android Lollipop, the focus has no shifted to their stock Android brethren, the Google Play Edition (GPE) devices. Although these devices have to be updated by their respective manufacturers, the GPE devices still get their updates quite soon after the Nexus devices. And sure enough, we already have a pretty good idea of when the HTC GPE devices are getting Android Lollipop, after the HTC VP of Product Management, Mo Versi, pretty explicitly confirmed in a series of tweets that HTC is aiming to update its two GPE, the HTC One M8 and M7, by next week.
@funky_1975 Hi, early next week. Thanks.
— Mo (@moversi) November 14, 2014
@amir_thedude Target is early next week. Thanks.
— Mo (@moversi) November 14, 2014
That’s a pretty quick turnaround for HTC, who is no doubt also rushing to get Android Lollipop onto the One M8 running Sense 6.0. And despite the fact we haven’t heard word about the other GPE devices, we think it’s a pretty safe bet to expect the other devices to update in about the same timeframe. All the same, we’ll just have to see what happens next week, though we have a feeling some HTC GPE device owners will be pretty happy by the end of it.
What do you think about the HTC Google Play Edition phones getting Android Lollipop? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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Google has announced a slew of new apps and games that officially support the Google Chromecast Dongle. Among the new additions you can now cast movies and shows from Starz Play and Showtime Anytime. Neither of which will do you much good if you don’t have either of the premium channels added to your currently supported cable or satellite provider. However, it is good to see them jumping on the bandwagon like HBO Go did many moons ago. Now to just wait for individual streaming only packages, which are slated for some time next year.
UFC.TV also was added to the mix for those of you who are cage fighting die hard’s out there. Near as I can tell you can actually pull up Pay-Per-View content or subscribe to UFC FIGHT PASS for access through the app for everything. There are some blackout and contrary restrictions though, so be sure to check into it before you start looking to spend money.
For us cord cutters that no longer have cable or satellite, the above news does little for us. There is more news though that might interest you a little bit more. A set of family-friendly games have all gained support for the Chromecast that will bring a little more family entertainment to the living room on the big screen. Wheel of Fortune, Monopoly Dash, Scrabble Blitz and Connect 4 Quads. I didn’t find SIMON Swipe listed in the Play Store though, could just be a posting delay though as the others are all new additions today. Even the chromecast.com/apps page only gives links to iOS versions of the titles. Those aren’t the only new additions though. Just Dance Now will get you busting a rug on Pizza night. If you want to flex your brain rather than your muscles Big Web Quiz and Emoji Party now bring trivia to your TV.
To make finding these apps, and many others that are officially Chromecast supported and endorsed by Google, the company reconfigured the chromecast.com/apps page with categories. Now you can browse by TV & Movies, Music & Audio, Games, Sports, Photo & Video, New and a few others. Makes finding something useful to your life a little easier. Looks like the holidays could be pretty entertaining, don’t forget the eggnog though.
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Of course Motorola is actually the first to update its devices. After LG surprised us by saying that it would update its LG G3 starting this week, we almost thought there might be a new sheriff in town. However, if what Ars Technica is telling us is true, then Motorola has stolen the crown once again after it was reported the international unlocked 2014 Moto G is the first smartphone to get Android Lollipop. This comes just days after its bigger brother, the Moto X, was spotted running a soak test build in anticipation of the Android Lollipop roll-out, but it appears the Moto G has curried favour this time around.
Assuming unlocked devices are starting to be updated as we speak, Moto G devices locked to carriers will hopefully see the update in the very near future. Likewise, the Moto G’s 2013 version should also see the update soon seeing as the major difference between this year’s version and last year’s version is this year’s version has a bigger screen (and unfortunately worse battery life). We’d expect the Moto X’s update to start rolling out soon too, but we’ll call that one when we see it.
What do you think about the fact the 2014 Moto G is the first smartphone to get Android Lollipop? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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It is Wednesday and that usually means there will be some updates to our Google apps that we all know and love. While Google has been pushing many updates out more sporadically, today still has brought one to the Play Store that plenty will be happy to finally have. Today Google is updating the Google Keyboard and bringing with it the material design themes, in both a dark and light color option.
Google also added in the ability to configure the long-press duration in the settings menu as well. As always, the update is rolling out today in waves. You might already have it. If you don’t you can always pop over to Gappsearly and grab the APK at your leisure.
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