Lawsuits loom for ICO version 1.0, regulatory risks of digital currency, and more in this issue of Digital Media Link

4 min

In connection with the Digital Entertainment World (DEW) expo on February 5-6, 2018, we are pleased to present a new issue of Digital Media Link. In this issue, we explore legal challenges for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. We hope you find these articles informative, and that you continue to "link" up with us in this important area.

virtual currency

A Wave of Lawsuits Looms for ICO Version 1.0 – Are You Prepared?

Initial coin offerings, or ICOs, have become a ubiquitous and much-discussed way for companies in the blockchain and digital currency space to fund themselves. To date, by some estimates, more than $3 billion has been raised in ICOs, outpacing all venture capital raised in the United States in 2017. The technology of the blockchain has the power to transform the business landscape for many industries, and to create vibrant new companies in the manner of the PC and internet revolutions. In this article, we examine the hypothetical case of one fictional entrepreneur who launched an ICO in early 2017 without treating the tokens as a security, and the potential outcomes and concerns she should have taken into account regarding securities, commodities, government enforcement, private litigation, and insurance. We are not attempting to predict the market for bitcoin, Ether, or other digital currencies; rather, we are creating a scenario to illuminate legal issues.

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Bitcoin in hand

Filthy Lucre: Regulatory Risks of Digital Currency, Loot Crates, and Other Video Game Monetization Strategies

Over the past few years, video game developers have been at the forefront of integrating cryptocurrencies and other payment technologies into their games to create realistic, seamless, and interactive worlds. While the gaming industry has moved ahead quickly, federal and state regulators are taking a much closer look at how these technologies fit within existing legal frameworks. For game developers, this trend is creating increased regulatory attention to in-game use of digital currencies, marketplaces, loot crates, and other platform-based monetization mechanics. Developers should review their policies and processes to ensure they are in compliance with applicable regulatory regimes, including anti-money laundering and money transmission, gambling, and escheatment laws.

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Managing Copyrights on a Blockchain: How Close Are We, and What Does It Mean?

By now it is well recognized that blockchain technology or, more broadly, distributed ledger technology has the potential to expand human interaction and revolutionize the way business is conducted across a number of industries. The effects of blockchain are expected to rival the impact of the internet. Just like the internet, blockchain will have a significant impact on how companies manage intellectual property rights. While there are plenty of reasons to be excited about blockchain, companies dealing with intellectual property portfolios should appreciate that blockchain's impact may not provide direct or immediate relief from some of the most significant burdens of rights management.

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Venable was a DEW sponsor for the fifth year in a row, and partners in the firm's digital media practice moderated panel discussions at the conference. Chris O'Brien moderated the panel "Crowdfunding, Token Sales and Smart Contracts: New Tools for DIY Artists." The panel discussed how artists are leveraging technology to find new ways to finance their creative projects.

Po Yi moderated the panel "The Future of AR and AI for Media and Entertainment." The panel of tech-media futurists discussed the future of augmented reality (AR) and voice-activated artificial intelligence (AI) for media and entertainment experiences. What new consumer experiences are possible when media and entertainment companies begin to tap the power of voice-activated devices and augmented reality? How are consumers reacting to the new technologies, including Amazon Echo, Google Home, and voice-based smartphones? What does the future hold for this exciting area of innovation?


Compliance Week quotes Po Yi about due diligence best practices for corporate sponsors

Insurance Journal quotes Chris O'Brien about how insurers can address blockchain and virtual currencies


Copyright and Social Media: #Ad Disclosures, at the 33rd Annual Intellectual Property Law Conference hosted by the American Bar Association

Virtual Reality…I Choose You! Examining Recent Legal Issues in Augmented and Virtual Reality, at the ABA's Forum on the Entertainment & Sports Industries

Emerging Exposures - What Do You Know? at the 2018 PLUS D&O Symposium hosted by the Professional Liability Underwriting Society