Emory Law Journal

Volume 69Issue 4

Can Copyright Law Protect People from Sexual Harassment?

Edward Lee | 69 Emory L.J. 607 (2020)

The scandals stemming from the sexual harassment allegedly committed by Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes, Les Moonves, Matt Lauer, Bill O’Reilly, Charlie Rose, Bryan Singer, Kevin Spacey, and many other prominent figures in the creative industries show the ineffectiveness of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace, in protecting artists and others in the creative industries. Among other deficiencies, Title VII does not protect independent contractors and limits recovery to, at most, $300,000 in compensatory and punitive damages. Since many people who work in the creative industries, including the top actors, do so as independent contractors, Title VII offers them no protection at all. Even for employees, Title VII’s cap on damages diminishes, to a virtual null, the law’s deterrence of powerful figures in the creative industries—some of whom earned $300,000 in less than a week. Not surprisingly, many of the accused harassers in Hollywood had no shortage of funds to pay “hush money” to their accusers, yet allegedly continued to sexually harass people for years. In an original survey of over 670 alleged incidents of sexual harassment, this Article analyzes the problem of sexual harassment in the creative industries—and the insidious role copyrighted works often played in facilitating a harasser’s ability to carry out and continue the harassment or retaliation.

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Defending Data: Toward Ethical Protections and Comprehensive Data Governance

Elizabeth R. Pike | 69 Emory L.J. 687 (2020)

The click of a mouse. The tap of a phone screen. Credit card purchases. Walking through an airport. Driving across a bridge. Our activities, both online and offline, are increasingly monitored, converted into data, and tracked. These troves of data[emdahs]collected by entities invisible to us, stored in disparate databases—are then aggregated, disseminated, and analyzed. Data analytics—algorithms, machine learning, artificial intelligence—reveal “truths” about us; weaponize our data to influence what we buy or how we vote; and make decisions about everything from the mundane—which restaurant a search engine should recommend—to the significant—who should be hired, offered credit, granted parole. This Article is the first to chart the terrain of this novel, networked data landscape and articulate the ways that existing laws and ethical frameworks are insufficient to constrain unethical data practices or grant individuals meaningful protections in their data. Accordingly, this Article proposes an ethical framework capable of maintaining the public’s full faith and confidence in an industry thus far governed by an ethos of “move fast and break things.”

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