Archive for June, 2011

Helping make Prof. Lessig’s case for him

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

So, Steve Jobs introduced iCloud to the world yesterday.

Michael Speck from Music Industry Piracy Investigations (the people who bring down pirates like Kazaa for the record industry) declared:

Apple was “no better than the old p2p pirates”.

Now, at one level, Apple is not doing that much that hasn’t already been done before: Apple own webpage compares its service to those already on offer from Amazon and Google. Here’s another 17 Apps Mr Jobs made redundant.

Presumably, what you “buy” from Apple through the iTunes store is covered by a licence. The thing that Mr Speck is concerned about is the iTunes Match service: if you let Apple scan your hard drive it will store on the iCloud server for you copies of – according to Mr Speck – all the music you have there; you paid music and music you, er, ripped yourself including pirated music files.  Tidbits’ summary of iTunes Match:

iTunes Match — What about the music you purchased elsewhere or ripped from CD yourself? For a $24.99 yearly fee, iTunes Match makes those songs available, too. iTunes uploads a list of songs in your library (much as it does now for the iTunes Genius results) and matches them (probably using music fingerprinting) against Apple’s collection of 18 million tracks. If you choose to download a track to a device where it doesn’t appear, Apple provides a version at iTunes Plus quality (256 Kbps and free of DRM), even if your original copy was ripped at a lower quality.

Hmm, so if an Australian user chooses the music files to be “matched”, that puts Apple in the territory of iiNet (unless of course Apple’s servers are “in” Australia too).

But wait you say, isn’t there a fair dealing defence? See if you can fit what is being proposed into this.

From what some of the other commentators say, however, it looks like Apple may have cut a deal with the record companies so that some percentage of the annual iTunes Match fee goes to the record companies – see the comments of Kim Weatherall and Colin Jacobs here.

If that were part of the deal with the record companies, then problem solved, but Mr Speck’s interpretation is that it just a unilateral position taken by Apple without the consent of the copyright owners.

Then, for those of us in Australia, there is another problem: when it launches, iTunes Match will be available only in the USA. It will become available in other parts of the world only when licences are negotiated with the copyright owners. Wonder how long it will take before (a) Apple gets around to negotiating with copyright owners for Australia and (b) the chances the copyright owners for Australia will agree to any of this? Remember how long it took for any copyright material to show up in the iBookstore?

On the topic of territorial copyright:

When Zengobi announced Curio Core it was priced (to US customers) at US$39.99. It’s currently available in the Apple Australia Mac App store for AU$47.99, even though the Australian $ currently buys (approx) US$1.06 (which translates into just under AU$38. You can have similar fun with lots of other items in the App stores. Choice magazine provides even more egregious examples for a host of brands.

What Prof Lessig’s case is.

Government responses to ACIP enforcement reviews

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

The Government has announced its responses to ACIP’s reviews of:

On a quick skim, the main recommendation to introduce a Patents Tribunal to determine “IP” disputes has been found non-viable due to the limitations on the Commonwealth’s repository of judicial powers. With WIPO’s arbitration and mediation service in mind, however, IP Australia is to work with alternative dispute resolution providers to provide a new ADR resource. In the PBR context, the Government states that it does not consider it appropriate for IP Australia, as a regulatory agency, to provide post-grant mediation services itself.

The review on PBR has received rather mixed results.

The Government has not accepted the proposal to introduce a “purchase” right.

The PBR Act will be amended to clarify that harvested material which can also be used as propagating material qualifies as propagating material for the purposes of the Act’s prohibitions.

The Government accepts that no changes to the operation of ss 14 and 15 are required.

At this stage, the Government considers that the making of “mendacious” declarations of PBR is adequately covered by the prohibitions on misleading or deceptive conduct in trade or commerce.

Lots of recommendations for more education.

No doubt, you will have your own favourite recommendation(s), but (as I am not a Kat, ip or otherwise) that is all there is time for today!

The Minister’s Getting Tougher on Imitators press release.

ACIP’s “patents” review (pdf).

ACIP’s PBR review (pdf).

Lessig at e-G8 or Le civilised Internet vs gales of creative destruction

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

While we’re having our dark mutterings about what might be in a “Convergence Review“, the Leaders of the Free World (or at least the Western Hemisphere) meeting at Deauville have declared:

5. We discussed new issues such as the Internet which are essential to our societies, economies and growth. For citizens, the Internet is a unique information and education tool, and thus helps to promote freedom, democracy and human rights. The Internet facilitates new forms of business and promotes efficiency, competitiveness, and economic growth. Governments, the private sector, users, and other stakeholders all have a role to play in creating an environment in which the Internet can flourish in a balanced manner. In Deauville in 2011, for the first time at Leaders’ level, we agreed, in the presence of some leaders of the Internet economy, on a number of key principles, including freedom, respect for privacy and intellectual property, multi-stakeholder governance, cyber-security, and protection from crime, that underpin a strong and flourishing Internet. The “e-G8″ event held in Paris on 24 and 25 May was a useful contribution to these debates.

[Slight digression: "new" issues? plus ça change?]

The real fun, however, was at the “e-G8″.

President Sarkozy, who was convening the meeting of the Leaders, had brought together all sorts of likely people

[such as Eric Schmidt, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Jarvis and Prof. Lessig]

and issued a clarion call for Le Civilised Internet.

It all started very well with M. le president declaiming:

You have changed the world. For me, you have changed the world, just as Columbus and Galileo did. You have changed the world, just as Newton and Edison did. You have changed the world with the imagination of inventors and the boldness of entrepreneurs.

However:

Also the States we represent need to make it known that the world you represent is not a parallel universe, free of legal and moral rules and more generally all the basis principles that govern society in democratic countries. Now that the Internet is an integral part of most people’s lives, it would be contradictory to exclude governments from this huge forum. Nobody could nor should forget that these governments are the only legitimate representatives of the will of the people in our democracies. To forget this is to run the risk of democratic chaos and hence anarchy. To forget this would be to confuse populism with democracy of opinion. Juxtaposed individual wishes have never constituted the will of the people. A social contract cannot be drawn up by simply lumping together individual aspirations.

and

Do not allow the revolution you began to violate people’s fundamental right to privacy and to be fully autonomous. Complete transparency, which never allows a person to rest, will sooner or later come up against the very principle of individual freedom.

Let us not forget that behind an anonymous Internet user, there is a real citizen who is evolving in a society, a culture and an organized nation to which he belongs and with laws he must abide by.

Do not forget that the sincerity of your promise will be assessed in the commitment of your companies to contribute fairly to national ecosystems.

Do not allow the revolution you began to violate the basic right of children to lives that are protected from the moral turpitude of certain adults.

Do not allow the revolution you began to be a vehicle for maliciousness, unobstructed and unrestricted. Do not allow this revolution become an instrument in the hands of those who wish to jeopardize our security and in doing so, our freedom and our integrity.

You have allowed everyone, with the mere magic of the Web, to access all the cultural treasures of the world in a simple click. It would be something of a paradox if the Web contributed to draining them over time.

The immense cultural wealth that provides our civilizations with such beauty is a product of the creative forces of our artists, authors and thinkers. Basically, it is the product of all those who work on enchanting the world.

Yet these creative forces are fragile because when creative minds are deprived of the fruit of their talents, they are not just ruined, what’s worse, they lose their independence, they will be required to pawn their freedom.

Unfortunately, this didn’t meet with such a good press (at least in those parts of the (western) world that Napoleon didn’t conquer). For some of the adverse press: herehereherehere. Maybe, the President said something more specific in unscripted comments as the press and Prof. Lessig all react to suggestions that the rest of the world should be introducing the 3-strikes regime of the loi hadopi (France and France again and NZ) and, in another reverberation DownUnder, the rights of governments to censor what their citizens read or do on the internet.

Prof. Lessig was willing to concede that (for intellectual property rights) the question is not whether there should be copyright protection – “No-one serious denies this” - the question is how copyright should be protected in the age of the Internet. On this question, he sharply disagreed with M. le president. The President’s solutions were answers provided by incumbents. And such answers, Prof. Lessig says, should be treated with (too put it mildly) skepticism:

From the Hargreaves Report (UK)

Instead, Prof. Lessig pointed out, the future of the Internet is not:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • (he hopes) Rupert Murdoch,

the future of the Internet is not here (yet). We need to be careful lest the rules we put in place today (at the behest of incumbents) foreclose the emergence of new developments or lose sight of reality.

Now, of course, Prof. Lessig is engaging in polemical advocacy (just as Pres. Sarkozy was), but the point he raises is important and it is important that “we” get it right. One must accept that the State can lay down rules for its citizens’ use of the internet, just as it can lay down rules for all other aspects of its citizens’ lives. Apparently, this even applies in the USA, but in the UK may be not or may be. The question is: what rules (if any) should it lay down and whose views should it be listening to?

You can watch Prof. Lessig’s speech (which I recommend you do just long enough to admire the space age Stage that proves we really are living in the future) then switch over to the slideshow for the lesson (do persevere past section 1, the alcoholic(s)).

The link to the official (English translation of) the text of President Sarkozy’s speech.

For Hargreaves and some reaction.

The G8′s 2011 communique.

If you still need more on ‘creative destruction’ after watching Prof. Lessig, start here.

Lid dip: Peter Black at Freedom to Differ.

Inducing patent infringement in the USA

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

The US Supreme Court has ruled that liability for inducing infringement of a patent under US law requires knowledge of the patent or something called ‘wilful blindness’ to the patent’s existence.

Patently-O summarises and includes a link to download Global-Tech Appliances, inc. v. SEB S.A.

Now, I do know that their law is different to our law.

For a start, under our law infringement can lie in ‘authorising’ the infringer, not (just) inducing the infringement or that idea of contributory infringement – the patentee’s exclusive rights under s 13 include the right to authorise someone to exploit the patent as well as to exploit the patent.

In Ramset, the Full Court traced the old case law: you couldn’t be liable for ‘merely facilitating’ someone else to infringe by supplying materials to them, even if you knew they were going to use them to infringe. If your involvement was sufficient to amount to a common design, or procuring their infringement, however, which generally seemed to presuppose some knowledge of the patent – you could be liable.

Ramset itself knew of the patent’s existence in 1987, several years before it issued the brochure with instructions on how to assemble its product and use it in a way that infringed.

But, on general principles, liability for authorisation requires two elements: (1) that someone has done something which infringes the patent (or threatens to do so in a quia timet case) and (2) the alleged authoriser has done something, or may be supplied something, to entice (to use yet another synonym), induce, persuade or encourage the first person to do that infringing conduct.

The first person, the primary infringer, can be liable even if they do not know that there is a patent – they might escape liability for damages or an account in view of their innocence: see s 123. Why shouldn’t that also apply to the alleged authoriser. Indeed, s 123 would seem equally applicable to the alleged authoriser. And that indeed is the position that Bennett J has reached in Inverness Medical Switzerland GmbH v MDS Diagnostics Pty Ltd [2010] FCA 108, for example.

The copyright cases on authorisation go so far as to hold that, at least in some circumstances, a person who stands by with knowledge that infringing conduct is occurring, or may be is likely to occur, will be liable as an authoriser where they have power to do something about it. Perhaps, we’ll get a better understanding of what is the quality of that power to do something if the High Court grants special leave to Roadshow in the iiNet case.