Archive for April, 2012

Convergence Review

Monday, April 30th, 2012

The Commonwealth Government has released the Final Report of the Convergence Review (pdf).

While initially there were some indications that this review might relate to intellectual property issues, especially copyright, the Final Report focuses on the areas of regulation traditionally covered by labels like “broadcasting”, telecommunications, “spectrum allocation”, “media ownership” and “local content” requirements.

The Minister’s Press Release notes that:

The release of the report provides an opportunity for stakeholders to engage with the Committee’s recommendations. I expect the recommendations will generate robust public debate

and indicates the Government will respond in due course

Links to various preliminary documents and Word version of Final Report.

Lid dip: Copyright Council

Optus TV Now (no more)

Friday, April 27th, 2012

The Full Court (Finn, Emmett and Bennett JJ) has unanimously allowed the appeal from Rares J’s finding that Optus TV Now did not infringe the copyright held by the AFL, the NRL and Telstra in broadcasts (or films) of the footy.

Based on the summary, the Full Court has found that Optus either made the copies of the broadcast and films or Optus and the subscriber did so jointly.

As Optus was the (or a) maker, it could not rely on the “home taping” defence provided s 111 as the copy was hardly for “private and domestic use”.

This is, of course, the opposite result to that reached by the Second Circuit in the US in the Cartoon Network case in different legislative setting.

The second point would seem to follow necessarily from the first, but the first could render the protection of s 22(6) largely nugatory to those who carry transmissions of infringing material across their networks. The reasoning on this point will need closer consideration. Of course, Optus was storing the copy longer than may be the case of an ISP whose network is used to download some infringing material. Wonder what this provision means?

National Rugby League Investments Pty Limited v Singtel Optus Pty Ltd [2012] FCAFC 59

Lid dip Australian Copyright Council

Roadshow v iiNet

Friday, April 20th, 2012

The High Court has unanimously dismissed Roadshow’s appeal in the case against iiNet.

On a first look, there are some references suggesting that our law is being brought back in line with the UK (CBS v Amstrad) and Canada (CCH Canada v Law Society of Upper Canada). Consideration will have to await further review.

Although unanimous, there are 2 judgments: as in iceTV, French CJ, Crennan and Kiefel JJ in one and Gummow and Hayne JJ in the second.

Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Ltd [2012] HCA 16

Raising the Bar Act

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Apparently, the Governor-General signed the Royal Assent to the Intellectual Property Laws Amendment (Raising the Bar) Act 2012 on 15 April 2012.

According to IP Australia, most of the amendments will not come into force until 15 April 2013, but the exceptions to patent infringement for (1) regulatory use or (2) experimental use are now in force.

Many of the changes yet to come into force do relate to patents. There are, however, important changes to trade mark registrability (amongst other things) and conferral of original jurisdiction (from 15 April 2013) on the Federal Magistrates Court in matters concerning registered designs, trade marks or PBR , including appeals from the Registrar, infringement and revocation proceedings.

The Act (AUSTLII doesn’t have a link at the time or writing).

IP Australia’s announcement. Links to some previous commentary here.

Does anyone think Google is advertising the sponsored links?

Monday, April 16th, 2012

The Full Federal Court in Australia does.

The ACCC has successfully appealed the Google Adwords case for misleading and deceptive conduct.

So, for example, Alpha Dog Trainging has been operating a dogtraining business for 12 years. Dog Training Australia (Ausdog) bought ads on the keywords Alpha Dog Training through Google’s Adwords program. One ad generated was:

Alpha Dog Training 
DogTrainingAustralia.com.au All Breeds. We come to you. No dog that can’t be trained. 

Instead of being taken through through to Alpha Dog Training’s website, however, a user who clicked on the ad was taken through to Ausdog’s website.

A clear case of misleading or deceptive conduct by Ausdog.

Because of its role in “selecting” which ads got placed in what order, Google has also been found liable.

Prof. King, formerly an ACCC commissioner, highlights why and thinks the Court got it seriously wrong.

Did we just kill the Internet in Australia?

ACCC v Google Inc. [2012] FCAFC 49 (Keane CJ, Jacobson and Lander JJ)

Acohs v Ucorp or the limits of implied licences

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

The Full Federal Court (Jacobson, Nicholas and Yates JJ) has largely upheld Jessup J’s ruling, but with a noteworthy limitation on the scope of implied licences.

Acohs and Ucorp both provide in competition with each other Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) which are required by law to identify the properties, uses and hazards of dangerous chemicals.

At first instance, Jessup J found Acohs owned copyright in the MSDSs which had been written by its employees, but not by employees of third parties. His Honour also held that copyright did not subsist in the HTML source code of the MSDSs in its collection: the employees who prepared the software to generate the source code were not collaborating with those who subsequently entered the data in the sense necessary to constitute a work of joint authorship.

The Full Court has upheld these conclusions.

Jessup J also held that Ucorp could claim the benefit of an implied licence which permitted it to reproduce the MSDSs in which Acohs held copyright.

Acohs did not challenge the existence of an implied licence on appeal (after all, it has the benefit of a similar implied licence arising from the earlier litigation against Bashford). There was, however, an important difference in this case.

Ucorp copied several thousand MSDSs each week. At least some of these were made in response to requests from customers who had the benefit of an implied licence from Acohs. The copies made by Ucorp in response to such requests were protected by the implied licence.

However, Ucorp also “trawled” the internet looking for any other MSDSs and, when it found ones it did not already have stored, it downloaded them so as to have them available if a customer came along with a request for one. As these were not made in response to a request, but rather in anticipation of a request (which might never be made), they fell outside the scope of the implied licence. The Full Court reasoned that the licence that would be implied could be the bare minimum necessary and it was only necessary that a licence be implied in favour of customers who placed a request with Ucorp for a copy. The “trawling” could not be sanctioned.

Thus, Ucorp will be found liable for infringing the copyright in all those MSDSs which it reproduced without a specific request from a customer before the copy was made.

Two additional points:

First, Bennett J has adopted a similarly strict approach to the scope of the “interoperability” defence for infringement of copyright in computer programs. ISI made software that enabled users of CA’s Datacom database system to convert to IBM’s DB2 system. Section 47D protects reproductions made (for the relevant interoperability purpose) by the owner or licensee of copyright in a computer program or someone acting on their behalf. Bennett J found that ISI was not acting “on behalf” of such licensees when it made reproductions of “macros” used in the Datacom system for its commercial 2BDDB2 program as they were not made in response to specific requests from customers before the reproduction was made: CA Inc v ISI (starts around [334]).

Secondly, the Full Court does not appear to have been too happy with the licence Merkel J implied in the original Acohs v RA Bashford litigation at [108]:

The apparent acceptance by the parties of the correctness of Bashford has important ramifications for this appeal. As the parties conducted both the trial before the primary judge and the present appeal on that basis, the occasion does not arise for us to proceed otherwise than in accordance with, and to the extent of, that acceptance. In so proceeding, we do not wish to be taken as endorsing the correctness of all aspects of that decision.

Perhaps, the new reference to the ALRC cannot come soon enough.

Acohs Pty Ltd v Ucorp Pty Ltd [2012] FCAFC 16