How to find whom to send DMCA notices to

Plagiarism Today outlines 6 steps to try and identify the person you should be sending “notice and take down” notices under the DMCA to.

Apart from complaints under the DMCA there could be some useful hints (apart from the inquiry to the Copyright Register) under our scheme. Although, of course, under reg. 20C the carriage service provider is supposed to publish those details in a prominent place on their website.

Read the suggestions here.

Google and facilitating or authorising

DesignTechnica operates bulletin boards. The plaintiff alleged that some postings on the bulletin boards defamed it. In addition to suing DesignTechnica, the plaintiff sued Google for libel by reproducing snippets of the (allegedly) defamatory material in search results.

Eady J, sitting in the Queen’s Bench Division,  dismissed the plaintiff’s claims against Google on the grounds that Google did not publish the material.

The case obviously turns on the requirements for an action in defamation. Of potential interest in an intellectual property context, however, is that his Lordship noted that the generation of the snippets was automatic, not volitional. Thus, his Lordship analagised Google’s position to the position of someone who merely ‘facilitated’ infringing intellectual property conduct rather than ‘authorised’ it.

In the course of his judgment, his Lordship explained:

54.  The next question is whether the legal position is, or should be, any different once the Third Defendant has been informed of the defamatory content of a “snippet” thrown up by the search engine. In the circumstances before Morland J, in Godfrey v Demon Internet, the acquisition of knowledge was clearly regarded as critical. That is largely because the law recognises that a person can become liable for the publication of a libel by acquiescence; that is to say, by permitting publication to continue when he or she has the power to prevent it. As I have said, someone hosting a website will generally be able to remove material that is legally objectionable. If this is not done, then there may be liability on the basis of authorisation or acquiescence.

55.  A search engine, however, is a different kind of Internet intermediary. It is not possible to draw a complete analogy with a website host. One cannot merely press a button to ensure that the offending words will never reappear on a Google search snippet: there is no control over the search terms typed in by future users. If the words are thrown up in response to a future search, it would by no means follow that the Third Defendant has authorised or acquiesced in that process.

In addition, Eady J noted that Google had promptly blocked access to specific URLs, but could not reasonably be expected to block all search results which could include the (allegedly) infringing snippets.

Metropolitan International Schools Ltd v DesignTechnica [2009] EWHC 1765 (QB).

Lid dip: Prof Goldman

Google’s trade mark policy

Yesterday (in the USA) Google’s new trade mark policy and complaint procedure came into force.

All the details here.

Australia is still in the regions where both text and keywords are monitored.

Lid dip @TrademarkBlog (aka Marty Schwimmer)

Terms of Service Tracker

The blogosphere ‘lit up’ and Facebookers (?) went on the rampage when it emerged that Facebook was unilaterally changing its terms of use (and not telling anyone) – Facebook: All Your Stuff is Ours, Even if You Quit.

Jonathon Bailey at Plagiarism Today looks at the EFF’s new TOSBack so you can keep up to date with how your service provider is “shifting the goalposts”.

Google, for example, amongst other things insidiously changed “Terms of Service for Blogger.com” to “Blogger Terms of Service”. (Vote of thanks to whichever Supreme Being I’m following today that I don’t use Blogger!)

All joking aside (and remembering the outrage at Facebook – hope Twitter doesn’t own all my tweets?), this could be a very practical tool.

p.s. Facebook did allow its outraged users to set up a community on Facebook to campaign against the change.

“All of a sudden we realized we were in the auction business.”

The Annual Meeting of the American Economics Association tries to work out how Google works or how AdWords changed the world:

here

A tidbit:

During the question-and-answer period, a man wearing a camel-colored corduroy blazer raises his hand. “Let me understand this,” he begins, half skeptical, half unsure. “You say that an auction happens every time a search takes place? That would mean millions of times a day!”

Varian smiles. “Millions,” he says, “is actually quite an understatement.”

Lid dip @joshgans

Did eBay win?

Some headlines are reporting that L’Oreal lost its trade mark infringement action in the UK against eBay. For example: here, here and here.

The basic facts were that L’Oreal was suing eBay for trade mark infringement as a result of hosting auctions in which vendors were alleged to be selling counterfeit L’Oreal products.

It seems that most of the vendors turned out to be selling parallel imports – imported from outside the European Economic Area – and so they were infringing BUT …

the IPKat reports Arnold J didn’t exonerate eBay, rather his Honour has referred some questions to the European Court of Justice. There may well be a lot more to emerge about Arnold J’s ruling itself – as you’ll see from the IPKat’s update, there are at least 482 paragraphs to scramble through (put our Federal Court to shame (thankfully!)).

From [481]:

iii) eBay Europe are not jointly liable for the infringements committed by the Fourth to Tenth Defendants.

iv) Whether eBay Europe have infringed the Link Marks by use in sponsored links and on the Site in relation to infringing goods again depends upon a number of questions of interpretation of the Trade Marks Directive upon which guidance from the ECJ is required (see paragraphs 388-392, 393-398 and 413-418 above).

v) Whether eBay Europe have a defence under Article 14 of the E-Commerce Directive is another matter upon which guidance from the ECJ is needed (see paragraphs 436-443 above).

vi) As a matter of domestic law the court has power to grant an injunction against eBay Europe by virtue of the infringements committed by the Fourth to Tenth Defendants, but the scope of the relief which Article 11 requires national courts to grant in such circumstances is another matter upon which guidance from the ECJ is required (see paragraphs 455-465 above).

L’Oréal v eBay [2009] EWHC 1094 (Ch)

Meanwhile, you’ll recall that Dowsett J held that a market operator is not liable for authorising trade mark infringement when stall holders sell counterfeit products from their stalls.

Louis Vuitton Malletier SA v Toea Pty Ltd [2006] FCA 1443

So far as I am aware, this didn’t go on appeal. Therefore, you  have to bring such allegations within the common law tort of concerted action or ‘procuring or directing’.

Linking to a website can incur $11,000 fine

Nic Suzor discusses the threat of an $11,000 a day fine if the EFA did not remove a link on its website to gruesome pictures of aborted foetuses i.e. R+ rated content and possible freedom of speech issues under the Constitution and the BSA: read here.

Google’s sale of keywords could be trade mark use

Well, strictly speaking, the 2nd Circuit in the USA has held that Google’s sale of keywords may be use in commerce.

Rescuecom had sued Google for trademark infringement by selling advertisements (sponsored links) triggered by Rescuecom’s trademark. The District Court had dismissed the claim on the grounds that Google’s conduct was not use in commerce. So now it goes back to the District Court.

Of course, Google’s conduct, if were done in Australia or transacted with a business located in Australia, would be in trade or commerce for the purposes of the Trade Practices Act. In context, however, the nearest analogue under our law is whether or not the conduct might be “use as a trade mark” (in the sense of using the sign in the course of trade) for the purposes of s 120 of the Trade Marks Act.

Professor Goldman considers the ramifications under US law (and the distinguishing of WhenU) here.

Domain names and regulatory requirements

If the (US) FDA requires you to include information about the risks of using your drug and Google’s AdSense has a 95 character limit, what do you do?

Prof. Manara explores how companies, particularly pharmaceutical companies, are using domain names to ensure that their online presence doesn’t contravene regulatory requirements such as FDA requirements to include information about risks in materials advertising drugs.

Spam Act fine

Optus has been fined AUD$110,000 under the Spam Act 2003 for sending out 20,000 electronic messages without adequate sender identification.

Peter Black carries the report.

On a different note: why doesn’t Australia have laws against junk faxes?