IPwars.com

Mainly intellectual property (IP) issues Down Under

Digital Economy – Future Directions consultation

The convolutedly named The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has issued a consultation paper for industry on the Digital Economy Future Directions.

Apparently, the consultation draft arises from workshops held in August and September 2008.

There is considerable useful detail about the state and composition of the digital economy in Australia and questions on a range of important issues are posed.  In connection with the regulatory framework issues, the following questions are raised:

Should the existing copyright safe harbour scheme for carriage service providers be broadened?  

Does Australia’s copyright law unreasonably inhibit the operation of basic and important internet services? If so, what are the nature of such problems and practical consequences?  How should these be overcome? 

Is there non-copyright legislation that is directly relevant to digital economy businesses that create uncertainty or barriers? 

One might have thought, at a minimum, that the scope of the so-called copyright ‘safe harbors’ should be expanded from the indecipherable ‘carriage service providers’ at least to the extent of ‘service providers’ permitted under the Free Trade Agreement (see art. 17.11.29).  One might also speculate that it would be preferable to adopt a global framework for such service provider liability rather than adopting inconsistent and contradictory regimes for different subject matter such as copyright and defamation etc.

The paper specifically excludes from its scope questions about the National Broadband Network.

The consultation paper is available in pdf or Word format via here.

Better hurry, you have until 11 February 2009 to get your pearls in.

YouTube and IP

Indications are that Universal Music is now making “tens of millions of dollars” from the use of its music on YouTube.

Slightly different outcome to the apparently stalled Viacom approach to social networking sites?

Concurrently, there are newspaper reports that the RIAA, famously suing grandparents and 12 years olds, may be changing its litigation strategy.

Howard Knopf worries that this might be because “sweet heart” deals are being reached with ISPs. Anyone want to sue, say, iiNet?

Served by “Facebook”

Courts have apparently been allowing service of court documents by email and in at least one high profile case against a rugby player alleged to be in breach of his club contract by text message.  Now, for those of you looking for reports of the case where the Court allowed service by Facebook, try:

here and here and here and here.

Master Harper’s decision in MKM Capital v Corbo and Poyser doesn’t appear to be online on Austlii yet.

Lid dip: Jane Treleaven

By the way, Jane asks what kind of privacy settings these people were using that their, er, Facepage (?) showed so much personal information?

While teasing out some issues about the Lori Drew prosecution, Eric Goldman also notes there are problems with the reliability of social network sites pages here, here and here (e.g.).

A different Chrome IP issue

For those of you wondering what Google Chrome is all about, David Pogue does an excellent review and Google, of course, has pretty good explanatory materials including a comic.

Something your brand owners may want to start thinking about is the new monoline address/search bar: you type in a word and Chrome starts suggesting a range of alternatives.  See an example and watch the video here.

Nothing to worry about, perhaps, if you type in coke and get taken here but what happens if the top suggestion takes you here (takes forever to load)?

This brings up the trade mark/IP issues Marty Schwimmer spotted emerging in Japan here.

Oh, that other, EULA issue here, there and everywhere else too.

Copyright owners versus ISPs

Reports today that the UK Government has ‘brokered’ a deal between copyright owners and ISPs forcing ISPs to take a more pro-active role in cutting off illegal downloaders …

According to the IPKat things may be a little more complicated: at least one of the ISPs claims all it has agreed to do is write to the downloader and tell them that someone alleges they infringe copyright.

IPKat here.

Kim has links to the UK Government’s announcement here and expands on the details.

All this is directed at downloaders. Here, of course, ISPs (I really mean ‘carriage service provider’, start here), engaging in Category A conduct get some protection; but nonetheless can have court orders inflicted on them to cut off accounts – who is going to bear the legal costs of a successful court action to achieve this? And there is more limited protection for other types of conducrt depending on whether the activity is Category B, Category C or Category D activity – I kid you not!

Of course, if you’re not a ‘carriage service provider’, you should be shaking in your boots; especially once you get a letter from someone claiming to be a copyright owner (or acting for one) see Metro on George and Cooper v Universal, although depending on your degree of involvement you may be able to argue the latter case in particular is a bit unusual.

Even if you are a ‘carriage service provider’, it may well be that you can’t afford to sit back and wait for letters of demand (I mean, notifications) to come in:

first, you may still be liable for infringement if you become aware of infringing material or of facts or circumstances that make it apparent that material is likely to be infringing …;

secondly, Viacom and the English Premier League (no, there is no copyright in a sporting spectacle, but there is in the broadcasts) contend under the US templates of these provisions that Google must be aware because there is too much infringing ‘stuff’ out there ….

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