September 2005

Since online auctioneer eBay agreed to purchase Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) provider Skype Technologies for $2.6 billion in cash plus eBay stock, industry analysts have been wondering why. Skype, which allows Internet users wth broadband connections to talk from computer-to-computer anywhere in the world for free, and from computer-to-phone at a deep discount from any rates offered by traditional telecommunications companies, is an example of how VoIP, also called IP telephony or Internet telephony, is revolutionising the telecommunications industry. The focus in the news has been on why an online auctioneer would want to pay this much for a telephony company. Equally interesting are the questions for regulatory policy. (more…)

Well might they call him ‘uber-copyfighter’. The amazing Michael Geist (and no, I’m not just saying that because I’m currently enjoying his hospitality in Ottawa) has today launched In the Public Interest: The Future of Canadian Copyright Law.


Just found via slashdot an interview with Eric Raymond at on his keynote speech at a conference in Brazil. Raymond is reported to have said: “We don’t need the GPL anymore. It’s based on the belief that open source software is weak and needs to be protected. Open source would be succeeding faster if the GPL didn’t make lots of people nervous about adopting it.”

Interesting, but I can’t agree. (more…) has a story on how Microsoft last year reversed its approach to writing Vista (aka Longhorn), the replacement for Win XP, and adopted a much more modular approach in the code. I’m rather surprised that they weren’t doing this already. It isn’t a good feeling to think that XP tends towards spaghetti code.

In December 2004, Google announced its Library Project — an initiative to index the book collections of Harvard, the University of Michigan, Stanford, Oxford, and the New York Public Library, and make their content searchable online. As with all things interesting to do with the Net and intellectual property, this project has not been uncontroversial. (more…)

Hmm, Google has just launched the Google Blog Search. Looks very interesting, and rather fast too…

No, I’m not learning Finnish. That is the first line of this highly recommended article on – Therese Catanzariti, Australian expat in Finland, on Finnish music with a rather nice segue into Kazaa and private copying issues.

In other IP news and reading this morning:

What else am I reading? (more…)

It is encouraging to hear that the education of students affected by Hurricane Katrina will not go neglected.

Several school districts throughout the country are taking on elementary and secondary school children, whose numbers are thought to exceed 200,000.

In addition, a number of universities (including law schools), both public and private, have offered places to college and graduate school students displaced by Hurricane Katrina. (more…)

I hadn’t mentioned this, because it seemed to me so much less important than other current government reviews (on TPMs and copyright exceptions), but Attorney-General’s are running yet another simultaneous review: this one of the appropriate scope of the ISP safe harbour provisions brought in with the FTA Amendments last year. I wasn’t going to blog about this, because it’s pretty clear that AGs do not think it requries wide comment. But now Warwick Rothnie has commentary here, I’ll just note it in passing. (more…)

Some more links to peoples’ comments on Kazaa:

  1. a couple of articles are available on Online Opinion: including this piece by Stephen Peach (ARIA), and this piece by Stephen Abood.
  2. Michael Madison’s views (University of Pittsburgh) – interesting comments comparing US and Australian approaches to legal development.
  3. Phil Tripp’s views are here (Tripp is a music business type person, and runs the website, a news/commentary portal for music biz)
  4. Brendan Scott’s views here (pdf)
  5. Ed Felten’s comments on Kazaa are here.
  6. Kathy Bowrey’s Comments (and comments on many other digital copyright and ‘piracy’ issues) here.
  7. David Starkoff (recommended – don’t agree with him on everything but it’s an interesting view);
  8. IPKat (just saying it seems a sensible result. Of course, that’s not the issue – the issue is the reasoning, which is problematic for reasons I’ve outlined and Matt Rimmer has also underlined in his comment on this and Geists’ blog, quoted in Starkoff).


The decision in the Australian KaZaA case (Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd v Sharman License Holdings Ltd [2005] FCA 1242) has been published.

The New York Times has also published an article on the decision, and gives a useful history of KaZaA since its launch in 2001.

It is clear that this decision will have implications beyond Australia’s shores. For some detailed comments on the decision, see Kim’s post.

I’ve already put up fairly extensive (albeit initial) comments on Kazaa below. I’m not, of course, the only one to comment on the case: here are some more links:

It’s not much – but I’ve not yet found all that much apart from news stories.

Let me know if you find more commentary that I should link to here. Also, if there is anyone out there with some comments they want to post, feel free to put them in the comments box or, if that’s just too annoying, email them to me so I can post them direct to the blog.

The Federal Court of Australia has ruled that the developers of peer-to-peer file sharing software infringes copyright in music recordings. Although the decision has not been posted yet, it has been reported on in the Australian press.

Interesting, Justice Wilcox has not ordered for the KaZaA system to be shut down, but for the technology to be modified so that instances of copyright infringement are reduced.

So today, senior Australian Federal Court judge Justice Wilcox handed down his decision in the trial of the Kazaa case. In this case, over 30 applicants – in essence, copyright owners – sued the companies and individuals involved in providing Kazaa software. They alleged all kinds of things, but the essence of the case is this question:

By providing P2P file-sharing software (and through all their other activities), did the respondents (Sharman companies, Altnet companies, and assorted individual directors) authorise the undoubted copyright infringement done by the users of the software?

The result?

  • The Sharman companies did authorise infringement. They did not engage in other forms of infringement/illegality alleged by the copyright owners (including direct infringement, conspiracy, misleading conduct under the TPA or unconscionable conduct);
  • The directors/head honchos in Sharman are liable for authorising infringement too;
  • Some of the other parties avoided liability.

The Australian are calling it ‘The Day the Music Died’ (a bit odd, given that the market has, of course, moved on from the Kazaa system). Below are some initial thoughts.


An article published in The Wall Street Journal Online (posted 31 August 2005) reports that a company has sued the owner of a blog for comments posted on his site by readers about the company. This case, should it proceed to trial, will raise very interesting issues that are similar to those recently raised in Australia in Universal Music v Cooper , which considered the liability of a website operator for links to infringing mp3s installed on his website by third parties. Although this case does not concern copyright law, but instead defamation and the misappropriation of trade sercrets, it considers the liability of a website operator for the actions of third parties. (more…)

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