October 2005

LawGeek has a post about Fox’s Lawyers sending cease & desist letters to shut down a Buffy Fan Musical.

A San Fran non-profit theatre group called CounterPULSE was sponsoring a fan re-enactment of that most excellent Buffy episode, “Once More With Feeling”. (more…)

A little while ago I noted that the University of Chicago Law Faculty had a Faculty Blog. Interesting, I thought.

I think this new Yale Law Journal experiment (also via Jack Balkin) is even more interesting: (more…)

iTunes? In Australia? I just can’t get my hopes up again…I couldn’t stand the disappointment…

The First Amendment Center has a nice analysis piece on international libel laws and publishing on the internet.

There are a couple of quibbles: the piece notes a number of cases brought against US publishers in a number of jurisdictions, including Australia, and says “In all of these cases, the foreign courts ignored the protections of U.S. libel law and instead applied local law to determine the publishers’ liability.” (more…)

I’m probably behind the times on this, but I just found at Groklaw a nice short history of the net, Unix, Linux and all things related — The Daemon, the GNU and the Penguin, by Peter H. Salus. I haven’t had time to read it all yet (and it still appears to be a work in progress), but so far it’s an informative read.

Interested in why/how the High Court refused special leave in The Panel case? Read Starkoff’s post.

UPDATE: Warwick Rothnie has also commented at some length on the issue. (true confessions: not sure I agree with Rothnie’s basic point here, which is that, in the end, substantial part is just a matter of fact/judgment. But while I think our law on ‘substantial part’ is now problematic for Part IV works, that’s not the Full Federal Court’s fault. That’s the High Court’s fault, for saying that ‘quality’ is relevant for Part IV subject matters. How do you judge ‘quality’ of non-original works, if not by the ‘highlights’ method used by the Full Court?).

The Wall Street Journal has a perceptive piece on how ABC affiliates view TV Downloads. It reports that the president of the association representing ABC’s affiliates “expressed misgivings” about Apple having the right to sell episodes of “Lost” to viewers the day after they are broadcast on ABC. (more…)

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, this past year the High Court of Australia has upheld a record number of appeals from the New South Wales Court of Appeals:

Herald research shows that of 52 cases, 40 decisions of lower courts have been reversed – a success rate of almost 80 per cent.

Last year it upheld only 34 of 55, and in 2003 it was 33 of 56. Last year only 12 of 20 appeals against NSW decisions succeeded.

This means, of course, that in many cases the High Court has found that the trial judge decided the case correctly in the first instance — as was the case in Sony v Stephens, where the High Court agreed with Justice Sackville’s original finding that Eddy Stephens was not liable for having circumvented a technological protection measure.

Alan Fels and Fred Brenchley have an opinion piece on anti-circumvention laws, mod chips, the Stevens v Sony case, and the current moves to reform Australian TPM law in the Australian Financial Review today (sorry, subscribers only). A taste: (more…)

At a time when there’s a little flurry about the application for a trade mark for ‘MADE IN AUSTRALIA’, it’s interesting to see this little Parliamentary Library Research Note on the significance of Country of Origin labelling. As you might expect, it shows there is little research, but what there is suggests that country of origin does matter to Australians: (more…)

Submissions are starting to find their way onto the website of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee website. That committee is doing an inquiry into the exceptions that should be provided to the new anti-circumvention laws which must be enacted in Australia as a result of the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement.

In its submission in the fair use/fair dealing inquiry, The Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) found history, harking back to the invention of the wheel, which it appears CAL did not realise was a recent Australian invention, which received an Innovation Patent.

Now it’s serious. CAL have found religion: (more…)

You might recall that on 5 September of this year, Justice Wilcox handed down judgment in Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd v Sharman License Holdings Ltd, colloquially known as the Kazaa case. It’s all about whether Sharman and others authorised infringement of copyright occurring over the Kazaa network. Wilcox J held that they did. I commented on the case at the time.

Were you wondering what had happened in the case? Whether it was on appeal? What was being done about the orders, at the time, requiring Sharman to make adjustments to their technology with a view to reducing the level of infringement occurring via the Kazaa network?

Well, thanks to the wonders of the Federal Court’s eCourt facilities, we can find out. (more…)

So they launch a video iPod. And The Australian headline notes, ‘Nothing on new iPod’. Warwick Rothnie talks about it here.

Rather, the headline should probably be, ‘Nothing new on iPod’. According to news reports, the device will play video you create yourself. So, my guess would be, it plays unprotected formats.

And we all know what happens when a device plays unprotected formats. Like, say, the iPod does with, say, mp3s. Right? Or am I wrong about this? Is there anything on this iPod which will prevent people playing, say, tv episodes downloaded from P2P networks or elsewhere?

When I commented on Stevens v Sony (here, and then here), I focused on the issue of the meaning of the anti-circumvention provisions. As others have pointed out (here, and Warwick Rothnie here), other matters were raised in the case – in particular, the meaning of reproduction in material form, or ‘copy’. William Patry has some interesting views on the issue today.

The New York Times has reported on the rising cost of licensing intellectual property, noting that the asking price for licensing six seconds of a popular telephone ringtone for use in a documentary film was US$10,000 (eventually negotiated down to US$2,500). Overall, the documentary cost approximately US$500,000 to make, of which about US$170,000 were music licensing costs.

I’m all for compensating artists for using their works. But it’s clear that making low-budget films (particularly documentaries) is not necessarily so low-budget after all, particularly if the creators would like to make use, however fleeting, of clips of music, photographs, or other works protected by copyright.

This makes me think, should there be a sliding scale for licensing fees? Perhaps one based on the intended use of the licensed material, or on the profits received? Such a system might not be such a good deal for the rights holder. However, assuming that the high cost of IP has lead to people creating copyright works that infringe other works, it would be interesting to find out if cheaper licensing fees in certain situations might increase compliance with IP laws.

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