October 2005

Is ICANN’s control of Internet governance at an end? Representatives from the European Union and other countries are lobbying for this to be true. At the recent World Summit of the Information Society, organised by the United Nations in Geneva, several countries argued that the allocation of domain names and similar tasks be run by an international body, rather than by ICANN in conjuction with the US government. Such a change would be a radical shift from the current policy, and it is not altogether clear which option would have the best results. (more…)

USA Today has reported that a Yahoo-backed alliance plans to provide digitised copyright material online. Yahoo Inc., along with partners including Adobe Systems Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., the Internet Archive, O’Reilly Media Inc., the University of California, and the University of Toronto, plans to do something similar to the Google-backed initiative that I described in an earlier post.

The difference between the projects is significant. Where Google has, controversially, announced that it will provide excerpts of copyrighted works unless the copyright holders “opt out”, the Open Content Alliance is instead pursuing an “opt in” policy: only when the copyright holder explicitly gives permission will a work be made available. The actual difference between the two approaches is not so great, however. (more…)

You can find his comments here, on Weatherall’s Law, and here, on Michael Geist’s blog.

In Stevens v Sony, the Australian High Court today offered its first view on Australia’s current legal equivalent to the US DMCA. The encounter is an interesting one.


The High Court of Australia has delivered its highly-anticipated judgment in Stevens v Kabushiki Kaisha Sony Computer Entertainment.

The case considered recent changes to the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) enacted by the Copyright Amendment (Digital Agenda) Act 2000 (Cth), which adapted existing copyright laws to certain challenges presented by digital technology. The particular issue addressed by the High Court was whether Eddy Stevens, who sold PlayStation game consoles with modified chips that allowed users to play copies of PlayStation game software not authorised for use with consoles purchased in Australia, had circumvented a “technological protection measure” as defined by seetion 10(1) , and prohibited by section 116A of the Copyright Act.

The short answer to all of this is that the High Court ruled that Stevens did not violate the Copyright Act as contended by Sony. See Kim’s post for further details.

Harvey Danger — whom you may remember from “Flagpole Sitta” — has released their new album for free over the web, and also via bittorrent. Their stated reason:

In preparing to self-release our new album, we thought long and hard about how best to use the internet. Given our unusual history, and a long-held sense that the practice now being demonized by the music biz as “illegal” file sharing can be a friend to the independent musician, we have decided to embrace the indisputable fact of music in the 21st century, put our money where our mouth is, and make our record, Little By Little…, available for download via Bittorrent, and at our website. We’re not streaming, or offering 30-second song samples, or annoying you with digital rights management software; we’re putting up the whole record, for free, forever. Full stop. Please help yourself; if you like it, please share with friends.

Good luck to them; I hope it works. If I like it, I’ll buy the album: Harvey Danger – Little by Little

President Bush has reportedly nominated Harriet Miers to fill Justice O’Connor’s seat on the US Supreme Court.

The New York Times is reporting that Australians Win Nobel Prize in Medicine — Barry Marshall and Robin Warren won for their 1982 discovery that helicobacter pylori is the predominant cause of peptic and gastric ulcers. Very neat work that was completely at odds with then-accepted wisdom.

Tim O’Reilly, commentator and head of the excellent O’Reilly technical publishing series, has a fascinating take on the Authors’ Guilde suit against the Google Library Project. See Sarah’s earlier post for additional comment.

Have a look at http://www.google.com/ig — this looks like the first step in allowing you to turn your google search page into a Yahoo-style portal. Currently no ads. Neat.

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