Gosh, too much IP/Tech news is just never enough, right? There’s heaps going on right now. I’ve commented on the whole patent injunction issue (Blackberry, and eBay v MercExchange) below. But there’s so much more going on, I’ll just post a couple of pointers to more info. Over the fold, more on the many Google stories hitting the news, as well as Ed Felten on DRM. In addition, I note that the Kazaa contempt case (over Kazaa’s decision to block Australian access, rather than alter its software) was listed, as I understood, for hearing in Sydney yesterday. Does anyone know what happened?

I think this last week or two has been Google week in terms of legal stories:

  • Google has made the decision to go into China, despite having to comply with China’s censorship policies. Controversial and difficult, and I’m not really sure where I stand on this one. But if you want to follow up the issue, I suggest you go to John Battelle’s Searchblog (apropos of that, by the way, I read his book The Search recently, and can recommend it as an eminently readable and interesting discussion both of Google generally, but also on the concept and importance of ‘search’. If you’re interested in Google not so much for the ‘business’ story but for the broader ‘networked society’ implications, I would recommend this book over other ‘google biographies’.). Other sources on the Google-China story include SearchEngineWatch blog, and Rebecca McKinnon has an excellent collection of links from the mainstream media.
  • Google is in a fight with the DOJ about releasing data. Yahoo! and AOL reckon they complied but didn’t release anything personally identifying. Again, John Battelle is a source – there’s a lot of debate about (a) how much this implicates privacy and (b) whether the whole thing is far less ‘sexy’ than it seems – it’s a trade secret, rather than a privacy of users thing for Google, is the argument of some. I’m more interested, actually, in Geist’s perspective: I think he’s right then he says that:

‘While much of the focus has been on the privacy implications of the USDOJ request, the story highlights a much bigger issue – the significant risks and rewards that arise from retaining enormous amounts of data.’

As he points out, the dispute does indicate is that (a) a helluva lot of data is collected, and (b) things could go further, and finally (c) this raises real issues about the ethics of data retention. This has been an interesting area of the law. Governments over the last few years have been making arguments for, and imposing requirements of minimum periods of data retention by people like ISPs. One of my students last year, Alex Lew, wrote a good paper on online data retention, arguing in favour of maximum period of retention too. We’ll need some more debate here: as Geist points out, ‘Policy makers worldwide have scarcely begun to reconcile the risks and rewards of data retention’.

  • Google’s cache has been held to be fair use – Sarah has some comments at LawFont on the case and its more general implications.

Finally, for those interested in DRM, and that Sony Debacle, Ed Felten has been posting parts of a draft paper on lessons to be learned from the incident. WELL worth reading.