The New York Times has prevented access from the UK to an article detailing intelligence on recent terrorism concerns in the UK. The article in question, “Details Emerge in British Terror Case” (published 27 August), contained details that may have run afoul of the requirement under UK law that prohibits the pre-trial publication of “prejudicial information” about defendants. The New York Times used technology designed to deliver targeted advertising to users to prevent anyone using a computer located in the UK from downloading the article. The article quotes Jonathan Zittrain (of the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School and the Oxford Internet Institute) in saying that the paper’s action is consistent with trends on the Internet to restrict information.

It is thought to be the first time that the paper has withheld access to an article to avoid contravening laws in the UK.

The Australian Record Industry Association, 2005

‘On a general note, ARIA considers that any amendment to the reproduction right and its exemptions needs to support new business models and the successful roll out of digital formats and online services. The industry considers that the market requires music products that are tailored to consumer needs and expectations, including home copying. This can and needs to be achieved through product design and technology, not through legislative amendment which distorts the market response to consumer demands.’

And they go on to elaborate:

  1. It is the goal of record companies, both internationally and in Australia, to support the introduction of new options and business models offering different services and options to consumers at different price points.
  2. in the short term, technological developments will enable consumers to make a reasonable number of copies of recordings under licence from the copyright owner;
  3. in the short term, technological developments will provide copyright owners with the means to limit uncontrolled copying of recordings;
  4. in the short term, technological developments will provide to consumers the flexibility that they are seeking whilst ensuring that, at the same time, Australia continues to be able to meet its obligations under various copyright treaties;
  5. an abrogation of the rights of copyright owners and creators cannot be justified on the basis that because technology allows private copying to occur (and has done so for
    some time), such copying has assumed the status of a “right”;
  6. there is no problem, because no one has ever been prosecuted for private copying, and while ‘that does not mean that the copyright owners condone that private copying, it clearly demonstrates that copyright owners have not sought to utilise remedies available to them under the Copyright Act to address the problem.’

Notably, ARIA rejected a private copying levy as an idea.

United Kingdom, BPI, 2006:

‘The British music industry is to recommend to the Government that consumers be allowed to legally copy music without fear of prosecution.

The BPI, the body that represents British record companies, believes copyright on CDs and records should be changed to allow consumers to copy music if it is for personal use. Currently, it is technically illegal for anyone to copy a CD onto their computer for the purposes of downloading music onto their own portable music player.

In its submission to the Gowers Review – the independent review body set up by the Treasury to examine the UK’s intellectual property framework – the BPI has asked for the issue of this area of music copyright to be addressed.

Worth noting that it’s not clear from this story whether BPI are recommending a statutory levy of any kind. But still, it’s a notable contrast.

United States, RIAA, for a very long time:

If you choose to take your own CDs and make copies for yourself on your computer or portable music player, that’s great. It’s your music and we want you to enjoy it at home, at work, in the car and on the jogging trail.

So here’s what I don’t get. Why is the Australian position so very different? Is it because here, unlike, say, Canada, where at least there’s been some action in the music industry recently, particularly in terms of the representativeness of CRIA etc, there is so little outcry against the ridiculous position under Australian law? What do people think about this?

And when I write “Apple”, whom do you think of? The computer maker? Thought so. Today, Mr Justice Mann found for Apple Computer, Inc. in the lawsuit between it and Apple Corps Ltd (the Beatles). My intro is possibly a little misleading, however, as the case was not directly about the classical trade mark concerns of confusion between two particular marks.

Rather, it concerned the interpretation of a settlement agreement between the two parties executed in 1991 in order to avoid some of the sporadic conflicts the two had previously had in exploiting their similar marks. However, notions of applications and use of trade marks do surface in construing just what that agreement meant. (more…)

Yes, all the copyright experts I know were predicting this result: London’s High Court has ruled that Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown did not infringe the copyright of an earlier book, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. The decision seems to affirm a basic fact: copyright does not protect ideas or facts, and an author can draw on ideas, facts, and even fictitious histories in writing new work. A good, if obvious result, it seems to me. And now the pliaintiffs end up with a very nasty costs bill: 85 per cent of Random House’s legal costs, which could top 1 million pounds ($A2.4 million).

The judge clearly did not believe the plaintiffs. According to The Age,

‘[Justice] Smith said it was not for him to decide whether Baigent [one of the plaintiff authors] was “extremely dishonest or a complete fool”, but called him a “thoroughly unreliable witness”.’

In the end,

‘It would be quite wrong if fictional writers were to have their writings pored over in the way DVC (Da Vinci Code) has been pored over in this case by authors of pretend historical books to make an allegation of infringement of copyright’

ZDNet had a recent article about RIM winning a patent case in the UK. The action was unrelated to the NTP/RIM litigation, and appears to have been an action by RIM to have an InPro patent revoked, provoking InPro to countersue for infringement. (more…)

The Canadian Globe and Mail has a story on how a UK court ordered parts of an unauthorised biography of singer Loreena McKennitt to be deleted. (more…)

Various media are reporting how a British teenager escaped conviction after “mailbombing” his former employer. Mailbombing is a form of denial of service attack – in this case, the teen sent 5 million emails, which overwhelmed the target’s mail server. (more…)

RIM ruling risks US Blackberry shutdown; 419 scams; and How ATM fraud nearly brought down British banking – see full post for details (more…)

On 13 July, the Court of Appeal ruled in BHB v William Hill, the long-awaited UK case applying the European database right. The judgment, which is the result of an appeal from Justice Laddie’s decision in the Chancery Division of the High Court, applied the findings of the European Court of Justice regarding the interpretation of the database right. The result was that the BHB database was ruled as not falling within the scope of the law’s protection, as it was not the result of a “substantial investment” in either the obtaining, verification, or presentation of the contents of the database, as required by Article 7(1) of Directive 96/9. (more…)

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