What is…?

I was catching up on some podcasts recently, and happened upon a very interesting one from Boston radio station WBUR’s “Here and Now” on “crowdsourcing“. While the phenomenon itself is not completely new, I found the approach to it intriguing.

This issue of “What is…?” describes crowdsourcing, looks at the origins of the term, and briefly considers some of the pros and cons of the practice. (more…)

This issue of “What is…?” provides a brief look at the emerging technology of datacasting, and considers some of the regulatory and legal issues that are raised by this new form of broadcasting. In Australia the ability to datacast is becoming a hot topic, not least because it is expected to be included in the upcoming media industry reforms. (more…)

This edition of “What is..?” considers VoIP, otherwise known as Internet telephony or IP telephony. VoIP, which stands for “Voice over Internet Protocol”, refers to the transmission of voice telephone calls over the Internet or any other IP-based network. VoIP systems use packet-switched networks to route and transmit voice calls, rather than the circuit-switching systems used by “traditional” voice telecommunications services.

This article provides an introduction to VoIP, including how it differs from traditional telephony services, and considers some of the regulatory issues raised by providing voice telephony over the Internet. While today VoIP might appear to be a niche product, it is in fact threatening to change the structure of the telephony industry, and is evidence of convergence between the Internet and telecommunications. (more…)

Earlier this month I posted Part 1 of “What is region coding?”, which described the technology, commercial rationale, and economic effects of this system. This posting is Part 2, and considers the legal implications of region coding, with a focus on developments in the United States and Australia. (more…)

This edition of “What is…?” describes the regional coding systems used by the entertainment industry, with a particular emphasis on DVDs. This article will explain the technology behind region coding, describe how the system is enforced, and speculate on the commercial reasons for the system. It will then consider the economic effects of region coding and its possible legal implications, including a discussion of recent litigation in which region coding has been at issue.

This posting contains Part 1, which provides an introduction to how region coding works from both technological and legal perspectives, as well as the commercial justifications for region coding and its possible economic effects. Part 2 considers the legal issues raised by region coding, in the context of both competition/antitrust law as well as the anti-circumvention provisions that have been adopted as part of copyright law in both Australia and the United States. (more…)