Friday, April 27, 2012

Copyright Loss For Optus TV


National Rugby League Investments Pty Limited v Singtel Optus Pty Ltd [2012] FCAFC 59 (27 April 2012)

"The two primary issues raised in the appeals can be stated shortly. The first is: When a cinematograph film (or copy) and a sound recording (or copy) were made when a television broadcast of one of the AFL or NRL matches was recorded for a subscriber, who, for the purposes of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) was the maker of that film, sound recording or copy? Was it Optus or the subscriber (or both of them jointly)? The primary judge’s answer to this was that the maker was the subscriber.

Ours is a different conclusion. The maker was Optus or, in the alternative, it was Optus and the subscriber. It is unnecessary for present purposes to express a definitive view as between the two. Optus could be said to be the maker in that the service it offered to, and did, supply a subscriber was to make and to make available to that person a recording of the football match he or she selected. Alternatively Optus and the subscriber could be said to be the maker for Copyright Act purposes as they acted in concert for the purpose of making a recording of the particular broadcast which the subscriber required to be made and of which he or she initiated the automated process by which copies were produced. In other words, they were jointly and severally responsible for the act of copying. That is our preferred view.

The second question is: If Optus’ act in making such a film would otherwise constitute an infringement of the copyright of AFL, NRL or Telstra, can Optus invoke what we would inaccurately, but conveniently, call the “private and domestic use” defence of s 111 of the Act? The primary judge did not have to consider this, given his answer to the first question.

Our answer is that Optus cannot either as maker alone or as a maker with a subscriber bring itself within the scope of the s 111 exception on its proper construction."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Domain names

Discussion for this week's lecture will include:
  • what is a domain name? 
  • who ultimately controls domain names - what roles do ICANN, auDA play? 
  • what legal rights do you have in a domain name?
  • how much are domain names worth?
  • what is cybersquatting?
  • how can you resolve domain name disputes?  Please be familiar with the elements of the UDRP and the auDRP.  Are these processes preferable to court?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option?
  • how would you go about judging a domain name dispute under the UDRP?  Are the decisions consistent?
  • what other policies and legal issues impact on an entitlement to domain names?
  • new GTLDs

Monday, April 23, 2012

German Court case fails to settle YouTube copyright controversy

A German court has ruled that YouTube must erase seven contested videos over copyright issues. However, the decision has failed to settle the protracted copyright row raging on the Internet. Hamburg's State Court ruled on Friday that YouTube will have to take seven videos offline, including "Rivers of Babylon" by Boney M.

The verdict strengthens the position of Germany's royalty collections body GEMA which has been battling Google-owned YouTube over copyright issues for years.

The last agreement expired in 2009 and the conflicting parties have since been at loggerheads over the proper method to collect copyright fees.  However, Friday's verdict is not the landmark ruling which some had hoped would once and for all settle the contentious issue of copyright protection in the Internet.

Limited culpability
The Hamburg court decided that Internet platforms like YouTube are not directly liable for the breach of copyrights committed by users uploading protected material. However, the platform is now obliged to "deactivate immediately any illegal videos" once alerted by those holding the copyright.

Notably, the ruling does not oblige YouTube to check all content that has already been uploaded to its site – a key GEMA demand.

The judges said YouTube was not the main culprit because it does not upload or steal any content. Rather it facilitated the copyright breaches by offering and operating the online platform.

In order to prevent further copyright breaches, the judges called on YouTube to employ specific software capable of detecting songs in videos.

Business Method Patents

For tonights class, in addition to the reading listed below, the following recent Australian Patent Office decisions are relevant:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Jail time for Facebook Photos


A New South Wales man has been jailed for six months for posting nude pictures of his former lover on Facebook, Fairfax media has reported.
In the first social networking-related conviction in Australian history, Ravshan ”Ronnie” Usmanov posted six nude photos of his ex-girlfriend on Facebook shortly after they broke up.
The photos showed his ex-girlfriend "nude in certain positions and clearly showing her breasts and genitalia."
"I put the photos up because she hurt me and it was the only thing (I had) to hurt her," Usmanov, 20, was quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald as telling the police.
According to the report, Usmanov also emailed his girlfriend after posting the pictures, saying, “Some of your photos are now on Facebook."
The woman, who cannot be identified, requested Usmanov to take the pictures down but called the police when he refused.
In 2010, a New Zealand man was sentenced to four months in jail for posting a naked photo of his ex-girlfriend on Facebook.
His act was described as one of "irresponsible drunken rage" by presiding judge, who also said, "Technology can't be used in this way. You would do incalculable damage to someone's reputation."


Source:  Yahoo website

Friday, April 20, 2012

iiNet High Court of Australia Decison - iiNet Wins

The High Court of Australia today handed down judgment in favour of iiNet in the copyright appeal, dealing with whether an ISP should be liable for copyright infringements of the ISP's customers.  Unanimous dismissal. French, Crennan and Kiefel in one judgment and separate judgment of Gummow and Hayne also dismissing appeal.

"Today the High Court dismissed an appeal by a number of film and television companies from a decision of the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia. The High Court held that the respondent, an internet service provider, had not authorised the infringement by its customers of the appellants' copyright in commercially released films and television programs."

Summary:
http://www.hcourt.gov.au/assets/publications/judgment-summaries/2012/hcasum16_2012_04_20_iiNet.pdf

Judgment:
http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/HCA/2012/16.html

My commentary in The Age

Monday, April 16, 2012

e-book Price Fixing?


Last week, the United States Department of Justice and 16 U.S. States sued Apple and several publishers alleging a conspiracy to raise retail prices for e-books. 

In the Southern District of New York, the Department sued Apple, Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin, reaching a settlement with Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster.  The Department’s complaint and proposed final judgment can be found here: http://www.justice.gov/atr/cases/applebooks.html
The Department’s press release and statements by Attorney General Holder and Acting Assistant Attorney General Pozen can be found here:

In the Western District of Texas, the a number of States sued Apple, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, and Penguin. The States'  redacted complaint can be found here: https://www.oag.state.tx.us/newspubs/releases/2012/041112ebooks_complaint.pdf 

The States were led by the Texas AG and the Connecticut AG. The States did not sue HarperCollins or Hachette, but stated they had reached agreement with the two publishers on restitution and injunctive releif.  Here is the Texas AG’s press release: https://www.oag.state.tx.us/oagnews/release.php?id=4026

Monday, April 09, 2012

Class 7: Liability of intermediatories and ISPs

This class deals with liability of intermediaries. For example, is an ISP liable for the conduct of its users? Is a web hosting company liable for the content of others that it hosts? Is TripAdvisor liable for reviews of hotels posted by users? Is Google liable for the content that appears on this blog?

Should such intermediaries be liable for the actions of others?

This is a very topical class, with a number of relevant decisions from the past two weeks.  Thus, there is a lot of reading for this class.

The main reading for the class is the iiNet case:
The iiNet case is currently on appeal to the High Court of Australia.  Oral argument has been heard, and we are waiting for judgment.  It is reported that judgment will be handed down on Friday, 20 April.  Transcripts and written submissions can be found on the High Court website.

Please also read the very recent case: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v. Google Inc. [2012] FCAFC 49 decided last week; and compare UK position summarised here.

Also, read the following:

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Google Liable for Misleading Advertisements

The Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia today decided that Google was liable for misleading advertisements placed by advertisers.  See Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v. Google Inc. [2012] FCAFC 49.

The 3-0 judgment against Google included the following text:

"An ordinary and reasonable user would conclude from these circumstances that it was Google who was displaying the sponsored link in collocation with the sponsor's URL in response to the user's search.  Even if all these circumstances would not be apparent to ordinary and reasonable users, so that Google could not be "seen" by them to be more than a mere conduit, these circumstances show that Google is, in fact, much more than a mere conduit.  ...  Critical to this conclusion is the fact that the sponsored link is displayed on the screen in response to a user's query which is made by the entry of selected key words.  Thus, the user asks a question of Google and obtains Google's response.  Several features of the overall process indicate that Google engages in misleading conduct. ...

Google supplies its advertising customers with the ability to select keywords which are expected to be used by persons making enquiries through Google's search engine.  The ability of advertisers to select "broad match" keywords enables them to trigger sponsored links through Google's search engine based on known associations which are determined by Google's proprietary algorithm.  Although the keywords are selected by the advertiser, perhaps with input from Google, what is critical to the process is the triggering of the link by Google using its algorithms.  That is a further reason to conclude that it is Google's conduct as a principal, not merely as a conduit, which is involved in each of the four instances that form the subject matter of this appeal."