Why Sony is way out on a limb with legal threats against Twitter

Gigaom

The ripple effects of the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack continue to spread, and one of the latest — and also arguably the least plausible — is Sony’s attempt to threaten Twitter with legal action if it doesn’t remove tweets that contain content from the company’s hacked emails. Sony may have hired superstar attorney David Boies, who led the Justice Department’s antitrust case against Microsoft in the 1990s, but the consensus in the legal community is that the company’s blustering is all sound and fury, signifying little.

The full extent of Sony’s claims can be read in the letter that Boies sent the company, but in a nutshell the movie studio is asking Twitter to suspend the account of anyone who posts information from the hacked emails, and it specifically mentions the account @bikinirobotarmy — which belongs to rock singer Val Broeksmit, who has a band of the same name —…

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2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back: The Problematic Protection of Consumers of Digital Content

I was recently lucky enough to be asked to give a short presentation at the 2014 Edinburgh Postgraduate Law Conference, entitled “Innovation in the Law: New Challenges, New Perspectives“. The organising committee, in conjunction with the Edinburgh Law School and the Institute for Academic Development put on a great two-day event, creating a brilliant opportunity for PhD students, early career researchers, established academics and interested parties to swap ideas, talk at length about their personal obsessions, bemoan the constant struggles that are funding, exercising the power to say “no”, and engage in ample usage of the term “interdisciplinary”. I’d like to thank again all involved in the organisation of a thoroughly enjoyable event, and of course the Forschungsstelle für Verbraucherrecht for continuing to finance my wanderings around Europe in the name of digital consumer protection.

The talk I gave in the panel on “Technology and Law: Confronting Uncertainty, Testing Promises“, was entitled “2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back: The Problematic Protection of Consumers of Digital Content“, the article and slideshow for which you can find below. Rather than the traditional (and oft beset by delays) practice of publishing conference proceedings in a printed version, the conference chose the novel approach of asking the speakers to present their ideas in a 1,000-word blog post, which was then made available on the conference website for anyone who wanted to read up on the topics in advance on the talks. I thought this was a particularly useful tool in preparing for the panels I attended. Continue reading 2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back: The Problematic Protection of Consumers of Digital Content

Secondhand ebookstore Tom Kabinet can stay online, Dutch court rules

Gigaom

A Dutch secondhand ebookstore has successfully defended a court case brought about by the country’s publishers’ association, which argues that ebooks cannot be legally resold.

The site, Tom Kabinet, opened shop a few weeks ago, basing its legality on a 2012 ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the case of UsedSoft v Oracle. That case had to do with the resale of licenses for downloadable software, but Tom Kabinet contended that the CJEU’s ruling in favor of resale extends to digital media such as ebooks as well.

The Dutch Publishers Association (NUV) disagreed, pointing to a 2013 ruling by a court in Bielefeld, Germany, which held that the CJEU ruling only applied to software.

On Monday, the Amsterdam district court sided with Tom Kabinet – sort of. The court refused to give the NUV an interim order shutting down the site, saying the implications…

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A More European Approach to Net Neutrality

Exactly one month ago, on the 29th of September 2014, I gave a talk in the LVR-LandesMuseum in Bonn at the International Conference on Consumer Research 2014 – “Challenges for Consumer Research and Consumer Policy in Europe”. This was also the event at which I had the pleasure of hearing Professor Armin Falk’s talk on mice, morals and marketplaces (which I wrote about in “Of Mice and Markets“). I would like to thank Dr. Christian Bala and the Kompetenzzentrum Verbraucherforschung NRW again for the opportunity to talk at this conference, and bore a captive audience with my thoughts on the future of net neutrality policy in Europe. Continue reading A More European Approach to Net Neutrality

Reforms to UK Copyright Exceptions FINALLY Come Into Effect

As some of you might remember, a few months back I wrote about imminent reforms to UK copyright law exceptions, including finally allowing users to create backup copies and ‘personal copies for private use’ of their digital media (such as burning a CD onto your computer, or transferring music to your MP3 player or phone…. yes, up ’til now this wasn’t actually allowed), and all-importantly introducing a parody exception to copyright law in the UK. In March the UK Intellectual property Office (IPO) also issues a guidance paper on copyright exceptions, which can be viewed here. However, these changes were significantly delayed from their original implementation goal of June, as the Parliament continued to debate the exact scope, wording and effects of these changes. Continue reading Reforms to UK Copyright Exceptions FINALLY Come Into Effect

This Hard Drive Will Self-Destruct in 5 Seconds…

For those of you who feel that you simply don’t feel like a secret agent quite enough in your day-to-day life, I stumbled upon an article on Gizmodo on self-destructing SSDs. For those of you who might not know (and yes, some readers might not know; my mother reads this site… from time to time…. OK, when I specifically ask her to), SSD stands for “solid state drive“, and they are, and have been for quite some time, heralded as poised to finally do away with your clunky, overheating mechanical hard drive. This is old news to most, and the benefits of switching to SSDs, especially for gaming, have been discussed at length by others. But now there is one more reason to switch over and make yourself feel that little bit more futuristic and badass. Continue reading This Hard Drive Will Self-Destruct in 5 Seconds…

The Bay Area gets the European internet exchange model Netflix hopes will spread

Gigaom

The Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX) said today that it’s establishing an internet access point in the San Francisco facility of Digital Reality, a collocated data center provider. With the new point of presence (POP), AMS-IX is bringing its European internet exchange model, one that Netflix supports, to the Bay Area.

Last December, [company]Netflix[/company] became the first customer of AMS-IX’s New York facility, which was a big deal because that signaled the rise of the European internet exchange model in the U.S., something Netflix has supported.

In this type of model, the internet exchanges—the places where the networks of ISPs, content providers, telecoms, and others congregate to swap traffic—are owned by all the members that participate; this could possibly account for the reason why European cross-connect prices are way lower than what you see in the U.S. in which data center owners like Equinix or the ISPs can dictate the…

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Digital Panic! No, Facebook is Not Spying on You Through Their Messenger App

UPDATE 05/01/12: For those of you searching for information about the “Copyright Meme” hoax of January 2015, I have written a new post dealing more specifically with that incident, but also drawing heavily from the warnings and advice I give here regarding having a healthy level of skepticism when it comes to Facebook status updates, and how to actually protect your digital self, see “Digital Panic 2.0! Facebook Are Still Not Going To Steal Your Copyright / Identity / Soul!” 

Just because the fourth instance of people reacting to the changes regarding the Facebook app and Facebook messenger app has come to my attention, I think I should make this clear; Articles and posts saying that Facebook can now spy on you and take pictures of you are sensationalist nonsense. There are a lot of people deleting the Facebook messenger app, and exhorting their comrades to do likewise in a fit of data-security-conscious zeal…. Perhaps missplaced zeal though, as to people like me, the “changes” in these app permissions don’t seem all that new or nearly as evil as they have been portrayed. If you already use the normal Facebook app, or even use Facebook at all, the permissions you are giving for the messenger app are really nothing new. If you’re truly worried about data protection and misuse of data, don’t use Facebook. My first piece of advice is that you read the Snopes.com page on this latest situation – “Facebook Messenger“. Indeed, any time you read something online which you think sounds a bit over the top, you should most definitely check Snopes to get a better idea of how well researched these ideas are. Continue reading Digital Panic! No, Facebook is Not Spying on You Through Their Messenger App

Technollama: “Do monkeys dream of electric copyright?”

I just read this very interesting piece by one of my favourite IT Law experts,  Andres Guadamuz, aka “Technollama“,  about the recent confusion regarding copyright for monkey-selfies. Really there are few people as well able to discuss such a ridiculous but technically interesting legal question as Technollama. The piece makes some very interesting analogies between Infopaq and computer-generated work. Well worth your time, especially should you find your photographic equipment commandeered by artistically inclined primates at some point in the near future.

Read it at:

Do Monkeys Dream of Electric Copyright” Technollama

http://www.technollama.co.uk/do-monkeys-dream-of-electric-copyright

Has The Animal-Rights Movement Overlooked Fish?

The Dish

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Biologist Culum Brown suggests so:

Every major commercial agricultural system has some ethical laws, except for fish. Nobody’s ever asked the questions: “What does a fish want? What does a fish need?” Part of the problem comes back to the question of whether fish feel pain. But for the last 30 years, the neurophysiologists have known that they do, and haven’t even argued about it. …

I think, ultimately, the revolution will come. But it’ll be slow, because the implications are huge. For example, I can’t think of a way to possibly catch fish from the open ocean in a massive commercial way to meet demand that would be anyway near our standards for ethics if we think of them like other animals. Currently, you go out, you catch a bunch of fish, you crush most of them to death in a net, you trawl them up from…

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Twitter and Taboos: The Land Where Logic and Objective Discussion Dare Not Tread

I’m sure many of you by now might have heard about the most recent flare-up, a twitter controversy no less, regarding comments made by the ever-controversial Richard Dawkins – comments which, depending on who you ask either a) suggested violent rape or abuse is worse than “milder” versions, or that b) making such an distinction (for example) does not automatically mean that the comment is tacitly endorsing the “less bad” of the two. I’m of the opinion that this was more an example of an unfortunate misunderstanding of the point Dawkins was trying to make rather than him trying to make any particularly controversial statement about either rape or child abuse, but I certainly think that this debate has raised the serious issue of whether certain subjects should be so taboo that they should not be objectively analysed or discussed. Continue reading Twitter and Taboos: The Land Where Logic and Objective Discussion Dare Not Tread

Cloning Blue Crab Blood to Prevent Infections

I recently came across this rather interesting article (ominously titled The Blood Harvest) by Alexis C. Madrigal in The Atlantic from February of this year about horseshoe crabs and the use of their startlingly blue blood for biomedical purposes. While I had read a bit about the horseshoe crab and its particularly interesting evolutionary history before, I had not heard of the rather indispensable  role it plays in modern medicine. Continue reading Cloning Blue Crab Blood to Prevent Infections

An Introduction to Augmented Reality and the Law

This will be another post based on work I did during my time at the University of Edinburgh last year – this time covering the weird and wonderful topic of “augmented reality”. While it may sound like a rather sci-fi idea, augmented reality is posed to become more and more a part of our everyday life, especially in our interactions as consumers. I’d like to thank the excellently titled “Professor of Computational Legal Theory” Professor Burkhard Schafer for his fascinating, and at times bizarre, course on AI, Risk and the Law, in which we discussed sex robots, virtual reality courtrooms, penguins living on landmines and many other “you-had-to-be-there-to-understand-why-it’s-relevant” topics, and for giving me the chance to research this emerging and most likely problematic area of law.
Continue reading An Introduction to Augmented Reality and the Law

Korea Implements Stronger Protection for App Consumers

Korea seems to have taken a rather forward-thinking stand on digital consumer protection, particularly the rights of consumers of directly downloaded digital content such as apps. This is a protection sadly lacking in the recently transposed Consumer Rights Directive in Europe, which goes a short way towards harmonising rules on digital content, and defining what digital content is, but falls short of giving it the protection of “goods” or extending full rights of withdrawal to digital downloads. This Korean move, made by Korea’s competition watchdog the Korea Federal Trade Commission,  forces app-stores to revise their policies, amongst others, on refunds, changes to terms of service, and prohibitions on automatic billing after a free trial period.

See Shin Ji-hye, “Google, Apple ordered to revise unfair App store terms”, (6 July 2014), The Korea Herald, available online at http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20140706000270

~ Shane

Photo Credit: Jason A. Howie via photopin cc

 

SKINHEAD: The Evolution of a Subculture and Society’s View Thereof

Well, June was a quiet month here at The Undisciplined, what with work and me running away from responsibilities for a while to spend some time in Malta. But I’m back now and working on the second installment about Catholicism, Conservatism and Irish Law. Until then, I thought I might fall back to my tactic of posting old essays I wrote from my earlier college days. This one is one of my favourites. The topic of the skinhead subculture and how it can mean very different things to different people was one I found particularly interesting, and thankfully this odd sentiment was shared by my excellent lecturer in Criminology, Ivana Bacik, the Barrister, Senator and Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at Trinity College Dublin. You can follow her and her ceaseless work in areas close to her heart such as human rights, equality and in particular the protection of children at her website www.ivanabacik.com or on Twitter @ivanabacik. Anyway, the following is a somewhat updated version of the original paper I wrote sometime around 2008, and it doesn’t seem to have aged all that badly: Continue reading SKINHEAD: The Evolution of a Subculture and Society’s View Thereof

The invasion of Leinster House (via the male jacks)

Research for an article I’m writing on Catholicism and Irish Law. Equal parts tragic and comic.

Come Here To Me!

The Irish Independent, April 1st 1971.

On March 31st 1971, a small protest by activists from the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement grabbed nationwide media attention. Angered by the decision of the Seanad not to allow a reading for Senator Mary Robinson’s Contraceptive Bill which could have led to the legalisation of contraception, fifteen women who were accompanied by children made their way to the gates of Leinster House, forcing their way into the grounds. Shortly after 3pm, the women made their way through the Merrion Street gates, before a few of them snuck into the building through the open window of the male bathrooms!

Among the women who partook in the protest were the journalist Mary Kenny, Sinn Féin secretary Mairin de Burca and Margaret Gaj. Gaj was a fascinating character, born in Glasgow to Irish parents in the year 1919, she was a veteran of the women’s movement and…

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Google Spain, What It Means and What It Doesn’t.

Fergal Crehan makes some interesting points on the Right to Be Forgotten argument here, including my favourite, – the distinction between the right to Freedom of Expression (which to be fair, isn’t really endangered by this ruling, as the original uploader wasn’t forced to remove the content) and the Right to Freedom of Information. “The idea that we have a right to access to all published information about any other person is a new one.”

Fergal Crehan BL

Yesterday’s decision of the Court of Justice of the EU in C-131/12, Google Spain v. Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, has generated quite a lot of media commentary, some of it, in my opinion, a bit overheated. I thought it was worth doing a quick overview of what the decision does, and more importantly does not say, and to consider the implications for the future of your information privacy.

 What’s It About?

In 1998, a Spanish newspaper, La Vanguardia  published a report of a court-ordered foreclosure auction to pay social security debt. In 2009, having paid off his debt, the debtor, Mr Costeja González, discovered that Googling his name led to a link to the report.

Relying on the Data Protection principles that data should, inter alia, be kept up to date, be relevant and not excessive to the purposes for which they are processed, and be…

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