French Supreme Court orders de-indexing of autocomplete search queries

French Supreme Court orders de-indexing of autocomplete search queries: In a claim brought by a French collecting society, the Cour de Cassation has ordered Google to delete the keywords “Torrent”, “Rapidshare” and “Megaupload” from its auto-completion keyword suggestion tool for French users.

The basis for the injunction is that Google is facilitating — providing the ‘means’ — of infringing the claimants’ copyrights.  However, the Court confirmed that Google is not itself legally responsible for any infringements taking place on sites linked to in search results, even where it suggests the query.  Sensibly, this is because subsequent infringements require ‘a voluntary act of the user’.
Nevertheless, the balance of convenience favoured injunctive relief since this would provide an easy way to reduce infringement by making it more difficult for users to locate infringing materials (even though they still remain available).
The Court qualified its order by noting that it is “without … any reason to expect total efficiency”.  In other words, if Google’s automated keyword de-indexing fails to remove all queries related to the infringements, it won’t be in breach of the order.  This makes sense given that suggestions are generated algorithmically and not actively monitored by Google.
The decision isn’t really surprising — Google has already been filtering certain keywords (mostly relating to pornographic, illegal and infringing materials) from autocomplete since mid-2010.  However, it does confirm the Court’s power to grant an injunction under the Enforcement Directive if Google’s voluntary removal doesn’t go far enough.  Read more »

Facebook mistakenly removes report by free speech NGO, irony ensues

Facebook mistakenly removes report by free speech NGO, irony ensues: This week’s ironic example of private censorship:

Callamard said: “The deletion shows the looming threat of private censorship. We commend Facebook for creating tools to report abuse, but if your post was wrongly deleted for any reason, there is no way to appeal. Facebook don’t notify you before deleting a comment and they don’t tell you why after they have. Facebook act like judge, jury and executioner.”
She added: “Facebook is now widely recognised as a quasi-public space and as such has responsibilities when it comes to respecting free speech. They can’t just delete content without some kind of transparent and accountable system. International law says that censorship is only acceptable when it is clearly prescribed, is for a legitimate aim – such as for public health – and is necessary in a democracy.”

The cost of defending patent troll litigation: $29bn annually

The cost of defending patent troll litigation: $29bn annually:

The $29 billion number comes from measuring … legal fees going to lawyers, and the licensing fees paid in tribute to make the trolls go away … The findings come from a relatively small sample of 83 companies, both small and large.
The median amount spent to pay off a troll suit is just $230,000 for large companies and $180,000 for small- and medium-size defendants. The discrepancy means that the great majority of trolls go away after getting relatively small payouts, while a few very strong entities in the patent-trolling business are able to pull off giant multimillion-dollar settlements. …
The second-largest cost is, unsurprisingly, fees paid to defense lawyers. Big companies spend a mean of $1.52 million per litigation, while small- and medium-sized companies spend $420,000. Again, those compare to much lower median figures …, showing that the companies have a large number of cheaply defended cases, while a few heavily litigated cases run up big fees.

Patent cross-citations used to predict new technology clusters

Patent cross-citations used to predict new technology clusters: This sounds a bit like PageRank for patents:

Érdi’s team have written software that not only charts this evolution, but also hits the fast-forward button on the rate and type of citations to help predict whether existing technological fields can combine or diverge to create new areas of innovation.
“Patent citation data seems to be a gold mine of new insights into the development of technologies, since it represents the innovation process,” says Érdi. They tested their algorithm on old data from the US Patent and Trademark Office’s “agriculture, textiles and food” category of inventions and found that it predicted the emergence of a field recently created to cover nonwoven textiles - fabrics whose fibres are squeezed or forced together, often using solvents as bonding agents.

Patent cross-citations used to predict new technology clusters

Patent cross-citations used to predict new technology clusters: This sounds a bit like PageRank for patents:

Érdi’s team have written software that not only charts this evolution, but also hits the fast-forward button on the rate and type of citations to help predict whether existing technological fields can combine or diverge to create new areas of innovation.
“Patent citation data seems to be a gold mine of new insights into the development of technologies, since it represents the innovation process,” says Érdi. They tested their algorithm on old data from the US Patent and Trademark Office’s “agriculture, textiles and food” category of inventions and found that it predicted the emergence of a field recently created to cover nonwoven textiles - fabrics whose fibres are squeezed or forced together, often using solvents as bonding agents.

Patent cross-citations used to predict new technology clusters

Patent cross-citations used to predict new technology clusters: This sounds a bit like PageRank for patents:

Érdi’s team have written software that not only charts this evolution, but also hits the fast-forward button on the rate and type of citations to help predict whether existing technological fields can combine or diverge to create new areas of innovation.
“Patent citation data seems to be a gold mine of new insights into the development of technologies, since it represents the innovation process,” says Érdi. They tested their algorithm on old data from the US Patent and Trademark Office’s “agriculture, textiles and food” category of inventions and found that it predicted the emergence of a field recently created to cover nonwoven textiles - fabrics whose fibres are squeezed or forced together, often using solvents as bonding agents.

Order me a pizza, mate

Daubney J shows considerable fortitude, patience and good humour in dealing with this self-represented criminal accused on the first day of a trial for attempted murder. The transcript contains some very strong language and is not for the faint of heart, but it makes for amusing reading. The best part is probably when the accused sarcastically suggests that the judge order him a pizza. Some choice excerpts follow (see here for the full transcript):

HIS HONOUR: The trial——-

DEFENDANT: Look - now listen here, mate, you don’t know what you’re fucking talking about.

HIS HONOUR: Now you listen to me——-

DEFENDANT: No, no.

HIS HONOUR: No, you listen to——-

DEFENDANT: Don’t come blooming start your shit, right, mate.

HIS HONOUR: You listen here, Mr B——-

DEFENDANT: You don’t there - you weren’t fucking there so don’t start your crap.

HIS HONOUR: Mr B——-

 Read more »

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Citation: R v DAB (Unreported, Supreme Court of Queensland, 4 June 2012)

ICANN releases list of gTLD applications

ICANN releases list of gTLD applications: Personal favourites include:

  • .afl
  • .cancerresearch (umm, okay?)
  • .changiairport (for all your free WiFi needs)
  • .dog
  • .guardianmedia (and .guardian)
  • .hiv (just the association every brand wants)
  • .melbourne (like .sydney, one of few cities to apply)
  • .northwesternmutual (because everyone wants to type that instead of .com)

Looking through this list, it seems that some applicants have rather missed the point of the gTLD process.  Either that, or they’re drastically overestimating the need for defensive registrations.
Unsurprisingly, .cloud, .app, .news, and .movies were all hotly contested.  Enjoy your $185,000 application fee, suckers.

Free choice and compulsion

The Chief Justice starts to speculate about philosophy with characteristic dry wit. Then comes a classic dodge, if ever there was one, from Mr Tehan QC.

GLEESON CJ: What do you mean by “free choice”?

TEHAN QC: What we mean by “free choice”, your Honour, is a choice unconstrained by any pressure, hope of advantage or benefit or force or coercion or compulsion, a true free choice.

GLEESON CJ: You would be surprised to know that there are places I would rather be than here at the moment and the psychiatrists might explain my presence at the moment by reference to a number of influences or pressures that
produce that consequence, but I thought I was here as a result of a free choice. How is that consistent with your
explanation?

HAYNE J: Good luck, Mr Tehan.

TEHAN QC: It is always a matter of degree, your Honour.

KIRBY J: I could not think of a better place to be than here.

GLEESON CJ: I am sure that is probably right.

*
Citation: Tofilau, Marks, Hill & Clarke v The Queen [2007] HCATrans 81

The Lesson

Two High Court justices give a self-represented litigant a lesson in constitutional interpretation.

GAUDRON J: Now, would you like to read section 80 of the Constitution, Mr Wilson?

MR WILSON: Read section 80?

GAUDRON J: Yes, that is what - and see exactly what it relates to.

MR WILSON: I will read section 80 of the Constitution. It says:

The trial on indictment of any offence against any law of the Commonwealth shall be by jury - - -

GAUDRON J: That is right, “against any law of the Commonwealth”. You are charged with contempt of court of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

MR WILSON: Which is part of the Commonwealth.

GAUDRON J: Well, it may be part of the Commonwealth, but it deals with - - -

MR WILSON: You cannot exclude New South Wales from the Commonwealth.

GAUDRON J: - - - it deals with a distinct area of judicial power. It involves a distinct area of judicial power.

CALLINAN J: Mr Wilson, both the Commonwealth - - -

MR WILSON: I am a bit hard of hearing and I ask you to speak louder.

CALLINAN J: Both the Commonwealth and the States in Australia can make laws.

MR WILSON: And any law of a State - - -

CALLINAN J: No, no, you just listen to me for a moment - - -

MR WILSON: - - - which is inconsistent with a law of the Commonwealth is invalid under section 109.

CALLINAN J: No, Mr Wilson, you are not understanding what I am saying. They each can have laws within their own areas of power and the States have power to make laws for the regulation of the State courts, and that is, in effect, what you are charged with, breaking a law made for the regulation of proceedings in the State courts.

*
Citation: Wilson v The Prothonotary (S127/1998) [1999] HCATrans 108 (16 April 1999)