Smartphone design before and after Apple’s iPhone.  Image...



Smartphone design before and after Apple’s iPhone.  Image credit to @digerati.

The trouble with Wikipedia

The trouble with Wikipedia:

Scholarly expert on the Haymarket riots tries to edit the (top-ranked) Wikipedia entry for the same, is violently rebuffed by community editors.  In short, anyone can edit, but you must play by the rules:

So I waited two years, until my book on the trial was published. “Now, at last, I have a proper Wikipedia leg to stand on,” I thought as I opened the page and found at least a dozen statements that were factual errors, including some that contradicted their own cited sources. I found myself hesitant to write, eerily aware that the self-deputized protectors of the page were reading over my shoulder, itching to revert my edits and tutor me in Wiki-decorum. I made a small edit, testing the waters.

My improvement lasted five minutes before a Wiki-cop scolded me, “I hope you will familiarize yourself with some of Wikipedia’s policies, such as verifiability and undue weight. If all historians save one say that the sky was green in 1888, our policies require that we write ‘Most historians write that the sky was green, but one says the sky was blue.’ … As individual editors, we’re not in the business of weighing claims, just reporting what reliable sources write.”

High Court concludes The Pirate Bay infringes UK copyrights

High Court concludes The Pirate Bay infringes UK copyrights:

In unsurprising news, Dramatico Entertainment Ltd v British Sky Broadcasting Ltd [2012] EWHC 268 establishes that The Pirate Bay infringes the claimants’ UK copyrights by (i) authorising acts of copying and communication by its users; and (ii) engaging in a common design with those users to perform those infringing acts.  In a carefully-reasoned judgment, Arnold J sets out the background technology and analyses recent case law concerning the communication right.

Although this was a clear case, the Court was careful not to water down the applicable tests for secondary liability: authorisation, for example, remains “to grant or purport to grant to a third person the right to do the act complained of” — though it leads to a similar conclusion here to the broader “countenance, sanction of approve” test favoured in Australia (see, eg, Village Roadshow v iiNet).  Interestingly, Arnold J characterised the “means” of infringement as the torrent files:

The means used to infringe. The torrent files which are so conveniently indexed, arranged and presented by TPB constitute precisely the means necessary for users to infringe. It is the torrent files which provide the means by which users are able to download the “pieces” of the content files and/or to make them available to others.  Read more »

A third high-profile takedown in as many days: this week looks...



A third high-profile takedown in as many days: this week looks like a losing one for pirates.  Notorious e-book platform Library.nu has been shut down, according to news reports.  The website, in combination with cyber-locker ifile.it, hosted around 400,000 titles — mostly academic textbooks and popular fiction.  Apparently, the operators received around €8m per year from donations, ads and premium accounts, though they claimed that most of this was spent on server costs.

Unsurprisingly, a consortium of publishers (including HarperCollins, Macmillan, Pearson, Oxford University Press and the International Publishers) led the take-down.  For academic publishers, it cannot come too soon: Library.nu was notorious for releasing ‘lossless’ PDF copies of latest edition academic texts weeks before they were even released — presumably leaked from offshore printers and compositors.  Unfortunately for publishers, numerous equivalent platforms continue to supply their copyright works with impunity.

Joining a growing list of takedowns this week, music...



Joining a growing list of takedowns this week, music blog RnBXclusive.com has had its domain name confiscated by the United Kingdom Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). The move is unprecedented because it is the first (publicised) case in which a .com gTLD domain name has been seized by a UK government agency.  It is unclear what wrongs the website operator had committed, though a statement from SOCA suggests that they involve copyright infringement on a commercial scale:

The website in question specialised in RnB and enabled access to music obtained by hacking, including some which had not yet been released. IFPI estimates losses to legitimate businesses and artists caused by the site to be £15m a year. During the week running up to arrest phase the website had 70,000 users daily, mainly males aged 18 to 25 years. (emphasis added)

The concerning phrase here is ‘enabled access’.  If the music was not being hosted on the blog and was not actually procured or obtained by the website operator, it seems at least doubtful whether the website was committing an actionable wrong by linking or otherwise enabling access to the files in question.  At most, this might amount to the civil statutory tort of authorising copyright infringement.

Many have also pointed out that the warning message being displayed by SOCA in place of the site’s original content was highly misleading.  I look forward to hearing the matter determined fully in court.

In an astonishing display of executive power, popular business...



In an astonishing display of executive power, popular business form creation tool JotForm has had its domain name suspended by registrar GoDaddy at the ‘request’ of the US secret service.  It is unclear whether a court order was obtained or whether the request came from a state prosecutor.  Either way, this is a terrible denial of the right to a fair trial: JotForm was not notified of the action, has suffered irreparable damage to its business reputation, and it is unclear of what wrong they are accused.

Canada Supreme Court holds ISPs exempt from local content rules

In Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists Bell Aliant Regional Communications LP [2012] SCC 4, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a finding that Bell, Rogers and other Canadian ISPs are not broadcasting undertakings” within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act 1991 (CA), which means they are exempt from the obligation to contribute to local content.  The Court held:  Read more »

Canada Supreme Court holds ISPs exempt from local content rules

In Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists Bell Aliant Regional Communications LP [2012] SCC 4, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a finding that Bell, Rogers and other Canadian ISPs are not broadcasting undertakings” within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act 1991 (CA), which means they are exempt from the obligation to contribute to local content.  The Court held:  Read more »

Eolas jury holds embedded hypertext patent invalid

Eolas, a company which many describe as a “patent troll”, has suffered a serious set-back in litigation against, Google, Amazon and others.  As has been widely reported, a Texas jury found that the patent was invalid for want of novelty.  So, what was the patent?  According to the specification:

A system allowing a user of a browser program on a computer connected to an open distributed hypermedia system to access and execute an embedded program object. The program object is embedded into a hypermedia document much like data objects.

Relevantly, claim 1 claimed:

A method for running an application program in a computer network environment, comprising:

  1. providing at least one client workstation and one network server …
  2. a browser application … to display, on said client workstation, at least a portion of a first hypermedia document received over said network from said server … and wherein said embed text format is parsed by said browser to automatically … display [it] and enable interactive processing …

In other words, the plaintiff claimed something akin to the tag, utilised in a web browser.  After expert evidence from Tim Berners-Lee and Dave Ragett, the jury found that the claimed invention was not new as at 17 October 1994.  Read more »