Adsense HTML

Week 6: Content Regulation

This class will focus on laws and current issues relating to the regulation of content on the Internet.

Should freedom of speech on the Internet prevail over protection of the public interest? Does the public need to be protected? What is the difference between censorship and regulation?

What are the relevant public interests? Who decides?

Should there by government regulation, or reliance on technology (such as NetNanny), or parental responsibility (e.g., see Google's Family Safety Centre)?


Jurisdiction: Penguin v. American Buddha

See this decision from the highest court in NY: Penguin Group v. American Buddha

The case concerns whether NY courts have jurisdiction in a copyright case, involving a website controlled and located out of NY State. The Court decided that the situs of the injury was the location of the copyright holder -- i.e., in New York.

Spam Crime and Phishing (Week 5)

For this lecture we will be discussing:

Australian legislation - Spam Act 2003
How many prosecutions have been brought in Australia? Is the Spam Act an effective deterrent?
IIA Spam Code
US (CAN SPAM Act) and recent court action by Microsoft
What other jurisdictions have enacted Spam legislation?
Spam Laws

AFP - e-crime
Lack of reporting?
Hacking examples

Phishing attacks - Westpac ATO Canada CRA
Top 10 countries for phishing
Anti-phishing website

Keywords in Europe

Extract from legal newsletter, IBLS:

The latest advocate general opinion on keywords advertising could, if followed by the European court, have a significant impact on Google’s advertising model. The advocate general’s opinion in Interflora v M&S advises that a trademark owner can take action against an advertiser who attempts to benefit from the attractive force of the proprietor’s mark. This is the first time that such a high court has opined on a dispute between a trademark owner and advertiser, rather than examining Google’s role – but it could deter advertisers from bidding on others’ trademarks.

The advocate general states that trademark use as a keyword can be forbidden under Article 5(2) of the European Trademarks Directive if “the advertiser attempts thereby to benefit from its power of attraction, its reputation or its prestige, and to exploit the marketing effort expended by the proprietor of that mark in order to create and maintain the image of that mark”.

Yesterday evening a crowd gathered at University College London for a seminar on the future of advertising function of the trademark. Although the speakers were in the dark about the advocate general’s opinion in Interflora, they nevertheless provided insight that takes on a new light today. For instance, this latest opinion continues the court’s flirtation with the advertising function, which could disappoint Annette Kur, one of last night’s speakers and co-author of the recent study into the European trademark system. “Including the advertising function into reasoning under Article 5(2) TMD is unnecessary and dangerous,” she said, advising brand owners to forget about trying to use the advertising function to gain protection beyond the established function of the trademark. “Stick to what you know,” she said.

Trademark owners will have to wait some time for the court’s judgment in Interflora.

See also FT

TripAdvisor and Crime

"To our travel community: This past weekend we discovered that an unauthorized third party had stolen part of TripAdvisor's member email list. We've confirmed the source of the vulnerability and shut it down. We're taking this incident very seriously and are actively pursuing the matter with law enforcement. How will this affect you? In many cases, it won't. Only a portion of all member email addresses were taken, and all member passwords remain secure. You may receive some unsolicited emails (spam) as a result of this incident. The reason we are going directly to you with this news is that we think it's the right thing to do. As a TripAdvisor member, I would want to know. Unfortunately, this sort of data theft is becoming more common across many industries, and we take it extremely seriously. I'd also like to reassure you that TripAdvisor does not collect members' credit card or financial information, and we never sell or rent our member list. We will continue to take all appropriate measures to keep your personal information secure at TripAdvisor. I sincerely apologize for this incident and appreciate your membership in our travel community. Steve Kaufer
Co-founder and CEO More information"

Law Dog

Yale's dog: Click here.

Content Regulation - Government Launches Classification Review

See ABC article

"The Minister responsible for classification, Brendan O'Connor, said technology is fast moving and the review will examine how the classification can cater for further advances into the future.

"A lot has changed in recent years. Australians now access content through the Internet and mobile phones and that poses challenges for the existing classification scheme," Mr O'Connor said. "We're also seeing the convergence of different technology platforms and the worldwide accessibility of some content, which also creates new concerns," he said.

"Australians need to be confident that our classification system will help them make informed choices about what they choose to read, see, hear and play," Mr O'Connor said. "That's particularly important for parents who rely on the National Classification Scheme to make sensible choices for their children," he said."

Google Copyright Settlement Rejected

Google infringes copyright on a grand scale.
Yesterday, Judge Denny Chin of the District Court for the Southern District of New York rejected the proposed settlement in The Authors Guild v. Google Inc. in relation to Google digitizing books.  The judge stated:  "The question presented is whether the [Amended Settlement Agreement (the “ASA”)] is fair, adequate, and reasonable.  I conclude that it is not.
While the digitization of books and the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many, the ASA would simply go too far.  It would permit this class action – which was brought against [Google] to challenge its scanning of books and display of “snippets” for on-line searching – to implement a forward-looking business arrangement that would grant Google significant rights to exploit entire books without permission of the copyright owners.  Indeed, the ASA would give Google a significant advantage over competitors, rewarding it for engagin in wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission, while releasing claims well beyond those presented in the case."  

U.S. Patent Case

The recent U.S. case of CLS Bank v. Alice addresses patent eligibility requirements  for computer-implemented business and financial methods.  

Alice is an Australian company that owns four United States patents; it asserts that CLS infringes these four patents. CLS is an “Edge Act Corporation,” organized under Section 25A of the Federal Reserve Act, as amended, 12 U.S.C. § 611, and authorized by statute to engage in international banking activities.

Summary provided by the U.S. law firm that represented the successful party: On March 9, 2011, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed all claims of patent infringement brought under four patents directed to computer-implemented methods, systems, and products for exchanging a financial obligation, because each of the patent claims was directed to an “abstract idea” and was invalid because it was directed to non-patentable subject matter. The decision is significant because, among other things, it addressed numerous questions left unanswered by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year in Bilski v. Kappos, 130 S. Ct. 3218 (2010). This Client Alert reviews the decision and the significance the decision may have on the scope of the abstract idea exception that had not been addressed either by the Federal Circuit or by the Supreme Court in their respective Bilski decisions.  

Seizure of Domain Names

A post from a student:

"Earlier this year an Act was passed by the US government (Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act) which specifically allows the seizure of any website which has been "'primarily designed' to offer goods and services in violation of the Copyright Act and / or the Lanham Act".

In February the US Department of Homeland Security used this new act to seize 83 internet domains. The seizure involved re directing the DNS of that domain to a banner as shown here. One domain in particular was, this web site hosted links to other sites which hosted copyrighted material. The site operator Brian McCarthy is now facing court for Criminal Infringement of a Copyright.

As a part of this DNS seizure the DNS hosting provider FreeDNS was disabled. This caused the approximately 84,000 customers of FreeDNS to be redirected to the DHS 'banner', some of whom were not related to the original seizure at all (eg"

Compare the Australian case of

Cooper v Universal Music Australia Pty Ltd [2006] FCAFC 187

See also

Marketing Issues with Social Media

ADVERTISING: When the Marketing Reach of Social Media Backfires  What happens when behavior on social media is deemed antisocial?  Full story here.

Social Networks Seminar

There is an expensive seminar on 1 April regarding social networks.

"As the flames of revolution in the Middle East continue to be fanned by Facebook groups and a chorus of tweets, our panel of international experts tackles the massive potential and limitations of social technologies.

Together they will take a look at the role social media is playing in bringing about true democracy, challenging conventional economies and helping the scientific community accelerate research."

Details here if interested.

The Evolving Mission of Google

THE MEDIA EQUATION: The Evolving Mission of Google  Google will tell you insistently that it is not a media company — it organizes and manages content, but does not produce it. Watch closely.  See NY Times article

Privacy - Week 4

Office of Australian Information Commissioner - look at the Privacy Act and Privacy Principles.
What legislative changes have been proposed for Australian privacy laws?
You should also be aware of relevant case law in this area - is there a right to privacy at common law?
Privacy Foundation

International rights
Art 17 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

Privacy Policies
Do you understand/agree to all of these terms?

Cookie Central

Google Maps
Legal responses - Australia; USA; Czech Republic; Germany. What are some other responses from around the world, particularly in relation to the Street View data collection issue?

No longer a social norm?


Internet business models

Article on price fixing issues for ebooks - see here.

Keyword Decision in California

See Network Automation v. Advanced Systems Concepts

"Here we consider whether the use of another’s trademark as a search engine keyword to trigger one’s own product advertisement violates the Lanham Act. ...

Given the nature of the alleged infringement here, the most relevant factors to the analysis of the likelihood of con- fusion are: (1) the strength of the mark; (2) the evidence of actual confusion; (3) the type of goods and degree of care likely to be exercised by the purchaser; and (4) the labeling and appearance of the advertisements and the surrounding context on the screen displaying the results page.

The district court did not weigh the Sleekcraft factors flexibly to match the specific facts of this case. It relied on the Internet “troika,” which is highly illuminating in the context of domain names, but which fails to discern whether there is a likelihood of confusion in a keywords case. Because the linchpin of trademark infringement is consumer confusion, the district court abused its discretion in issuing the injunction. "

Class 3 - Internet Jurisdiction

The next class is Internet jurisdiction. In addition to the notes in the Study Guide, please read the following:

Sliding Scale Test:

Zippo case

Effects Test:

Calder v. Jones (US Supreme Court)

Application of Effects Test:

Weather Underground case (and complete court file for this case if interested)

Australian approach:

Dow Jones v. Gutnick (High Court of Australia)

[Defamation - including Internet cases - background information if interested]

Queensland Police information

Could two courts come to an inconsistent result in the same case:
See The Secret litigation
See also prior posts if interested, for example.

Australian Domain Names

Australia’s Internet community celebrated a significant milestone last night with the registration of the two millionth .au domain name.

UDRP - Bad Faith Registration

In a UDRP proceeding against a cybersquatter, the Complainant has to prove three elements. The third element is bad faith registration and use. Some decisions have interpreted this requirement as being bad faith registration only. However, the traditional view that both bad faith registration and bad faith use is required, was supported, by majority, in the recent decision.

See also this DomainNameWire article.

Note that in Australia, under the auDRP, the requirement is different -- bad faith registration or bad faith use ("domain name has been registered or subsequently used in bad faith").

Keywords in Canada

Last month (February 2011) in Private Career Training Institutions Agency v Vancouver Career College (Burnaby) Inc, the Court of Appeal for British Columbia refused to grant an injunction preventing the use of names of competitors in Google and Yahoo keywords as part of internet advertising.


When you are doing electronic research on the Internet, the iCyte tool is useful. See You can use it to save and annotate your research. It is free for students.

Week 2 - Google and Social Media

On Monday we will be looking at the business models of companies who operate primarily on the Internet. We will look at the rules you must comply with when using their sites (in addition to all other laws that apply), and the benefits/criticisms of their business models. In particular, we will focus on Google and Facebook, but will also try to cover Amazon, eBay and Twitter. You should be familar with the products/services offered by these companies, and their terms and conditions.

What are the risks of doing business with these organisations?

For some background you can look at:

Don't Be Evil

Google Product Offerings

Google Watch

Google Book Project

AdWords - Australia

Facebook and Privacy

Click fraud

Endorsements - US position

Study guides

For those in the class asking about study guides, paper copies have been mailed to you, and you should receive them within the next few days. In the meantime, you can access an electronic copy under the "Learning Resources" tab of the Blackboard site.

How should damages be assessed for privacy and cybersecurity breaches

Listen to this podcast where I discuss how damages should be assessed in privacy and cybersecurity lawsuits. The Lawyers Weekly Show host J...