Digital Developments

European parliament rejects anti-piracy treaty

Eric Pfanner, Business Standard

Jul 06, 2012

Foes of the treaty said the vote, by an overwhelming margin in the European Parliament at Strasbourg, would probably end the prospects of European involvement in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, which has been signed by the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia, South Korea and a number of individual EU members.

The vote was not even close, with 478 members of Parliament opposing the treaty, only 39 supporting it and 146 abstaining, yet it leaves considerable uncertainty. Under EU law, the treaty cannot go into effect without the Parliament’s endorsement.

“It’s a crushing victory,” said Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesman for La Quadrature du Net, a group in Paris that was active in the treaty protests. “It’s a political symbol on an enormous scale, in which citizens of the world, connected by the internet, have managed to defeat these powerful, entrenched industries.”

The legality of second hand software sales in the EU

by Jas Purewal, Gamer Law

Posted on 3.7.12

The second hand sale of physical and digital software has effectively been declared legal, according to a judgment published by the Court of Justice of the European Union today.  This has the potential to have a real impact on the way that software is sold and consumed – but at the same time the case raises more questions than it answers, so we’re really not in a clear cut situation at all.

Essentially, the court held that, under EU law, the right of software developers to control distribution of a piece of software – whether stored physically or digitally –  is “exhausted” (i.e. lost) once the developer has been paid for it (known as a “first sale“).  This means that developers lose the ability to prohibit any second hand sale.

However, if a second hand sale goes ahead then the first purchaser must stop using her copy of the software and render it unusable, because the developer’s right to control reproduction of software is not exhausted on a second hand sale.  In order to make sure that the first purchaser stops using the software she has sold on, it is permissible for the software developer to use “technical protective measures such as product keys“.

(h/t Ian Welsh)

Verizon Playing Dangerous Game in Net Neutrality Battle

By Tony Bradley, PCWorld

Jul 3, 2012 5:13 pm

This time around, Verizon is playing the First Amendment card. The challenge, essentially, is that by limiting Verizon’s ability to choose which content to block or promote, the FCC is infringing on Verizon’s right to free speech.

There are a couple major flaws in the argument. First, an individual’s right to free speech shouldn’t apply equally to a corporation.

Second, the FCC net neutrality rules don’t actually inhibit an ISP’s ability to express itself freely. Under the FCC rules, Verizon is free to publish whatever content it chooses–it simply can’t block or discriminate against other content as a matter of business practice.

The fact of the matter is the vast majority of the data traversing the ISP’s network (like Verizon) doesn’t belong to the ISP in the first place. An argument could be made that by throttling or blocking traffic Verizon is actually the party guilty of stepping on the First Amendment rights of others.

Part of the underlying problem is the fact that the major ISPs are also content providers. Verizon has a vested interest in preventing Netflix traffic because it has its own streaming entertainment services. Comcast is owned by NBC, so it could gain a strategic advantage for its own content by throttling the bandwidth for rival networks. The simple solution is for Congress to impose regulations banning ISPs from delivering their own content, or being owned by companies that publish or deliver content.

If the net neutrality rules suggested by the FCC to keep the Internet fair and open to all seem too draconian for Verizon, perhaps the problem is that Verizon the ISP needs to be separated from Verizon the cable TV provider, or Verizon the wireless broadband provider, or Verizon the VoIP (voice over IP) phone provider.


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