Friday, November 06, 2009

Spain rules out 3 strikes?

Just as they are about to assume the presidency of the EU in January 2010, the Spanish government has stated they are "not considering punitive measures for the end user of Internet", which is being read in some quarters as ruling out a 3 strikes law in Spain.

This is interesting, given that the compromise between the EU parliament and Council on amendment 138 to the telecoms package now could possilbly facilitate 3 strikes in member states which decided to introduce such schemes; and given that discussions on ACTA this week seem to be specifically (at least partly) about mandating 3 strikes regimes globally.

France have finally got their 3 strikes HADOPI law approved by the constitutional council.  Ireland have a partial 3 strikes regime since Eircom folded in their legal battle with the music industry and agreed to implement it, on condition the music companies sued Eircom's main competitors with the objective of getting them to implement 3 strikes too.  The UK government, at least in the form of Peter Mandelson, are now pushing strongly for a 3 strikes type approach here, though it's unlikely to go through before the general election next year; at which point Mr Mandelson may no longer be in a position to implement such a law (if as widely predicted the Conservative party, which has indicated they are opposed to 3 strikes, win an overall majority).  Germany is strongly opposed as are a number of other member states at the moment.  Spain's stance is important since it will influence the EU's legislative agenda over the next 6 to 8 months but it looks like 3 strikes will be a fluid issue for some time.

ACTA Internet chapter leak

Michael Geist helpfully points to the leaked ACTA Internet Chapter information available at Scribd.  Embedded below though you need a login ID and password to download from Scribd.

ACTA Internet Chapter info                                                                                                                                                        


Michael Froomkin has pulled in an impressive list of contributors for an innovative looking new online journal Jotwell. In Michael's own words:
"Welcome to Jotwell: The Journal of Things We Like (Lots). Here you will find leading academics and practitioners providing short reviews of recent scholarship related to the law that the reviewer likes and thinks deserves a wide audience.
Jotwell is a special type of law review housed on a set of inter-linked blogs. As a law review, Jotwell has only one mission: to bring to readers’ attention great recent scholarship related to the law. As a blog we invite your comments, and hope that some of our reviews will spark a conversation.
On the Jotwell main page you should expect new content once or twice a week, although as we add more sections contributions may become more frequent. Each of the subject-specific sections will have something new at least once a month. In any case, every time a new review appears in any of the subject-specific sections, an excerpt with a link to the full text will also appear here on our front page at"
It's a great idea and a potential model for other subject matter right across the arts and sciences.  I wish them every success with it and hope to be able to carve out some space to follow developments.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

UK Supreme Court first ruling: criminal records checks often go too far

In one of their first ever judgments, in R (on the application of L) (FC) (Appellant) v Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis) (Respondent), the judges at the UK's new Supreme Court have ruled that criminal records checks often go too far.  The Court's press release summarises the judgement:
"The Supreme Court holds that, when determining whether to disclose non-criminal related
information retained in police records in connection with an application to work with
vulnerable persons, the police must give due weight to the applicant’s right to respect for her
private life. However, the facts narrated were true, the allegation was directly relevant to her
employment and the school was entitled to be apprised of the information.
Therefore, while the consequences for the appellant’s private life are regrettable, disclosure
could not in this case be said to be disproportionate to the public interest in protecting
vulnerable people [para [48], [49], [58] and [86]]. The appeal must be dismissed...
Amongst the reasons for the decision the summary lists:
 Those who apply for positions that require an ECRC cannot be regarded as consenting to their
privacy rights being violated. Consent is predicated on the basis that the right to respect for
private life will be respected [para [43]]. Otherwise, legislation could easily circumvent HRA
rights by effectively curtailing access to benefits unless people ‘consent’ to invasions of their
rights [para [73]].
 The police’s historic approach towards balancing the public interest in protecting vulnerable
persons and respecting Article 8 rights was flawed, as they applied a general presumption that
in cases of conflict the public interest should generally prevail [para [44]]. Article 8 requires
that neither consideration be afforded precedence over the other – each interest should be
given careful consideration in assessing the proportionality of the proposed disclosure [paras
[45], [63] and [85]]."
The Telegraph doesn't miss the opportunity to report on a dent in the state's big brother apparatus.

German Constitutional Court 1983: Mass surveillance is incompatible with a free and democratic society

Thanks to Douwe Korff via FIPR for this extract from the German Constitutional Court's famous 1983 Census-judgment:
“A social and legal order in which the citizen can no longer know who knows what and when about him and in which situation, is incompatible with the right to informational self-determination. A person who wonders whether unusual behaviour is noted each time and thereafter always kept on record, used or disseminated, will try not to come to attention in this way. A person who assumes, for instance, that participation in a meeting or citizen initiative is officially recorded, and may create risks for him, may well decide not to use the relevant fundamental rights ([as guaranteed in] Articles 8 and 9 of the Constitution). This would not only limit the possibilities for personal development of the individual, but also the common good, because self-determination is an essential prerequisite for a free and democratic society that is based on the capacity and solidarity of its citizens.”

WIPO Director General calls for transparency on ACTA

IP Watch, in Perpetual Protection Of Traditional Knowledge “Not On Table” At WIPO, report that the Director General of WIPO, Francis Gurry, has called for greater transparency on the ACTA negotiations.
"On the secretive Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, Gurry said that WIPO too did not know a great deal about the talks.
“Naturally we prefer open, transparent international processes to arrive at conclusions that are of concern to the whole world,” he said, citing WIPO’s role as an international, United Nations agency. And, he added, “IP is of concern to the whole world.”
On copyright protection in the internet age, the “problem we have is massive,” he said, citing the example of the newspaper industry and the music industry, both suffering as new technology necessitates changes in old business models.
This problem “deals with the financing of culture in the 21st century,” he added, saying that whatever legal model goes into place to facilitate cultural exchange “should be technology neutral.”
Gurry further mentioned the WIPO Development Agenda, reiterating that it aims to “mainstream development” throughout the UN agency, and is not intended to be “sitting in one corner of the organisation,” but rather should be reflected in “every single aspect of the organisation.”"
Well said.