Category Archives: Copyright

AG Szpunar in Stichting Brein v Ziggo: An Indirect Harmonisation of Indirect Liability?

In the following piece, Christina Angelopoulos, Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law at the University of Cambridge, analyses the recent Opinion by AG Szpunar in case C-610/15, Stichting Brein v Ziggo. The post was originally published on the Kluwer Copyright Blog.

On 8 February, Advocate General Szpunar handed down his Opinion on Stichting Brein v Ziggo. The case is significant, as it represents the first time that the liability of an internet intermediary for copyright infringement will be considered by the CJEU. To date, all decisions handed down by that court on intermediary liability have instead concentrated on the related question of injunctions against intermediaries whose services are used by third parties to infringe.

Questions Referred

The case finds its origins in the Netherlands, where Stichting Brein, a Dutch anti-piracy organisation, applied for an injunctive order against internet access providers Ziggo and XS4ALL that would require them to block access for their customers to the peer-to-peer file-sharing website The Pirate Bay (TPB).

That application was upheld at first instance, but dismissed on appeal, on the grounds that, first, it is the customers of Ziggo and XS4ALL, and not TPB itself, who are the originators of the copyright infringements and, secondly, that the blocking sought would not be proportionate to the aim pursued, i.e. the effective protection of copyright.

The case eventually made it before the Hoge Raad, the Dutch Supreme Court, which decided to submit two questions to the CJEU. Essentially, these ask the following:

  1. Does TPB, by providing a system through which metadata on protected works that are present on its users’ computers is indexed and categorised, thus enabling those users to trace, upload and download the works, engage in a communication to the public of those works for the purposes of EU copyright law?
  1. If the answer to Question 1 is negative, may an injunction nevertheless be issued against Ziggo and XS4ALL, requiring them to block access for their customers to TPB?

It should be noted from the outset that these two questions are seen by the Dutch court as interconnected. The Hoge Raad is essentially querying whether TPB must be an infringer before access to it may be blocked.

[To continue reading this post on the Kluwer Copyright Blog, click here.]

New Study on Intermediary Liability and European Copyright Reform

Dr Christina Angelopoulos, associate research fellow at the Information Law & Policy Centre and lecturer at the University of Cambridge, has authored a study entitled ‘On Online Platforms and the Commission’s New Proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market’.

The study, commissioned by MEP Julia Reda, evaluates the provisions of the European Commission’s Proposal of 14 September 2016 for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market that are relevant to the issue of intermediary liability.

The study concludes that key elements of these provisions are incompatible with existing EU directives, as well as with the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.

In particular, the study suggests that the Proposal misinterprets EU copyright and related rights law by implying that intermediaries that allow users to host content in a public manner are themselves performing an act of communication to the public. The study argues that acts of facilitation of third party copyright infringement are instead the rightful domain, not of primary, but of accessory liability, an area of copyright and related rights law that has not yet been harmonised at the EU level.

Continue reading

The Competence of the European Union in Copyright Lawmaking

competence-of-eu-in-copyright-lawmakingBook launch event at the IALS
6pm – 8pm, 15 Dec 2016

Register online at Eventbrite to book your free ticket

Speaker: Dr Ana Ramalho, Assistant Professor of Intellectual Property, Maastricht University

Discussant: Professor Lionel Bently, Herchel Smith Professor of Intellectual Property and Director of the Centre for Intellectual Property and Information Law, University of Cambridge.

In this seminar Ana Ramalho will discuss her new book, which inquires into the competence of the EU to legislate in the field of copyright and uses content analysis techniques to demonstrate the existence of a normative gap in copyright lawmaking.

To address that gap Ana Ramalho proposes the creation of benchmarks of legislative activity, reasoning that EU secondary legislation, such as directives and regulations, should be based on higher sources of law.

In the book she investigates two such possible sources: the activity of the EU Court of Justice in the pre-legislative era and the EU treaties. From these sources Ana Ramalho establishes concrete benchmarks of legislative activity, which she then tests by applying them to current EU copyright legislation.

This provides examples of good and bad practices in copyright lawmaking and also shows how the benchmarks could be implemented in copyright legislation. Finally, Ana Ramalho offers some recommendations in this regard.

This seminar will be followed by the book launch of “The Competence of the European Union in Copyright Lawmaking: A Normative Perspective of EU Powers for Copyright Harmonization” by Ana Ramalho

Full Programme: Annual Workshop and Evening Lecture

Restricted and Redacted: Where now for human rights and digital information control?

The full programme for the Information Law and Policy Centre’s annual workshop and lecture on Wednesday 9th November 2016 is now available (see below).

For both events, attendance will be free of charge thanks to the support of the IALS and our sponsor, Bloomsbury’s Communications Law journal.

To register for the afternoon workshop please visit this Eventbrite page.
To register for the evening lecture please visit this Eventbrite Page.

Please note that for administrative purposes you will need to book separate tickets for the afternoon and evening events if you would like to come to both events.

PROGRAMME

10.45am: REGISTRATION AND COFFEE 

11.15am: Welcome

  • Judith Townend, University of Sussex
  • Paul Wragg, University of Leeds
  • Julian Harris, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London

11.30am-1pm: PANEL 1 – choice between A and B

Panel A: Social media, online privacy and shaming

Chair: Asma Vranaki, Queen Mary University of London

  1. David Mangan, City, University of London, Dissecting Social Media: Audience and Authorship
  2. Marion Oswald, Helen James, Emma Nottingham, University of Winchester, The not-so-secret life of five year olds: Legal and ethical issues relating to disclosure of information and the depiction of children on broadcast and social media
  3. Maria Run Bjarnadottir, Ministry of the Interior in Iceland, University of Sussex, Does the internet limit human rights protection? The case of revenge porn
  4. Tara Beattie, University of Durham, Censoring online sexuality – A non-heteronormative, feminist perspective

Panel B: Access to Information and protecting the public interest

Chair: Judith Townend, University of Sussex

  1. Ellen P. Goodman, Rutgers University, Obstacles to Using Freedom of Information Laws to Unpack Public/Private Deployments of Algorithmic Reasoning in the Public Sphere
  2. Felipe Romero-Moreno, University of Hertfordshire, ‘Notice and staydown’, the use of content identification and filtering technology posing a fundamental threat to human rights
  3. Vigjilenca Abazi, Maastricht University, Mapping Whistleblowing Protection in Europe: Information Flows in the Public Interest

1-2pm: LUNCH 

2-3.30pm: PANEL 2 – choice between A and B

Panel A: Data protection and surveillance

Chair: Nora Ni Loideain, University of Cambridge

  1. Jiahong Chen, University of Edinburgh, How the Best Laid Plans Go Awry: The (Unsolved) Issues of Applicable Law in the General Data Protection Regulation
  2. Jessica Cruzatti-Flavius, University of Massachusetts, The Human Hard Drive: Name Erasure and the Rebranding of Human Beings
  3. Wenlong Li, University of Edinburgh, Right to Data Portability (RDP)
  4. Ewan Sutherland, Wits University, Wire-tapping in the regulatory state – changing times, changing mores

Panel B: Technology, power and governance

Chair: Chris Marsden, University of Sussex

  1. Monica Horten, London School of Economics, How Internet structures create closure for freedom of expression – an exploration of human rights online in the context of structural power theory
  2. Perry Keller, King’s College, London, Bringing algorithmic governance to the smart city
  3. Marion Oswald, University of Winchester and Jamie Grace, Sheffield Hallam University, Intelligence, policing and the use of algorithmic analysis – initial conclusions from a survey of UK police forces using freedom of information requests as a research methodology
  4. Allison Holmes, Kent University, Private Actor or Public Authority? How the Status of Communications Service Providers affects Human Rights

3.30-5pm: PANEL 3 – choice between A and B

Panel A: Intermediary Liability

Chair: Christina Angelopoulos, University of Cambridge

  1. Judit Bayer, Miskolc University, Freedom and Diversity on the Internet: Liability of Intermediaries for Third Party Content
  2. Mélanie Dulong de Rosnay, Félix Tréguer, CNRS-Sorbonne Institute for Communication Sciences and Federica Giovanella, University of Trento, Intermediary Liability and Community Wireless Networks Design Shaping
  3. David Rolph, University of Sydney, Liability of Search Engines for Publication of Defamatory Matter: An Australian Perspective

Panel B: Privacy and anonymity online

Chair: Paul Wragg, University of Leeds

  1. Gavin Phillipson, University of Durham, Threesome injuncted: has the Supreme Court turned the tide against the media in online privacy cases?
  2. Fiona Brimblecombe, University of Durham, European Privacy Law
  3. James Griffin, University of Exeter and Annika Jones, University of Durham, The future of privacy in a world of 3D printing

5-6pm: TEA BREAK / STRETCH YOUR LEGS

6-8pm: EVENING LECTURE AND DRINKS

Lecture Title: Heads and shoulders, knees and toes (and eyes and ears and mouth and nose…): The impact of the General Data Protection Regulation on use of biometrics.

Biometrics are touted as one of the next big things in the connected world. Specific reference to biometrics and genetic data has been included for the first time in the General Data Protection Regulation. How does this affect existing provisions? Will the impact of the Regulation be to encourage or to restrict the development of biometric technology?

  • Speaker: Rosemary Jay, Senior Consultant Attorney at Hunton & Williams and author of Sweet & Maxwell’s Data Protection Law & Practice.
  • Chair: Professor Lorna Woods, University of Essex
  • Respondents: Professor Andrea Matwyshyn, Northeastern University and Mr James Michael, IALS

Information Law and Policy Centre Annual Lecture and Workshop

An afternoon workshop and evening lecture to be given by leading information and data protection lawyer Rosemary Jay.

Restricted and Redacted: Where now for human rights and digital information control?

The Information Law and Policy Centre is delighted to announce that bookings are now open for its annual workshop and lecture on Wednesday 9th November 2016, this year supported by Bloomsbury’s Communications Law journal.

For both events, attendance will be free of charge thanks to the support of the IALS and our sponsor, although registration will be required as places are limited.

To register for the afternoon workshop please visit this Eventbrite page.

To register for the evening lecture please visit this Eventbrite Page.

Please note that for administrative purposes you will need to book separate tickets for the afternoon and evening events if you would like to come to both events.

AFTERNOON WORKSHOP/SEMINAR 
11am – 5pm (lunch and refreshments provided)

For the afternoon part of this event we have an excellent set of presentations lined up that consider information law and policy in the context of human rights. Speakers will offer an original perspective on the way in which information and data interact with legal rights and principles relating to free expression, privacy, data protection, reputation, copyright, national security, anti-discrimination and open justice.

We will be considering topics such as internet intermediary liability, investigatory and surveillance powers, media regulation, freedom of information, the EU General Data Protection Regulation, whistleblower protection, and ‘anti-extremism’ policy. The full programme will be released in October.

EVENING LECTURE BY ROSEMARY JAY, HUNTON & WILLIAMS
6pm-7.30pm (followed by reception)

The afternoon workshop will be followed by a keynote lecture to be given by Rosemary Jay, senior consultant attorney at Hunton & Williams and author of Sweet & Maxwell’s Data Protection Law & Practice. Continue reading

Brexit: “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”

Brexit IT law scrabble

In the following editorial, Professor Lilian Edwards considers the implications of the Brexit vote for information law and assesses the mood amongst the academic community in the aftermath of the EU Referendum.

The article was first published in Volume 13, Issue 2 of SCRIPT-ed: A Journal of Law, Technology and Society. Professor Edwards’ views do not represent those of the Information Law and Policy Centre or the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. 

On 23 June 2016 a slim majority of UK voters decided we should leave the EU in one of the great political upsets of British political history. On 24 June, the next day, CREATe,[1] the RCUK copyright and business models centre which I have helped run since 2012, ran a one-day festival at the Royal Society of the Arts in London. This was designed to be a showcase and celebration of four years of working at the cutting edge of copyright and how it either helps or hinders the creative industries and arts. Hundreds of academics signed up to show and see, including the Director of CREATe, Martin Kretschmer of Glasgow University, from Germany by birth, and many others from all over Europe and beyond.

It was a classic international IT/intellectual property event: analysing laws made throughout the world to regulate globalised cultural markets, transnational data and product flows, disruptive technologies that disregard borders, and audiences as likely to listen to music made in Brazil via decentralised P2P networks, as watch Netflix series made in the US, or use smartphones made in Japan to watch Hindi pop videos on YouTube.

In the event, the CREATe Festival became more of a wake. Reportedly, experienced academics, who thought themselves hardened to trauma by years of bombardment from REF, TEF and NSS, were almost in tears at the first session. This writer, derelict of duty, was not there to corroborate, still staring like a rabbit in the headlights at the TV in a hotel bedroom in Docklands, where the dominant tech, business and financial workers were almost equally in shock.

So, Brexit. As the dust not so much settles as temporarily accumulates while we work out what on earth happens next, what are the implications for IT law and UK academe? Are they really as bad as they seemed that morning? Continue reading

The socio-legal aspects of 3D printing: Between “chaos” and “control”

Socio-legal aspects bookNot so long ago 3D printing was being discussed alongside the internet, file sharing and digital currencies as a sign of the beginning of an era of post-control and post-scarcity.

There were fears that governments would struggle to regulate the activities of a new generation of “prosumers” (producer-consumers) and that economic and legal certainties would be challenged by an increase in the decentralised “free” supply of goods.

Last night, at the Information Law and Policy Centre, Dr Angela Daly and Dr Dinusha Mendis presented a more nuanced view of the prospects of 3D printing as a “disruptive” technology to mark the launch of Daly’s new book, Socio-Legal Aspects of the 3D Printing Revolution.

Daly, a research fellow at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Law, shared findings from postdoctoral research at the Swinburne University of Technology considering the legal aspects of 3D printing from the standpoint of the US, UK-EU and Australian legal systems.

s200_angela.dalyDaly’s transnational lens enabled her to identify a number of divergent legal approaches to 3D printing in relation to exceptions to infringement, intermediary liability, copyright and DMCA takedowns.

She found that the legal implications of 3D printing were hard to generalise despite attempts at the harmonisation of international law. More often the legal status of 3D printing was both nationally and scenario specific. To this end, Daly noted that it would also be interesting to research how legal jurisdictions in emerging economies were tackling 3D printing.

Focussing particularly on the potential problems created for Intellectual Property law by 3D printing, Daly concluded that the technology was neither leading to “total chaos” nor “total control”.

She highlighted that 3D printing has not yet become a mainstream practice – despite entry level 3D printers selling for around £500, far fewer people own one than they do a smartphone or computer. Daly also emphasised that incumbent businesses and companies are incorporating 3D printing into their business models.

She stated, therefore, that although there was some chaos around the edges – such as the ability for people to print 3D guns – the overall picture was that from a socio-legal perspective the technology was not currently particularly ‘disruptive’.

Dinusha MendisDaly’s position was reinforced by a presentation from Dr Dinusha Mendis, Co-Director of the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy and Management (CIPPM) at Bournemouth University. Mendis has conducted research on the Intellectual Property and Copyright implications of 3D printing including work which was commissioned by the UK government’s Intellectual Property Office.

Of fundamental concern here is the potential illegal copying and use of the computer-aided design (CAD) files required to print objects in 3D. Her research identified hundreds of online platforms for the distribution of 3D printing files which were providing access to hundreds of thousands of designs.

Mendis’ research into online platforms reveals that interest in 3D printing has grown immensely between 2008 and 2014, but she identified limitations to the spread of the practice.

Potential users do not always have access to the right materials, funds to be able to purchase more sophisticated printers or the legal knowledge to license their work. Moreover, companies and businesses in this field informed her that there was currently little commercial impact on either automotive or domestic products. They predicted that 3D printing would remain limited for the next five to ten years.

For both Mendis and Daly, then, 3D printing has not yet lived up to initial hype over its ‘disruptive’ potential. Mendis recommended a ‘wait and see’ approach to UK government, concerned that legislating too hastily in this area might stifle creativity.

Nevertheless, as 3D printing technology improves and becomes cheaper, it might become the focus of increasing interest for legal scholars in the future.

Further Reading

A. Daly (2016) Socio-Legal Aspects of the 3D Printing Revolution, Palgrave MacMillan: UK
D. Mendis (2015) A Legal and Empirical Study into the Intellectual Property Implications of 3D Printing.
D. Mendis (2014) “Clone Wars”: Episode II – The Next Generation: The Copyright Implications relating to 3D Printing and Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Files. Law, Innovation and Technology, 6 (2), 265-281.
D. Mendis (2013) ‘The Clone Wars’ – Episode 1: The Rise of 3D Printing and its Implications for Intellectual Property Law – Learning Lessons from the Past?,  European Intellectual Property Review, 35 (3), 155-169.

The Centre’s researchers ‘on tour’ this summer

Freedom of Expression conference South Korea 14-06-16 web 2

Members of the Information Law and Policy Centre will be sharing their research and expertise at several international events over the coming week.

Centre Director Dr Judith Townend visited Japan to present on social media law in the UK at the annual International Communications Association conference in Fukuoka on Saturday. She visited Seoul this week to participate in the following events:

  • Tuesday 14th June: Freedom of Expression with Regard to Terror, Right to be Forgotten & Social Media, Chung Ang Law School
  • Thursday 16th June: Media Law Forum, Korean Press Arbitration Commission

Meanwhile Dr Christina Angelopoulos was in Brussels last week at EuroDig 2016. The event, organised by the European Dialogue on Internet Governance, focused on topics around “Embracing the digital (r)evolution”.

She participated in a panel session on “The rules in the digital world – economy v human rights” and was a ‘key participant’ in a session on “Intermediaries and human rights – between co-opted law enforcement and human rights protection”.

On Thursday 16th June, Christina will be contributing to a workshop organised by Marietje Schaake MEP on: “Privatising the rule of law online? Freedom of speech, copyright and platforms in the digital single market”. She will be speaking on a panel discussing privatised law enforcement and copyright enforcement.

Do introduce yourself to Judith or Christina if you are attending the events this Thursday and you are interested in their work. You can also contact them on Twitter: @jtownend and @cjangelopoulos.

Workshop summary: Evaluating legal responses to threats to news in a digital environment

On the 3rd November 2015, a workshop was held at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) in London, to discuss potential legal responses to threats to the production of news in a digital environment. Particular attention was paid to copyright.

The workshop was an output of a two-year study funded by the AHRC, entitled ‘Appraising Potential Legal Responses to Threats to the Production of News in a Digital Environment’.

The co-Principal Investigators in the study are Professors Lionel Bently of Cambridge University and Ian Hargreaves of Cardiff University. The Research Associate is Dr Richard Danbury.

Present were academics, representatives of news publishers, and representatives of digital information businesses.

On the basis of the discussions that unfolded during the workshop, Richard Danbury has now compiled a report. This can be downloaded in PDF format at this link below.

R Danbury – Public Summary of London Workshop

 

Notice-and-Fair-Balance: the Law of Fundamental Rights in European Intermediary Liability

On 11 April 2016, Christina Angelopoulos of the Information Law and Policy Centre, Institute for Advanced Legal Studies and Stijn Smet of the Human Rights Centre, Ghent University gave a presentation at the BILETA Conference (which took place this year at the University of Hertfordshire) on their paper entitled “Notice-And-Fair-Balance: the Law of Fundamental Rights in European Intermediary Liability”.

The abstract of the presentation (which can be found on the BILETA website here) is as follows:

Abstract

Notice-and-action has been the preferred answer to questions of intermediary liability for alleged unlawful online information for over 15 years: first adopted, in the form of “notice-and-takedown”, in the US in 1998 as part of the DMCA safe harbours , the concept quickly spread across the globe in a variety of different mutations, including “notice-and-notice” (adopted in Canada), “notice-and-disconnection” (pioneered in France), notice-and-stay-down (still popular in Germany), “notice-and-judicial-take-down” (encountered in Chile) and notice-wait-and-takedown (a Japanese invention).

Following the general trend, the EU introduced a basic “notice-and-takedown” regime in 2000 by means of the hosting immunity of Article 14 of the E-Commerce Directive. While this provision has proven undoubtedly useful, it is also sparse on the details, creating legal uncertainty and undermining its harmonising power. In addition, it applies horizontally, i.e. to all areas of law, leaving no room for appropriate gradations. As a result of its alleged shortcomings, calls to reformulate the E-Commerce system into a more elaborate notice-and-action procedure have been made. These calls seem to have found the Commission’s ear: a series of Communications (most recently in December 2015 on “a modern, more European copyright framework”) show the EU’s interest in developing a more intricate European notice-and-action system.

At the same time, the European discussion on intermediary liability has moved from the dissection of processes to the analysis of their relationship with underlying law. Particular emphasis has herein been placed on the relevance of fundamental rights. The question of intermediary liability for users’ activities of copyright infringement, defamation, hate speech or child pornography has been reinterpreted as a quintessential question of fundamental rights clashes. The notion of a “fair balance” between competing fundamental rights has emerged as central to addressing such clashes in the relevant case law of Europe’s highest courts – the CJEU and the ECtHR. Although the amassing case law has begun to put some flesh on the bones of the once skeletal references to this “fair balance”, considerable gaps remain, while no general standard is discernible.

Based on the authors’ PhD projects, respectively on the harmonisation of European intermediary liability and the resolution of conflicts between human rights, this paper shall aim to bring some much-needed clarity to the debate by answering the following questions: where might the fair balance lie in intermediary liability cases and can notice-and-action measures help secure that balance? To this end, we will first provide legal theoretical insights on the precise meaning of the notion “fair balance”. We will argue that achieving a “fair balance” in intermediary liability cases requires a search for a viable compromise between all fundamental rights at stake, instead of a solution under which one right “trumps” the others. Having set the theoretical stage, we will then proceed to examine various notice-and-action mechanisms to determine whether or not they contribute to reaching the desired compromise. In doing so, we will differentiate between distinct situations, arguing – for instance – that notice-and-notice suffices in copyright cases, while notice-and-takedown is suitable for defamation cases and a no notice/automatic takedown obligation is appropriate for child pornography.

The slides are available below.

Bileta – Smet Angelopoulos

The full paper will be published later this year.