16 April 2011

Scarlet vs SABAM: Gone With The Wind?


Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Interiorsphoto © 2009 jaci Lopes dos Santos | more info (via: Wylio)

In Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone with the Wind, the novel’s protagonist, Scarlett O’Hara wonders to herself if her home on a plantation called “Tara” symbolising the pre-civil war South is still standing, or if it was “also gone with the wind”.

I must say that I had similar thoughts when I read the opinion of Advocate general Cruz Villalón in the case Scarlet vs SABAM.
I bet you want to know why?

Good, before I share them with you, however, I will present you with the

Background

In 2004 the Société belge des auteurs compositeurs et éditeurs (SABAM) applied for interim relief against the Belgian ISP Scarlet on the ground that Scarlet’s users had shared musical works contained in SABAM’s repertoire without SABAM’s permission, thereby infringing the copyright in the works.
In 2007 the Brussels Tribunal of First Instance ruled that Scarlet was under an obligation both to block the accounts of its users and to implement a mechanism to filter out infringing content. According to this decision, Scarlet was obliged to make it impossible for its customers to send or receive a P2P file that would include works from SABAM, and faced fines of €2,500 a day if it failed to comply within six months.

In 2008 the Tribunal of First Instance in Brussels decided, on an application for “absolute impossibility of compliance” filed by Scarlet against its decision of 2007, that the Tribunal had been badly informed when it decided that appropriate filtering technologies were available on the market. Scarlet had argued that it was technically impossible or unreasonably expensive to block the P2P traffic and that the solution developed by Audible Magic, a filter mechanism, did not work. Additional technical options were considered and implemented but none of them led to a satisfactory solution.
The Tribunal declared itself not competent to deal with the question as to whether filtering can be made compulsory for ISP and referred the case to the Brussels Court of Appeals.

The Court of Appeals sought a ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union on whether EU law and, in particular, the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights, permit a national court to order an ISP to install a system for filtering and blocking electronic communications.

Advocate General’s opinion

Advocate General Cruz Villalón considers that a court order to install a system to

1. filter all data communications passing via Scarlet’s network, in order to detect data which involve a copyright infringement and
2. block communications which actually involve copyright infringement, either at the point at which they are requested or at the point at which they are sent

constitutes a general preventive obligation that would apply in abstracto without determining whether there had been an actual infringement of an intellectual property right or even that an imminent infringement was likely.

This obligation, says the Advocate General, would also delegate the legal and economic responsibility for combating illegal downloading of pirated works to the ISP.

In the light of the above, Cruz Villalón considers that the installation of that filtering and blocking system is a restriction on the right to privacy of communications and the right to protection of personal data, both of which are rights protected under the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Equally important, the deployment of such a system would restrict freedom of information, which is also protected by the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

To say it with Cruz Villalón’s own words: “As far as we can tell, no system of filtering and blocking seems to guarantee, in a manner that is consistent with the requirements of Articles 11 and 52, paragraph 1, of the Charter, that it will block only content specifically identifiable as illicit”.

Consequently, the Advocate General proposes that the Court of Justice should declare that EU law precludes a national court from making an order that an ISP installs such a filtering system.

This is not just a wind, no, it is a real bomb blast!

Nuclear Blast 1945photo © 2005 Thomas Williams | more info (via: Wylio)

 

Consequences

As you might know, the Court of the European Union follows Advocate General’s opinion in about 80 percent of its decisions.
This means there is more than just a fair chance that the Court rules against the requested filtering system.

In fact it is not a simple ruling that we need.
We need the Court to sweep the adversaries of fundamental human rights away and make them “gone with the wind”!

 

Did you like this article? If yes, do not forget to share your thoughts with me!

23 February 2010

Is the Austrian gambling monopoly coming to an end?


Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

photo © 2010 Bonnie Craven Francis | more info (via: Wylio)

The subject matter of this post is not necessarily related to Information Technology or Intellectual Property. Arguably, it could be deemed to be somewhere in the orbit of regulatory matters, but…”wait a moment” – might some of you ask – “what is the name of this guy’s blog again?”, and that is true – it reads “From Vegas To Legal”! So, in recognition of my blog’s name, I consider the time ripe to risk a dive into gambling’s deep waters.

In the instant case of criminal proceedings against Ernst Engelmann that was filed with the Regional Criminal Court in Linz, Austria, said court referred three questions to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and asked the latter for a preliminary ruling. In particular, the court in Linz wanted to know whether

– Article 43 EC derogates a national provision mandating that only corporations established in a member state may there operate games of chance in casinos, thereby necessitating the establishment or acquisition of a corporation in that member state?

– Articles 43 and 49 EC derogate a national monopoly on games of chance in casinos, if the member state  in question maintains an inconsistent policy to limit gaming, inasmuch as national licensed organisers encourage participation in gaming – such as public sports betting and lotteries – and advertise such gaming, for instance, on TV?

– Articles 43 and 49 EC derogate a national provision under which a member state may exclude Community competitors (that do not belong to that member state) from a tender where a license to organise games of chance in casinos are granted.

In his today delivered opinion on the above questions, Advocate General Jan Mazak starts with a very good introduction into the federal gambling law of Austria, followed by a dissection of the same. From my perspective it is a must-read for all those interested in the matter.

Having come to the first question referred to the ECJ, the Advocate General opines that the Austrian legislation is incompatible with the freedom of establishment to the extent it reserves the operation of games of chance in casinos exclusively to corporations which have their seat in Austria. Companies registered in other member states of the European Union thus suffer a direct discrimination as they are excluded from the license grant to operate a casino in Austria. Such discrimination would be justifiable only if it grounded on deliberations with respect to public policy, public security or public health and a genuine and sufficiently serious threat affecting a fundamental interest of society existed. In Mr Mazak’s view the latter condition was not satisfied since Austrian authorities would not face a “genuine and sufficiently serious threat affecting a fundamental interest of society”, if the had to administer and supervise gaming operators which reside in other member states. Unfortunately, the Advocate General remained silent as to whether the operation of games of chance in casino should be reserved solely to corporations.

With regard to the second question, the Advocate General states that encouraging of participants in games of chance and advertising undertaken by operators does not necessarily mean that the national policy of limiting games of chance lacks consistency. Moreover, the Advocate General is of the opinion that it is the referring court to determine whether the said advertising is consistent with the objectives of the member state, since, among the various objectives which it pursues, the Austrian legislation seeks to combat fraud and criminality in the games of chance sector, by orienting demand for gaming towards an offer controlled and supervised by the State. Such determination, however, should be limited only to a sector where there is a gaming monopoly which would develop disproportionate and inconsistent advertising.

As to the third question, the Advocate General finds that the exclusion of non-residential Community competitors contradicts the freedom to provide services. Furthermore, and – in the absence of a genuine and sufficiently serious threat affecting a fundamental interest of society – the instant case’s restriction is discriminatory and unjustifiable on the grounds of public policy, public security or public health.

Put it all together, this Advocate General’s opinion has the potential to cause a ruling that would strengthen the principles framing the European Union. By the same token, it could deprive member state of the few sinecures they still possess in the realm of, say, gambling.

As regards the Austrian gambling monopoly, I personally believe that it will survive a ruling (almost) untouched.

 

Did you find this article informative, helpful or entertaining? If yes, do not forget to share it by pressing one of below buttons or to otherwise tell your friends about it!

25 September 2009

Google’s AdWords do not infringe trade marks?


Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Warning: Illegal string offset 'status_txt' in /home/reguligc/public_html/reguligence.biz/wp-content/plugins/share-and-follow/share-and-follow.php on line 1243

Foto0016photo © 2007 Stefan | more info (via: Wylio)

Google has been no stranger to legal controversy in recent years. One of the hotly contested issues courts are currently debating involves the legality of Google AdWords, Google’s lucrative advertising program that is the source of nearly half of its revenue. The AdWords program allows advertisers to purchase words or phrases related to their businesses that will bring up their websites under “sponsored links” when those keywords are typed into Google’s search engine.

The issue at the center of the controversy is whether Google can legally sell and advertise those words which are trademarked terms. For businesses looking to protect their trade marks, Google’s practice of selling and advertising trademarked terms has raised questions as to its liability for trade mark infringement.
The French Cour de Cassation has recently made a referral to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) with questions concerning the use of Google AdWords. These issues arose out of litigation brought against Google by trade mark owners, including Louis Vuitton, who object to the reservation by Google customers of search keywords matching their registered trade marks.

In his Opinion, Advocate General Poiares Maduro suggests that Google has not committed a trade mark infringement by allowing advertisers to select, in AdWords, keywords corresponding to trade marks.

The Advocate General further recalls that trade mark rights cannot be construed as classical property rights enabling the trade mark owner to exclude any other use. Accordingly, internet users’ access to information concerning the trade mark should not be limited to or by the trade mark owner even if it involves a trade mark which has a reputation.

Advocate General’s opinions are not binding on the ECJ, though the Court follws them in about 80% of all cases.

In my personal view this Advocate General’s opinion is very problematic for trade mark proprietors as, given a coresponding judgment of the Court, it will weaken proprietors’ position and ease springboard marketers and imitators to exploit the goodwill and reputation arising out of the trade marks in question.