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Necessary reading for Slawyers 

This just posted on Michael Geist’s Blog

The Hill Times reports this week (issue still not online) that the Conservative government will introduce copyright reform legislation this spring provided that there is no election. The paper points to two main changes from the Liberals Bill C-60 – tougher anti-circumvention legislation (ie. DMCA-style laws that ban devices that can be used to circumvent as well as provisions that block all circumvention subject to the odd exception) and an educational exception that will provide for free access to web-based materials.

http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/1875/125/

 

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Posted in: Substantive Law

Leadership From MIT

Michael Geist reports that MIT Libraries has cancelled a subscription to a product that required them to download and apply a DRM program. One professor pointed out that the publisher was adamant about protecting ‘its’ IP, but in fact the content of the database, like many in the legal world, consists of research produced at universities and handed over for free. . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

News Update on the Joyce Estate Copyright Litigation

Stanford Law School yesterday announced a settlement in the litigation over unpublished materials by the Joyce Family that we discussed last year.

The case resulted in a settlement not in the sort of authoritative court ruling that many had hoped for.

The work that had been cut from the book on Lucia Joyce will be published here – but it’s not live yet.

But at least one of the world’s most aggressive copyright plaintiffs has been pushed back somewhat.

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Posted in: Substantive Law

Federal Court Ruling From Canberra Rattles Search Engine Companies

A significant court decision on Monday in the case of Universal Music against a company that provided search software to locate MP3 files – an earlier single judge ruling was upheld by the full court.

As the Trib describes it:

Electronic Frontiers Australia, a nonprofit national Internet users’ group, said the decision would “create significant uncertainty for Internet publishers from Google to your average Internet user who posts on a message board.”

“If Google’s search engine links to material which infringes on copyright and this material was accessed by Australians, then there is potential for legal action,” Dale Clapperton, chairman

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Posted in: Substantive Law

Copyright and the Draftsperson

The latest issue of the New York Law Journal has an interesting piece on how the law of copyright applies to contracts and other documents drafted within a law firm.

Does contract drafting reach the necessary level of originality? I would have thought that these contracts are essentially collaborative works, given the extent to which one rarely sees someone starting with a blank sheet of paper. Novel clauses keep getting borrowed and reappearing in future contracts.

Does it matter what the status is of the lawyer drafting the contracts? Associates are employees and drafting is within the scope of their

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Posted in: Substantive Law

Droit D’auteur en Concurrence: Euro-Excellence C. Kraft

Décidément, l’hiver va être chaud à Ottawa car après les affaires Dell et Rogers, qui seront entendues par la Cour suprême respectivement le 13 et 14 décembre 2006 (voir le dernier billet à ce sujet), voici que concernant l’affaire Euro-excellence c. Kraft Canada, que nous avons déjà également évoquée, les auditions sont prévues, provisoirement du moins, pour le 16 janvier 2007. On peut aussi y voir que ce mercredi 06 septembre, l’appelante a déposé son mémoire, mémoire que voici. Merci aux avocats du dossier, Pierre-Emmanuel Moyse (également Wainwright Fellow à la Faculté de droit . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Crown Copyright Outrage

Tomorrow’s Guardian has an amazing story about a British Government’s proposal to charge for access to legal information, when value has been added to the raw text.

A few juicy quotes:

Firstly, an astounding Crown copyright notice greets the reader: “The Statute Law Database and the material on the SLD website are subject to Crown copyright protection. The Crown copyright waiver that applies to published legislation generally does not apply to SLD because it is a value-added product. Any reuse of material from SLD will be the subject of separate and specific licensing arrangements. No such arrangements have yet been

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Posted in: Substantive Law

Restrictions on Using Public Domain Materials

Hypothetical: A piece of sheet music is published in the United States in 1911; as such, the work is in the public domain. A published version of the sheet music is held by ABC Library in the Mid-Western US, and they appear to be the only source for the music (other copies have disappeared or have been lost over time or are sitting in someone’s attic and not easily available). You want a copy of the public domain music but ABC Library insists you sign an agreement to not further reproduce or digitize the sheet music (their reason apparently . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law

Constitutional Court Decision on Internet Copyright

Since the Journal officiel website isn’t the easiest to navigate, here is a link to the text of the Constitutional Court’s Décision n° 2006-540 DC du 27 juillet 2006 (Loi relative au droit d’auteur et aux droits voisins dans la société de l’information).

The court upheld new laws on Internet copyright, despite criticising parts of the legislation relating to online music stores. The law was originally aimed at forcing online stores such as Apple’s iTunes to allow songs bought from its store to be played on devices that work with other music stores. The blogosphere has been in full spate, . . . [more]

Posted in: Substantive Law