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May 16, 2007

Intellectual Property Principles for Australian Government agencies

What happens to intellectual property (IP) acquired by the Australian Government through its many activities in science, health, education, public infrastructure, information technology, defence and arts and culture?

Most government contracts stipulate that IP created under the contract belongs to the Crown. Is there a list of such rights? Can the public have access to such IP?

Whilst it does not answer these questions specifically, the Statement of IP Principles (pdf) (published by the Attorney-General's Department) provides a framework for
effective management of IP by Australian Government agencies. It identifies a range of issues relevant to effective management of IP,
including procurement, record keeping, industry development and broader
innovation policy, and public access.

All Australian Government agencies which are subject to the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 must comply with the requirements of the Statement of IP Principles by 1 July 2008.

A guidebook, the IP Better Practice Manual, will provide agencies with up-to-date information on implementing the Statement, and is expected to be published in late 2007.

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Posted 16th May 2007 by David Jacobson in Legal

May 2, 2007

What is copyright fair dealing on the internet?

In Telstra Corporation Pty Limited v Premier
Media Group Pty Limited
[2007] FCA 568, the Federal Court refused to grant Telstra (which had an exclusive license from the NRL to show NRL matches on the internet) an injunction against FoxSports News using NRL match highlights audio-visual footage on its website.

The interim hearing focussed on whether the use was fair dealing under s 103B of the Copyright Act.

There was no dispute that the footage used in each Fox
Sports news report on each NRL match represented a substantial part of whatever
copyright might subsist in the total footage of an individual match. FoxSports said, however, that the relevant footage was a fair dealing with an
audiovisual item for the purpose of or associated with the reporting of news by
means of a communication, and hence within s 103B(1)(b).

The length of each of the footage in relation to each match covers a
range of times but the longest were over two minutes of footage from
the match.

Judge Allsop said:

31 The evidence reveals that in other media, that is free to air television
and pay television, there has been over the years, the use of audio visual
footage of a similar nature to the impugned program. Examples include past and
present programs, such as Channel 10’s "Sports Tonight", SBS’s
"World Sport" and "World Game", Channel 9’s "AFL Footy Show" and Channel
7’s "Sportsworld" and "Sportswatch".

32 Similarly, pay television had broadcast news services that include
sporting news, for instance, "SKY News". The respondents submitted that it is
an integral part of free to air or pay television news services to report on
events by showing relevant video footage of a particular sport, such as rugby
league.  Just as events are covered in written match descriptions in print
media.  Fox Sports News is a species of that form of sporting news which has for
many years been shown on Australian television, and I accept those submissions.

33 It is unnecessary to compare minutely the length of time taken in these
examples of other media, given the respondents’ evidence as to the
impugned broadcasts.  It may be, and I do not make a finding about this now,
that even by these standards, that is the standards of pay television and free
to air television, it will be found, that the respondents have, to put it
bluntly, been a little greedy in what they have taken for the dealing to be fair
as well as newsworthy...

36 I accept that there will be a substantial issue on a final hearing as to
the operation of the internet and mobile phones and telephony, including the
nature and character of their structure, and how the public use them.  This will
be important in the assessment of fairness in the fair dealing, in the use of
audio-visual footage and in the delivery of news.  At an interlocutory level,
however, I am simply not persuaded that there is a case to distinguish delivery
of such programs on the internet and telephony from free-to-air and pay
television, bearing in mind the clear conduct of Telstra in negotiating the AFL
bargain in December 2005.

UPDATE 22 May: Dispute settled

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Posted 2nd May 2007 by David Jacobson in Legal

April 27, 2007

e-Research conference

The QUT e-Research project will hold a Legal Framework for e-Research Conference from 11th-12th July on Queensland's Gold Coast.

conference aims to analyse the legal framework necessary to ensure the
effective take up of e-Research techniques in Australia. The conference
program will address issues, including:

  • Research contracts
  • Data sharing
  • Patent licensing
  • Privacy

More information

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Posted 27th April 2007 by David Jacobson in Legal

April 2, 2007

Open content licensing and creative commons

The QUT Creative Commons and Open Content Licensing conference in January 2005 brought together leading thinkers on the internet, law and the importance of open content licensing in the digital age. (see my posts on Day 1 and Day 2 and video streams of the conference).

Drawing on the material presented Sydney University Press has now published Open Content Licensing: Cultivating the Creative Commons, edited by conference convenor Professor Brian Fitzgerald.

It is an excellent resource not just on legal issues but also for case studies on projects as disparate as art, education and gaming.

Both the hardcopy and the electronic version of the book have been published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivatives licence.

A PDF of the entire work can be downloaded for free from the QUT e-Prints Archive. Individual chapters can be downloaded here.

via The House of Commons.

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Posted 2nd April 2007 by David Jacobson in Legal, Web/Tech

April 1, 2007

Australian online legal services

I attended Simon Lewis' Sinch Online Legal Services Conference 2007 last Thursday.

My overall impression is that there are a number of Australian lawyers actively using the web to deliver their services, whether to consumers, businesses, governments or to other lawyers and accountants. Some are at an early stage while others are well advanced.

There was vibrant discussion about business models and billing methods as well as technology.

Presenters and case studies discussed included:

Thank you Simon for organising this forum.

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Posted 1st April 2007 by David Jacobson in Legal, Web/Tech

March 25, 2007

Geographical indications: protected names in Australia

Geographical Indication (GI) is an official description of a region to protect the reputation and name of a product of that region.

In Australia the only geographic indications are for an
Australian wine zone, region or sub-region. GI is
similar to the Appellation naming system used in Europe. There are no Australian geographic indications currently for food products.

GIs are determined by the Geographical Indications Committee, a statutory authority of the Australian Wine and Brandy Council (AWBC), and listed on the Register of Protected Names, which is maintained by the AWBC.

The GI system was introduced in 1993 to allow Australia to fulfil
its Agreements with the European Community on Trade in Wine and the
Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

The Register therefore contains geographical indications in relation to wines manufactured in an agreement country and the conditions (if any) applicable to those indications (eg Champagne,
as well as geographic indications in relation to wines manufactured in Australia (Margaret River, Barossa Valley).

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Posted 25th March 2007 by David Jacobson in Legal

March 24, 2007

Viacom sues YouTube and Google

The biggest news in copyright on the internet is Viacom v YouTube and Google (pdf copy of complaint via Lessig).

For a less serious perspective here's Jon Stewart's The Daily Show and Demetri Martin. (Note that I've linked to the Comedy Central's lawful version which includes a short lawful ad at the beginning...worth sitting through).

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Posted 24th March 2007 by David Jacobson in Legal, Web/Tech

March 20, 2007

International Trade Mark Information: ROMARIN database

The ROMARIN database contains information regarding all
international marks recorded under the Madrid Agreement Concerning the
International Registration of Marks and the Protocol Relating to that
, that are currently in force in the International Register.

An online
version of ROMARIN is updated daily and free

ROMARIN stands for "Read-Only-Memory of Madrid Active  Registry INformation".

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Posted 20th March 2007 by David Jacobson in Legal

March 8, 2007

Copyright, the internet and the entertainment industry

I attended a terrific public address last night by Professor Terry Fisher (Harvard University) at the State Library organised by QUT's IP: KCE research group.

In 1 hour Fisher took us on a tour of copyright issues in the enertainment industry from the past, how they are affected today by the internet and he then suggested some alternative futures.

What made his presentation so effective was his use of an economic framework, not just a legal one, starting with consumption and production and reference to statistics of what was actually happening.

Although he used charts and only one video (the "Grey movie") his visual presentation was based on a mindmap (using Freemind) with links to charts on powerpoint and keynote.

He gave 4 possible futures (and suggested there might be a combination of one or all of them):
1. Strengthen existing IP rights
2. Reinforce self-help strategies
3. An alternative compensation system.(the most radical)
4. A renewed entertainment ecology.

He argued that the existing entertainment giants prefer 1 and 2. He is in favour of 3 and if not 3, then 4.

Number 3 (a new compensation system) proposes that there be no copyright for digital content but that there be a new tax to pay creators of content including a tax of $5 a month per user of broadband internet services. The money would be distributed based on the frequency of consumption (ie watching/listening) not by downloads. Any counting technology would need to overcome privacy issues and manipulation.

His next best alternative is 4, a whole new framework which compensates creators fairly but makes digital content freely available by allowing new business models.

He gave an example of a new project in which he has an interest: Noank Media.

Summary: a whirlwind 1 hour tour of the issues plus an insight into possible futures.

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Posted 8th March 2007 by David Jacobson in Legal, Web/Tech

March 6, 2007

Website take down notices

Peter Black at Freedom to Differ has a good analysis of take down notices under Reg 20J of the Copyright Regulations as used by the NSW Minerals Council against a critical web site.

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Posted 6th March 2007 by David Jacobson in Legal, Web/Tech
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