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Starting with September 2004 the news on IT law are available only in Romanian in the blog.

April 2004 

EU report takes Microsoft to task
A record fine imposed on Microsoft in Europe last month arose from the
longstanding nature of the software company's anticompetitive
practices, according to a massive report from European regulators. The
European Commission's 300-page document says the more than five-year
duration of those practices pushed the fine to 497 million euros--now
about $590 million--well above what Microsoft would have been charged
simply on the basis of its business practices. 'The amount of the fine
to be imposed on the basis of the gravity of the infringement should
therefore be increased by 50% to take account of its duration. On that
basis, the base amount of the fine is EUR 497,196,304,' the document

CA - Minister vows to fight music file swapping
Music downloaders may have a short honeymoon from potential
prosecution as Hélène Schérrèr, the new federal Heritage Minister has
promised to punish music file sharers. Officials at Heritage Canada,
in tandem with Industry Canada, will soon meet to draft legislation to
amend a loophole in the Copyright Act that permits music downloading.
In addition, the minister will push to have the federal government
ratify two international treaties that protect the ownership of
copyright materials. In a judgment last month, the Federal Court of
Canada ruled that swapping songs on the Internet for personal use does
not break the law.

 EU - Commission adopts rules for licensing of patents, know-how
and software copyright
The European Commission has adopted new rules for applying competition
policy to the licensing of patents, know-how and software copyright.
see also Commission finalises modernisation of the EU antitrust
enforcement rules.

. EU - Copyright: the Commission advocates European legislation on
the governance of collecting societies
Community legislation on the collective management of rights, and
particularly on the governance of collecting societies, would be
highly desirable. This is one of the main conclusions arrived at in a
Communication COM(2004) 261 by the European Commission following an
in-depth analysis of the issues surrounding the management of
copyright and related rights. Moreover, the Commission is immediately
launching a further consultation exercise on what such legislation
might consist of. The Commission asks all interested parties to submit
any additional comments before 21 June 2004. The Communication also
concludes that interoperability and acceptance by all stakeholders,
including consumers, of Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems is a
pre-condition for their emergence. Lastly, the Communication sets out
several options for improving the situation regarding the development
of Community-wide licensing for the exploitation of rights.

US - Hollywood's new lesson for campus file swappers
by Stefanie Olsen. Hollywood is poised to up the ante in its war
against file swappers, with new technology that could make it easier
to remove suspected pirates from campus networks. Movie studios,
record labels and technology companies have been testing the system
for months, according to sources familiar with the project. Known as
the Automated Copyright Notice System (ACNS), the technology promises
to make copyright enforcement easier on peer-to-peer networks, saving
schools and Internet service providers (ISPs) time and money. ACNS
allows them to automatically restrict or cut off Internet access for
alleged infringers on notice from a record label or movie studio. For
example, universities using ACNS could instantly send notices of
copyright infringement to students by e-mail and restrict their
network access until they have removed the file.

 Google is watching you
Once it was a plucky upstart, but now the multi-billion-dollar firm is
charged with invading our privacy. 'Google's Email raises Privacy
Fears,' declared the Indian Express, a headline echoed around this
world after the company announced it is to offer a free email service
called Gmail. On a technological level, Gmail (which will start as a
pilot project) is far superior to similar services currently offered
by the likes of Yahoo and Microsoft. The initial analysis was that
Google had continued its tradition of besting the competition. And
then people read the small print. There, the company revealed it would
be employing technology that would search through the contents of its
users' emails, thereby enabling it to place related adverts alongside
those emails. If, for example, a user mentioned DVDs in the text of
his or her email, then Google could attach an advert for a company
selling cut-price DVDs. see also: Privacy International files
complaint about Google's Gmail service (PI). Privacy International has
filed a complaint asking the privacy and data protection commissions
in France,Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Spain, Czech
Republic, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Portugal, Poland,
Austria,Australia and Canada along with the European Commission and
the EU Commissioners internal Article 29 Data Protection Working Group
to investigate the serious privacy problems that Google's Gmail
service poses.
 Blasting Gmail as a horrific intrusion into Internet users' privacy, a
California state senator has introduced
legislation to block Google's free email service. State Senator Liz
Figueroa, a Democrat, said that it should be illegal for a company to
scan the text of its customers' email correspondence and display
relevant advertising - even if customers explicitly agree to the
practice in exchange for a gigabyte of storage.  The Fuss About Gmail
and Privacy: Nine Reasons Why It's Bogus (Tim O'Reilly).

US - SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT: spam labelled by FTC
Spam is not illegal in US federal law. But from 19th May, any spam
that contains sexually oriented material must include the warning
"SEXUALLY-EXPLICIT: " in the subject line or US spammers face fines
for violations of federal law. The CAN-SPAM Act, passed in 2003,
outlaws fraudulent e-mail and requires marketers to include an
unsubscribe option; but it continues to allow legitimate, albeit
unsolicited, commercial e-mail. The Act also directed the Federal
Trade Commission to adopt a rule requiring a mark or notice to be
included in spam that contains sexually oriented material. The purpose
of the notice is to inform recipients that a spam message contains
sexually oriented material and to make it easier to filter out
messages they do not wish to receive.

Study: File-Sharing No Threat to Music Sales
Internet music piracy has no negative effect on legitimate music
sales, according to a study by two university researchers, Felix
Oberholzer-Gee of Harvard Business School and Koleman Strumpf of
University of North Carolina, which contradicts the music industry's
assertion that the illegal downloading of music online is taking a big
bite out of its bottom line. Songs that were heavily downloaded showed
no measurable drop in sales, the researchers found after tracking
sales of 680 albums over the course of 17 weeks in the second half of
2002. Matching that data with activity on the OpenNap file-sharing
network, they concluded that file sharing actually increases CD sales
for hot albums that sell more than 600,000 copies. For every 150
downloads of a song from those albums, sales increase by a copy, the
researchers found.

Researchers Join Forces to Expose Net Censorship
An international team of academics from the Berkman Center for
Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, the University of
Cambridge, and the University of Toronto has begun monitoring
worldwide Internet censorship and surveillance. The Open Net
Initiative (ONI) was formed in 2004 with support from the Soros
Foundation's Open Society Institute.

US - Music industry sues 477 more computer users
The recording industry sued 477 more computer users, including dozens
of college students at schools in 11 states, accusing them of
illegally sharing music across the Internet. The Recording Industry
Association of America, the trade group for the largest labels,
praised efforts by colleges and universities to use technology and
school policies to crack down on music piracy on their own computer
networks. But it said the most egregious offenders on campus deserved
to be sued.

US - The Patent Busting Project
Every year numerous illegitimate patent applications make their way
through the United States patent examination process without adequate
review. The problem is particularly acute in the software and Internet
fields where the history of prior inventions (often called "prior
art") is widely distributed and poorly documented. As a result, we
have seen patents asserted on such simple technologies as: one-click
online shopping, the hyperlink and paying with a credit card online.
EFF is launching a Patent Busting Project to take on illegitimate
patents that suppress non-commercial and small business innovation or
limit free expression online. The Project has two components: A.
Documenting the Damage and B. Challenging The Patents. Once it has
identified some of the worst offenders, EFF will begin filing
challenges to each in the form of a "re-examination request" to the
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

EU - European anti-spam laws lack bite
European laws on spam are 'meaningless' finds a study by Dutch
academics. Researchers at the University of Amsterdam said the laws
will provide no safeguard against spam because most of it originates
outside the EU's borders. Only a co-ordinated international effort
will make a difference to the amount of spam being sent they warn. The
authors of the study say the European laws also lack key clauses that
would make them more useful to end users.

March  2004


Internet & signes distinctifs : les apports de la jurisprudence de ces
deux dernières années - FR
Frédéric GLAIZE - 27/02/2004

US - FTC Fines COPPA Violators
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) collected its largest fine to date
for a privacy violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection
Act (COPPA) when UMG Recordings agreed to pay $400,000 to settle civil
charges brought by the watchdog agency. In a separate civil
settlement, Bonzi Software, distributor of the BonziBuddy software,
agreed to pay $75,000 in the first COPPA case to challenge the
information collection practices of an online service in connection
with a software product. Previous COPPA cases have addressed only Web
site operators' information collection practices. The FTC alleged the
two firms knowingly collecting personal information from children
online without first obtaining parental consent. In addition to the
fines, the settlements prohibit future COPPA violations, require that
the companies delete any information collected in violation of COPPA,
and contain certain record-keeping requirements to allow the FTC to
monitor the companies' future compliance.
A French perspective on ... Misleading advertising campaigns for Internet
Advertising campaigns are designed to arouse customer's interest. They are
hardly compatible with providing full and objective information to the
consumer so that he or she can make an informed choice. The dangers of
advertising are especially acute when it comes to subscribing to a service
such as Internet access. In an effort to protect consumers and in
application of article L121-1 of the French Consumer Protection Code,
misleading advertising is a criminal offence. Whilst analysing the general
conditions required for an advert to be considered misleading under French
law, the author gives consideration to the approach adopted by the French
courts in their definition of the notions of "free" and "unlimited" internet
Christine RIEFA - 12/03/2004

Premier accord entre un prestataire Internet et des sociétés de gestion
collective pour la diffusion de contenus culturels
Juriscom.net, Iliana Boubekeur - 12/03/2004
L'absence de déclaration d'un site internet à la CNIL peut être sanctionnée
Foruminternet.org - 05/03/2004
CANned by SPAM
The first major industry lawsuits under the CAN-SPAM act have been
filed.  AOL, Microsoft, Earthlink, and Yahoo! are suing hundreds of
individuals for sending unsolicited email to their customers
EU - Position Paper on SPAM
The American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union (AmCham EU)
welcomes and supports the increased political attention being given to
the issue of spam by the European Commission and EU Member States.
This reflects a more global concern that will no doubt be discussed at
the forthcoming Organization for Economic Cooperation and development
(OECD) conference. AmCham EU would like to provide some
recommendations to guide the Commission's and Member States' future
endeavours in this area. We highlight six areas in particular
definition, transposition, application, enforcement, remedies and
technical measures.
EU - Commission imposes conduct remedies and a fine on Microsoft
The European Commission has concluded, after a five-year
investigation, that Microsoft Corporation broke European Union
competition law by leveraging its near monopoly in the market for PC
operating systems (OS) onto the markets for work group server
operating systems(1) and for media players(2). Because the illegal
behaviour is still ongoing, the Commission has ordered Microsoft to
disclose to competitors, within 120 days, the interfaces(3) required
for their products to be able to 'talk' with the ubiquitous Windows
OS. Microsoft is also required, within 90 days, to offer a version of
its Windows OS without Windows Media Player to PC manufacturers (or
when selling directly to end users). In addition, Microsoft is fined EUR
497 million for abusing its market power in the EU.
JN - Court denies copyright for Web news headlines
A damages suit filed by the Tokyo head office of the Yomiuri Shimbun
against an Internet service firm that used the newspaper's headlines
without permission was rejected in the Tokyo District Court. Denying
the newspaper's demand that the Internet firm stop using the headlines
and pay damages of 68 million yen, the court ruled that using Internet
headlines without permission did not violate copyright. 'Using
headlines that are open to the public on the Internet without
authorization does not constitute a copyright violation,' the judge
DE - German court: Pop-ups need permission
A European court has issued a preliminary injunction against Claria -
formerly known as Gator - that prohibits the company's pop-up and pop-
under ads from appearing over a German rental car Web site without the
agency's permission. The injunction, by plaintiff Hertz
Autovermietung, the German division of Hertz, is the latest victory
for companies that oppose the unauthorized use of pop-ups on their
sites. The Court of First Instance in Cologne, Germany, ruled March 12
that Claria had violated sections of a German law against unfair
WTO - US online gambling policy unlawful
The World Trade Organization, in its first decision on an Internet-
related dispute, has ignited a political, cultural and legal tinderbox
by ruling that the United States policy prohibiting online gambling
violates international trade law. The ruling, issued by a WTO panel,
is being hailed by operators of online casinos based overseas as a
major victory that could force America to liberalize laws outlawing
their business. But the Bush administration vowed to appeal the
decision, and several members of Congress said they would rather have
an international trade war or withdraw from future rounds of the WTO
than have American social policy dictated from abroad.

CoE - EU ratifies Convention on notifying new national rules for
on-line services
The EU has signed Council of Europe Convention 180, establishing an
international mechanism for the prior notification of national rules
on online services, so that regulations adopted in one country do not
affect services in others without consultation. This mechanism is
based on the EU system of legislative transparency introduced by the
'Notifications' Directive 98/34/EC. The Convention's aim is to enhance
the transparency and coherence of national rules on information
society services as far as possible, since these services are by
definition often provided across borders.
DE - May access providers be required to ban foreign websites?
by Pascal H. Schumacher. On February 6th 2002, the North Rhine-
Westphalian district government asked the local access providers to
block the access to two American websites containing racist and anti-
Semitic information. These blocking decrees have triggered off a
controversy about the providers' legal responsibility in general and
especially the access providers' responsibility for web content. The
various aspects of this controversial argument will be portrayed,
discussed and evaluated along with the current problems.
The music industry - Fightback or death-rattle?
The recording industry has launched a wave of lawsuits outside America
in a bid to curb illegal file-sharing on the internet, which has
contributed to a steep decline in music sales. The industry is cutting
costs, consolidating and finally getting to grips with legal online
European Internet Coregulation Network agrees action plan
The first meeting of the European Internet Coregulation Network, held
in Paris, was attended by more than 17 representatives from 8 European
organisations. The meeting was intended to set the priorities for 2004
of this newly formed network. In the short term, the network will, by
June 2004, issue a "Policy statement" to the European institutions,
concerning the prevention of children's exposure to harmful content
(including violent and pornographic content) on the internet. This
will highlight the main principles of the Network's policy on child
protection on the internet. Two working groups were launched: child
protection and mobile phone, led by the Oxford Internet Institute; and
Internet governance, in the perspective of the WSIS, led by Forum des
Droits sur l'Internet.

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