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Showing posts from 2007

Canadian songwriters propose a new right to equitable remuneration for music file sharing

The proposal in a nutshell:
- a new right limited to activities that take place without motive of financial gain;
- this new right should make it legal to "share music between two or more parties, whether over Peer to Peer networks, wireless networks, email, CD, DVD, hard drives etc";
- it would be distinct from private copying;
- in exchange, Creators and rights holders would be entitled to receive a monthly license fee from each internet and wireless account in Canada (proposed: $5.00 per internet subscription, per month)
- this would make Technical Protection Measures obsolete, but not Rights Management Information (RMI) protection "since RMIs will assist in the identification of files and the attribution of rights without posing any problems for consumers".

Non-Horizontal Merger Guidelines adopted

These 26-page Guidelines apply to mergers between companies either active each at a different level of the supply chain (vertical mergers) or in complementary or otherwise related markets (conglomerate mergers). As with vertical restraints and other business practices, the Commission is willing to recognize that such mergers could engender efficiency gains. Among the anticompetitive effects, the possibility that competing companies are denied access to an inportant supplier or face increased prices for this inputs and this results in higher prices for consumers (and less innovative products?).
As in other areas of EU competition law, the Guidelines foresee "save harbours", that is levels of market share and concentration below which anticompetive concern are unlikely.
Yet another example of the "more economic approach", it seems.

Bekämpfung von Preismissbrauch in der Energiewirtschaft: Gesetz in Deutschland verabschiedet

Der Deutsche Bundestag hat am 15.11.2007 das „Gesetz zur Bekämpfung von Preismissbrauch im Bereich der Energieversorgung und des Lebensmittelhandels“ (s. den Gesetzesentwurf) verabschiedet. Der neu geschaffene § 29 GWB, der allerdings bis 2012 befristet ist, soll es den Kartellbehörden erleichtern, Preise von Elektrizität und Gas zu untersagen, welche die Kosten unangemessen überschreiten oder erheblich höher sind als die Preise von Vergleichsunternehmen.
S. hinzu das kritische Sondergutachten der Monopolkommission.

Comcast against peer-to-peer: consumers complain to the FCC

Consumers groups have filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission against Comcast, the US number two provider of high-speed Internet access . They ask the FCC to enforce its policy principles on network neutrality by requiring Comcast to stop secretely degrading peer-to-peer applications such as BitTorrent.

Online games protected as films?

A Study by the European Audiovisual Observatory deals (also) with this issue. It is beyond doubt that larger-scale computer games like War of Warcraft create the impression of a moving image. If they are the result of an individual creation process, they could be protected as films, the Study affirms.

Office of Fair Trading: revised guidance on the 'markets of insufficient importance' exception

Crucial, according to the guidance issued by the OFT, is the expected impact of the transaction on consumer welfare. This is established according to three main elements: market size, magnitude of competition lost by the merger, and the likely duration of that loss.
Market size is the sum of all suppliers' annual turnover in the UK in that affected market; where a merger results in several affected markets, the relevant figure will be the aggregate size of all such markets. In case of rapid market growth or decline, this will be taken into account in calculating future market size and importance. "Below the £10 million market size threshold, the OFT would generally consider the market to be of insufficient importance to justify a reference", subject to some caveats:
- very high market concentration and low entry prospects
- evidence of coordination
- the case raises novel issues
- "vulnerable" consumers would suffer a substantial proportion of the likely detriment.

Revision of Italian Copyright Law: Have Your Say (but Be Quick)!

Copyright law has become a hot issue, subject to vigorous pressures by well-organised groups, as the 2006 approval of the new French Droit d'auteur has once again shown. But copyright issues are increasingly important also to ordinary citizens, who might want to express their views. The Commissions for the Revision of Italian Copyright Law are apparently more than willing to listen to what all interested parties have to say about the copyright rules they would wish for. The only problem is that the time to do this -at least online, in a transparent way - is much too short, only one week (15-22 November).

Monopolkommission: Sondergutachten zum Energiesektor

Mit dem Titel „Strom und Gas 2007: Wettbewerbsdefizite und zögerliche Regulierung“ (283 S.).
Wichtigste Ergebnisse, laut Pressemitteilung. Kein funktionsfähiger Wettbewerb auf den Märkten der leitungsgebundenen Energieversorgung in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Die Monopolkommission empfiehlt daher die Senkung insbesondere der strukturellen Marktzutrittsschranken und stellt ein Maßnahmenpaket zusammen.

Economic Analysis of Private Copy Remuneration (PCR), Requested by GESAC

Economic analysis of copyright legislation: be prepared to see more of it in the future.
The Econlaw Study focuses on the music sector.
"..(W)e find that the incentives put in place by the PCR system should translate into an increase in the stock of music titles of around 1.5 percent in a period of 25 years. This increase would in turn compensate for the short-term negative effects on the joint welfare of consumers and producers of CE products, increasing total welfare by around 2.8 percent in a period of 25 years, although three fourths of the positive effects would already be in place after a period of 5 years. Regardless of the particular assumptions, the base-line conclusion is that the dynamic mid- and long- term effects of the PCR system on content supply compensate for the negative short-term effects calculated in our static analysis. In sum, the economic impact of the PCR system is not negative and could increase total welfare", p. 11.
According to the Study, exemption …

Rechtsfragen bei E-Learning

Ein Praxis-Leitfaden von Rechtsanwalt Till Kreutzer im Auftrag des Multimedia-Kontors Hamburg. Ein Pod-Interview mit RA Kreutzer kann als Einführung gelten. Besonders lesenswert aus meiner Sicht ist die praxisnahe Besprechung der in Betracht kommenden Schrankenregelungen (§§ 51, 52a, 53) auch weil ich mich gerade mit diesem Thema beschäftige..

American Antitrust Institute: FTC to Block the Google/DoubleClick Merger

AAI White Paper, main points, in my view:
-Google and DoubleClick considered (at least, potential) horizontal competitors in two relevant markets: market for distributing online advertising space of third party (non-search) web sites and market for publisher ad serving tools
- therefore, "(I)f the evidence confirms that these markets are concentrated and that entry is otherwise difficult, as appears to be the case, then the merger presents a relatively straightforward case for challenge under the horizontal and non-horizontal merger guidelines"
- "The upshot of the merger may be higher costs for web publishers to sell their advertising space, which ultimately
may affect the diversity and richness of content available on the Internet and the vibrancy of the media".

Australian Competition Authority holding a different view, it seems

The Impact of Music Downloads and P2P File-Sharing on the

Economic study on the effects associated with the P2P file sharing (Department of Management Birkbeck, University of London).
Main findings, based on a survey of Canadian consumers' habits: P2P filesharing tends to increase rather than decrease music purchasing

Fair Use Principles for User Generated Video Content

Standards endorsed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other public interest groups such as the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School.
Some statements worth considering:
(1) "..where copyrighted materials are employed for purposes of comment, criticism, reporting, parody, satire, or scholarship, or as the raw material for other kinds of creative and transformative works, the resulting work will likely fall within the bounds of fair use"
(2) but fair use is not enough: independently thereof, uses that are "noncommercial, creative, and transformative in nature should not be pursued.
(3) automated content identification technologies (“filters”) to monitor their systems for potential copyright infringements should incorporate protections for fair use
(4) filtering technologies should establish three conditions before taking down or blocking content:
- the video track matches the video track of a copyrighted work submitted by a content owner;
- the au…

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission clears Google's acquisition of DoubleClick

From the press release:
"A key focus of the ACCC's investigation was whether the combination of Google's network of website publishers and DoubleClick's ad serving capabilities would enable the merged entity to increase the cost of ad serving to website publishers and advertisers. "In reaching its decision, the ACCC noted that Google and DoubleClick are not close competitors in the provision of ad serving. In addition, the ACCC also took into account the presence of other competitors in this market that would be likely to constrain the merged entity post-merger".ACCC not to intervene in Google's acquisition of DoubleClick

Competition Bureau Generic Drug Sector Study

Key findings, in my opinion:
- generic manufacturers compete by offering pharmacies rebates off invoice prices (to be considered, however, that two Canadian provinces prohibit rebates); rebates are substantial (on average 40 per cent of the price the pharmacy
is invoiced)
- but this competition is not reflected in prices paid for the purchase of generics
- as the Competition Bureau concludes: "A regulatory and market framework where incentives to supply drug plans more closely reflect the underlying market dynamics could provide significant benefits to drug plans, and in turn to insurers, employers and Canadians".

Competition Bureau Generic Drug Sector Study.pdf (Objet application/pdf)

The Librarians

On Australian ABC TV: can copyright issues be dramatized?

English Schools v. Microsoft licensing arrangements

From Becta: Becta, the government's education technology agency, has today made a complaint to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for alleged anti-competitive practices by Microsoft in the schools software marketplace and in relation to Microsoft's approach to document interoperability.

Gesang unter der Dusche erlaubt..

Amtsgericht Köln, Urteil vom 27. 09. 2007, Aktenzeichen 137 C 293/07. Nach Heise: "Denn zwar geschah das Singen "öffentlich" im Sinne von § 19 Abs. 2 UrhG. Weiterhin verlange die Vorschrift jedoch eine Darbietung, andernfalls wäre diese Bezeichnung im Gesetz überflüssig. "Nicht alles, was öffentlich geschieht, ist aber deswegen zwangsläufig eine Darbietung", befand im konkreten Fall das Gericht. Vielmehr handele es sich hier "um ein eigenes, dem Werkgenuss dienendes Singen und Musizieren, das urheberrechtsfrei ist". Die anwesenden Gäste wären nicht "dazu eingeladen, den Gesängen der Burschenschafter zu lauschen". Nach Deutung des Gerichts war es den Gästen "zumindest freigestellt, sogar mitzusingen". Daran ändere auch das Klavierspiel nichts, denn dieses sei als bloße Begleitung zu beurteilen, "die den Zweck gehabt haben mag, den Gesang zu stützen oder die Feierlichkeit des Geschehens zu unterstreichen."

On the (un)patentability of business methods

Interesting decision about the (un)patentability of business methods, also retracing the history of patent protection, and showing its (frequently overseen) limits and bounderies.
The Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit asserts that
"It is thus clear that the present statute does not allow patents to be issued on particular business systems—such as a particular type of arbitration—that depend entirely on the use of mental processes. In other words, the patent statute does not allow patents on particular systems that depend for their operation on human intelligence alone, a field of endeavor that both the framers and Congress intended to be beyond the reach of patentable subject matter. Thus, it is established that the application of human intelligence to the solution of practical problems is not in and of itself patentable". However "When an unpatentable mental process is combined with a machine, the combination may produce patentable subject matter, as the Supreme Co…

Class Action Complaint Against Apple concerning iPhone

Here the text of the complaint.The facts can be briefly reckoned as follows:- AT&T is the exclusive provider for iPhone cell phone service in the United States;- the duration of the exclusive agreement is to be five years;- Apple is to receive a portion of AT&T’s profit;- iPhone consumers are to be prohibited from using a cell phone carrier other than AT&T;- Apple is to be restrained for a period of time from developing a version of the iPhone for CDMA wireless networks.
As far as competition law is concerned, the facts invest the tying doctrine. In this case, the tying product is the iPhone, whereas the tied product is AT&T's cell phone service.One of the central questions would be: Has Apple sufficient economic power in the tying market to coerce the purchase of the tied product?