Carlo Piana on Competition, Interoperability and Free Software (Open Source)

Carlo Piana is legal counsel for the Free Software Foundation Europe. On June, 9 he will be in Trento, at the Economics Faculty, to talk about the aftermath of the Microsoft Court of First Instance's decision, and in particular about its relevance for the open source movement (Presentation, in Italian)

Trento Economics Festival 2008

The central topic will be "Market and Democracy". Among other speakers, Mario Monti and Oliver Hart. Streaming (web TV) here.

Lawrence Lessig's proposal on "orphan works"

Counter to a bill currently before the US Congress, foreseeing an excuse for copyright infringers from significant damages if they can prove that they made a "diligent effort" to find the copyright owner, Lawrence Lessig suggests in an article published in the New York Times that:
- the copyright owner, after a 14-year period, should be required to register a work with an approved, privately managed and competitive registry and pay $1
- this rule should not apply to foreign works, or to work created between 1978 and today
- photographs and other difficult-to-register works should be subject to this rule depending on the technology available, both to develop simple registration databases and to make research handy and reliable.

Conseil de la concurrence: exclusivité France Télécom-groupe France Télévisions pour la "télévision de rattrapage" licite

Au sujet des critères qui guident l’appréciation des effets des clauses d’exclusivité, le Conseil dans sa décision a considérés comme décisifs le "champ et de la durée de l’exclusivité ainsi que des justifications techniques ou des contreparties économiques de l’accord".
Même si l'exclusivité porte sur les programmes du type "premium", les opérateurs ADSL concurrents pourraient, selon le Conseil, "proposer à leurs clients d’autres services interactifs que ceux qui font l’objet du partenariat" ou "développer des partenariats avec les autres diffuseurs pour une diffusion en rattrapage de leurs programmes". Quant à la durée, de deux ans à compter du lancement du service, soit au plus tard à compter du 1er juillet 2008, elle n'est pas jugée "excessive".
En plus, le partenariat exclusif réponderait "à une logique économique pour toutes les parties concernées". Les produteurs seraient satisfaits parce que "France Télévisions est le premier opérateur qui les rémunère pour une diffusion en non linéaire". Les partenaires bénéficent "du financement des investissements représentés par l’acquisition des droits, des coûts techniques et des coûts de promotion"; grâce à l'exclusivité, ils sont aussi à mesure "de trouver des sources de financement nouvelles et de développer un service innovant" et de pallier l’incertitude sur la profitabilité des investissements. Pour les consommateurs aussi il y aurait des effets positifs, en particulier dans la mesure où l'exclusivité permet "dans un premier temps l’émergence d’un service innovant que les partenaires sont les premiers à proposer".

Appeal against Skype GPL Munich court decision withdrawn

A district court in Munich (Landgericht München I) ruled in July 2007 that Skype had violated the GNU General Public Licence 2.0 because it had sold a SMC Networks Linux-based VoIP telephone (WSKP100) without providing both the copy of the license and the source code of the software. In particular, together with the product, there was only a leaflet pointing to an URL where the text of the license and "information on obtaining access to the GPL Code" could have been obtained, whereas according to art. 1 GPL v. 2.0, the licensee is required to "give any other recipients of the Program a copy of this License along with the Program". Moreover, art.3, par.1 together with par.3, requires the licensee to accompany the program/product either with the "complete corresponding machine-readable source code" or to offer access to copy the source code from a designated place, provided in the latter case that distribution of executable or object code is made by offering access to copy from the same place. Therefore, only if the binary had been made available in Internet for download, which was not the case, the offer to download the source code would have been in compliance with the GPL terms.
One of the appeal judges is cited to have said, as reported by Harald Welte's blog "if a publisher wants to publish a book of an author that wants his book only to be published in a green envelope, then that might seem odd to you, but still you will have to do it as long as you want to publish the book and have no other agreement in place". Skype's legal counsel thought it wise to withdraw the appeal.
Comment on the district court decision: Jörg Wimmers and Detlef Klett, Computer und Recht 2008, p. 59.

Event Studies and Competition Policy

Are the results provided by stock market event studies potentially delivering useful evidence to competition authorities? Probably not, according to a Paper published on the UK Competition Commission website.